25 January 2000
Meacher to fight ‘bizarre’ US policy on GMs
By FWi staff
ENVIRONMENT minister Michael Meacher has pledged that the USA will not be allowed to dominate negotiations to agree a protocol regulating international trade in genetically modified (GM) organisms.
The minister said it was “bizarre” that the USA – which has not signed a previous treaty on bio-diversity, and does not have a place at the table – should play such a major role in discussions.
It is thought Canada may put forward the USA case at the Montreal talks which bring together delegates from more than 130 countries.
Mr Meacher told BBC radio: “It is important to be absolutely clear about agenda, stick to it and not allow the Americans to dominate.
“We should decide on basis of what is right.”
The EU and the USA are sharply divided over the need for regulation of GM trade.
The EU and a group of developing countries want a procedure that will require exporters of bio-engineered crops to seek advanced approval from importing countries.
The USA heads opponents, who say it is impossible to segregate GMs in bulk exports of crops such as corn and soyabeans.
Mr Meacher said there had to be consensus and the Americans could not go on endlessly, “like the tail wagging dog”.
He pledged that GMs would not be accepted in the EU if there is evidence that they could cause risk to human health or damage to the environment.
“Those are the rules. We will continue to exercise those rights.”
EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy has been accused of trying to do deal with the USA behind the scenes.
This would reportedly allow US GM products into Europe in exchange for allowing the EU to keep higher subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy.
As talks got underway a call for compromise was heard from Juan Mayr Maldonado, Columbias environment minister and chairman of the conference.
He warned that failure to reach a deal this week on the protocol “could seriously undermine” the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.