National Post (formerly The Financial Post)

January 18, 2000 Tuesday


Genetic food talks set for Montreal this week

OTTAWA - Environmental trade negotiators from more than 120 countries will gather in Montreal this week in what is likely to resemble a smaller -- and, participants hope, quieter -- version of the Seattle talks that fell apart so spectacularly in December. The bureaucrats and interest groups will begin arriving Thursday for talks to reach a

worldwide protocol on how countries evaluate and identify the genetically modified organisms they export. The topic sounds dry, but so did Seattle, until thousands of protesters showed up and marched loudly through the streets. 'There's some concern about whether there will be a Seattle- type situation,' acknowledged a senior Canadian official.

An umbrella organization of consumer groups is organizing a rally for this Saturday, and expects the turnout to be in the hundreds. But it's doubtful emotions will boil over as they did in Seattle, said Michelle Swenarchuk of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. 'This is Canada, and it's probably going to be minus-20,' she said

yesterday. There's another key difference: the non- governmental organizations are in favour of the protocol, unlike Seattle, where many wanted to kill the World Trade Organization talks to liberalize trade.

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