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Exporters' demands stall Biosafety Protocol

Despite their best efforts, the European Union and the developing countries last week failed to reach a final agreement on a Biosafety Protocol with the main countries that produce agricultural commodities developed with techniques from biotechnology.

Despite support from the...
Despite their best efforts, the European Union and the developing countries last week failed to reach a final agreement on a Biosafety Protocol with the main countries that produce agricultural commodities developed with techniques from biotechnology.

Despite support from the majority of attendees at the conference, held in Cartagena, Colombia, on 23 February 1999, the main producer countries could not support the consensus on a compromise proposal for a workable protocol for biosafety elaborated by the European Union. The producer countries are concerned about the impact of the Protocol on exports of agricultural commodities containing living modified organisms and the relationship of the Biosafety Protocol with the World Trade Organisation.

The developing countries demonstrated flexibility in their demands at the meeting, in order to encourage a positive outcome. They also underlined the importance of such a protocol for the protection of regional biodiversity. However, they opted finally to continue the discussions, rather than agree to a weakened Protocol.

To allow for further consultation to resolve the outstanding issues, the conference of the parties decided to suspend its meeting for a period of no more than 18 months.

The European Commission has stated that it remains committed to the need for a Biosafety Protocol on the transboundary movement of living modified organisms under the Biodiversity Convention.

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