Annan urges accord on rules for modified organisms
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 29 (Reuters) - U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Wednesday for agreement at talks in Montreal next month to send the world a strong message on biosafety and regulating the movement of living modified organisms. "Success in these
negotiations would send a strong and timely signal to the international community that environmental concerns can be satisfied without creating new obstacles to free trade," he said, alluding to widespread controversy over exports of genetically modified crops. In a message marking the
International Day for Biological Diversity and the sixth anniversary of the entry into force of a convention on that subject, he said negotiations on a protocol on biosafety and the transboundary movement of living modified organisms had reached a critical stage. A meeting of the 176 parties
to the Convention on Biological Diversity would resume in Montreal next month with a view to finalising a protocol, he said. "I urge all concerned to work constructively to ensure the successful outcome of these negotiations," Annan
added. He said the three main objectives of the convention were the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and
equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. "These three areas are interdependent; if the convention is to be successful, progress in each is essential," he said. Annan said many
nations were making commendable efforts to adhere to the convention. "Still, the threaats to species and ecosystemsvremain ominous; species extinctions caused by human activities continue at an alarming rate," he said. "On this last Biodiversity Day of the 20th century, let us resolve to make the next century a harmonious one: between economy and environment, between consumption and conservation, between present needs and those of the future."
Annan said. "And let us keep constantly in mind that preservation of the planet's biological diversity is a common concern of all humankind and an essential feature of the transition to sustainable development."