Headline: Biotech talks to resume on Jan 24

Wire Service: OTC (COMTEX Newswire)

Date: Wed, Jan 12, 2000

Nairobi (The Nation, January 13, 2000) - World governments are set to resume talks on an agreement to reduce potential risks of the movement of genetically-modified organisms. The four-day meeting, set for January 24, in Montreal, Canada, will focus on benefits and dangers posed by genetically-modified organisms. In a press statement, the United Nations Environmental Programme executive director Klaus Toepfer said the ability of biotechnology to contribute to human well-being in the 21st century will be boosted if the international community created credible and effective safeguards for the environment. "Reducing unnecessary and potentially catastrophic risks is in the best interest of everyone developed and developing countries, consumers and industry and all those who care deeply about our natural environment," said Dr Toepfer.

The resumed talks follow a suspension of the First Session of the Extraordinary Conference of the Parties of the Convention in February, 1999, in Cartagena, Colombia. Participants of the first meeting were unable to finalise the text of a biosafety protocol due to a number of outstanding differences, one of which was the scope of the treaty's regulatory powers. Some governments wanted a restricted scope, while others wanted a broader one. to restrict the scope of the Protocol to LMOs intended for introduction into the environment, such as seeds. Others, however, called for a broader scope that would include LMOs that are agricultural commodities or that are used for food, feed or processing.

The forthcoming meeting will also discuss the contentious issue of liability - who pays if LMOs enter the environment and cause damage.

By Nation Reporter
Copyright 2000 The Nation. Distributed via Africa News Online.

Copyright 2000

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