FOCUS-Countries reach landmark GMO food agreementgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
FOCUS-Countries reach landmark GMO food agreement--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MONTREAL, Jan 29 (Reuters) - More than 130 countries reached a landmark agreement early on Saturday to regulate trade in genetically modified organisms, a major part of the world's food supply that has raised environmental and health concerns and strained international trade relations.
The U.N.-sponsored agreement strikes a delicate balance between the interests of major exporters of genetically modified crops, such as the United States and Canada, and importers in the European Union and developing countries, which have expressed concerns about the health and environmental impact of the new food varieties.
The agreement, which still must be ratified by 50 countries before it goes into effect, establishes an international framework for countries to use when making decisions about genetically modified crops.
It also requires, for the first time under an international agreement, labeling of commodity shipments that "may contain" genetically modified foods. But there is no specific requirement that farmers or the grain industry segregate conventional and modified crops, which the U.S. government said could cost billions of dollars.
"On balance, we think this is an agreement that protects the environment without disrupting world food trade," David Sandalow, assistant U.S. secretary of state for oceans, environment and science, told reporters.
European Commission Environmental Minister Margot Wallstrom said the protocol, signed by more than 130 countries, was a victory for consumers and importers and an agreement of which all countries could be proud.
The pact also won praise from both industry groups and environmentalists, who each feared the other would have more influence over the final outcome of a pact on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
GMOs SPARK CONCERN
The term "genetically modified organisms" refers to plants and animals containing genes transferred from other species to produce certain characteristics, such as resistance to certain pests and herbicides.
Although any genetically modified organism planted in the United States is subjected to U.S. government testing and approval, some groups feared the new varieties could have adverse environmental and health effects. Many EU consumers, suspicious of genetically engineered crops, favored blocking their importation.
To reach an agreement, the United States and Canada had to accept stronger language than they wanted recognizing the right of countries to use precautions in making import decisions.
With its language on the "precautionary principle," the proposed Biosafety Protocol agreement could set the stage for countries to close their markets to genetically modified crops without conclusive scientific evidence of harm.
At the same time, the agreement also contains a "savings clause," which emphasizes the new pact does not override rights and obligations under other international agreements, including the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The United States, which negotiated along with Canada as part of the Miami Group bloc and therefore does not need congressional approval of the pact, insisted on that language to ensure science-based WTO rules would still apply to import decisions.
If a dispute arises over a country's decision to close its market to a food product, the WTO will review the protocol before making a ruling, Wallstrom said.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Frank Loy acknowledged the pact had some shortcomings from the U.S. point of view. "Make no mistake. The agreement is not perfect," Loy said.
LABELING WOULD BE NEGOTIATED
Once the protocol goes into effect, which could take two or three years, commodity shipments that may contain GMOs will have to be labeled "may contain" genetically modified organisms.
At that point, a new round of negotiations on more specific labeling requirements will also have to begin, with the requirement of finishing in two years.
Willy De Greef, director of regulatory and government affairs for Novartis , a Swiss-based company that produces genetically modified corn varieties, said the grain industry is already moving toward segregation.
"What we needed was a framework" and the protocol provides that, De Greef said.
Steven Daugherty, director of government and industry relations for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. , a U.S. producer of genetically modified seed, also said the protocol's commodity provisions appeared to be workable.
Greenpeace, which had staged protests against genetically modified crops throughout the week of negotiations, also gave its blessings to the pact. "This is a historic step toward protecting the environment and consumers from the dangers of genetic engineering," the group said.
A previous attempt to craft the Biosafety Protocol failed last year in Cartagena, Colombia, mainly because the Miami Group feared it would block trade.
In contrast to the bitterness that pervaded that effort, participants praised the positive atmosphere of this week's negotiations in Montreal.
They also credited Colombian Environmental Minister Juan Myar, who chaired the talks, for forcing negotiators to resolve their many issues to reach an agreement.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
"On balance, we think this is an agreement that protects the environment without disrupting world food trade"
Yeah right, putting a label on a package that "may" contain GMO products will "protect the environment"
"Miami Group bloc", How many ways can they circumvent the law to pass regulations without congress being involved?
1) Executive Order
2) Presidential Directive
3) Sign a treaty and then implement without congressional approval.
4) Join a Bloc
5) ??? (any additions...)
-- Possible Impact (email@example.com), January 31, 2000
GMO technology, if not environmentally dangerous, is socio-economically dangerous, as it's just another way to enrich the huge corporate predators known as "agribiz", and another way to push smaller, more "inefficient" family farmers off of their land by increasing costs to meet their bogus market "demand" which the AGBIZ establishment created in the first place. (Includes R&D labs and land-grant universities as part of the Establishment, as they are no longer there to serve what little rural population remains, but moneyed interests alone.) Like GPS "precision farming", where's the return for the producer? Yet who pays the costs of implementation? We, the producers and consumers, pay the costs, the parasitic manipulators reap the profits. And more families leave the land. And more of the propertied middle class is forced into the urban wage-earner pool, which increasingly works for declining wages in real terms and goes deeper into debt. And the rich get richer, as the theft of land, labor and resources continues at an ever-higher tempo. The gap between the two remaining classes widens more, and the Republic is diminished more each time hardworking, independent smallholders are forced off by the institutionalized bastards that set the ever-decreasing "profit" margins that producers have to try to live with. Greed knows no bounds, even to the point of killing their own Golden Goose. And the GMO issue is just another example of the same ongoing tragedy. New technology never benefits farmers financially, yet it should. Else what's the selling point?
-- Ben Corson (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2000.
I know whereof you speak.(grin)
I have a 550 acre family farm in central Texas. Getting out of the "Big ag" rat race by converting crop lands back to Organic methods as they come off lease from a neighbor who has been farming cotton and corn since before I bought the land.
-- Possible Impact (email@example.com), January 31, 2000.
So tell me whats' happening! Thirty years ago we could not feed the worlds population, so we were told (wheat prices went through the roof, farmers bought it and borrowed just to go broke). Today we are feeding 30% more people, (so we are told). Farmers are going out of business, the weather is not cooporating and yet we seem to have found more food. The genitics people are really doing a number on us. I wonder how many of them eat their own GMF foods. I have 1/2 acre of land and use to grow some of my own food, but because of the clorine in the water I can't get much out of the garden (so I gave up). And yet these people tells all is fine. Hmmmmmmmmmm..........
-- justthinkin com (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2000.
Just a quick note, if you run city water into open containers(tubs, barrels, etc...) and let it sit for a few days the chlorine will "outgas" and/or react with stuff in the water and settle out.
Greater % chance is soil balance problems.(PH, plant matter, trace mineral, etc...) Try to "read your weeds", the type and performance will tell you what the soil is "doing".
Compost, green sand, corn meal, and other organic soil amendments can revive a plot of land and make it flourish.
Hope this helps.
-- Possible Impact (email@example.com), January 31, 2000.
Thanks Possible IMP Justthinkin
-- justthinkin.com (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2000.
Thanks for this post, Possible Impact and contributing posters.
Here in Australia the socio-economic shift is now triggering political manoeuvres. Mono-agriculture isn't what it is cracked up to be, causing unexpected community dislocation and unfortunate side effects also. (eg Spraying of the huge cotton fields have caused fish kills as reported in the National press last week)
In my regional area a negative population growth is for real. When it was pointed out that it will drastically change the electoral boundaries of rural electorates an attitude change happened. Politicians are passionate about their own survival. You got to love 'em.....hehe.
-- Pieter (email@example.com), January 31, 2000.
Hey Possible-- I tried to e-mail you but your adress as shown here doesn't work. If you want to do some (OT) visiting about the crisis in the land and creative, positive solutions, e-mail me. My adress as shown here is real.
-- Ben Corson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 01, 2000.
Any organism that is not a clone of its ancestors has been genetically modified in one way or another. The farcical fracas about gm foods is reminiscent of Thomas Edison's scare campaign against Tesla's alternating current. History does repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
-- Jerry B (email@example.com), February 01, 2000.