Failed global GM talks worry seed firms

26 February 1999

Failed global GM talks worry seed firms

SOME of the worlds largest seed companies have expressed concern over the breakdown of treaty talks on genetically modified (GM) crops, reports the Financial Times.

The talks, between representatives from 170 countries meeting in Colombia, aimed to establish a protocol governing the transport and global trade of GM organisms.

But negotiations broke down over US insistence on the preservation of free trade over the environmental concerns of many European countries.

One of the main stumbling blocks to a treaty being ratified at the meeting was US demands that World Trade Organisation rules must take precedence over any biosafety agreement.

Seed companies also expressed similar concerns, among them Pulsar International, a Mexico-based seed company which produces approximately 25% of the worlds fruit and vegetable seeds.

Novartis Seeds, one of the largest seed companies in the world which is developing GM varieties, also voiced worries that the treaty plans had collapsed.

A further cause for concern that emerged from the conference was the threat of heightened trade tension between the European Union and the US.

European Commission officials are fearful that the failure to agree a treaty will spark more unilateral bans by European states on GM products.

This, in turn, will put further pressure on its strained relationship on trade with the US.

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