From: "James Williams" <
Subject: WTO "WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN" -Greenpeace final comment
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 9:17 PM

WTO "WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN" -Greenpeace final comment

Seattle-03 December 1999-Regardless of the detailed outcome of the
talks in Seattle this week, including the possible creation of a WTO
Working Group on Biotechnology, the World Trade Organisation will
never be the same again, Greenpeace International said today.

"Peaceful protestors in Seattle and voices from around the world have
called for the WTO to include environmental protection, transparency,
democracy and participation.  From here on it will be simply impossible
for the WTO to ignore their concerns," said Remi Parmentier of Greenpeace

Greenpeace said there was particular significance in the controversy
that took place between the US and Canada on the one hand and the vast
majority of the member states on the other, over the need to prevent the
proliferation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and

"In less than a week, the discussion here on GMOs has brought an
international focus on a critical environmental agreement:  the
Biosafety Protocol," said Parmentier. "Last week, when you mentioned
the word 'biosafety' to anyone, the first reaction you would get was
'biowhat?'.  But an outcome from this week is that this word is now on
everybody's lips and there is little doubt that biosafety is urgently

He was referring to the on-going negotiations,  within the framework
of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),  to adopt a
Protocol on Biosafety.  Throughout 1999 the US and Canada, both large
exporters of GM crops, have attempted to use the WTO to undermine the
efforts of UNEP to conclude the Protocol.

"The WTO's lack of understanding of environmental issues have had a
boomerang effect on the US and Canada this week," said Parmentier. "It was
to be expected:  their lack of understanding of current environmental and
social realities was at the root of the Seattle debacle."

Greenpeace said the next stop after Seattle would be Montreal where
the Biosafety Protocol must be concluded at a ministerial  meeting in

"We invite the WTO to cooperate in this process rather than obstruct. The
lack of international rules on biosafety is bad for trade and is an
irreversible obstacle to sustainable agriculture and food safety," said
Greenpeace's International Biosafety spokesperson, Marijane Lisboa from

In Greenpeace's view, the Biosafety Protocol must contain the
following key clauses:

1. The precautionary principle must be the overriding basis for all
decisions adopted within its framework, because damage must be
anticipated and prevented before it is allowed to start taking place;

2. The right of any country to say "NO!" to GMOs in food and
agriculture must be recognised and re-affirmed by the Protocol

3. The Biosafety Protocol must establish an international regime of
unlimited liaibility covering all damages that may arise from  GMOs,
including environmental damage;

4. The right for any country to establish labelling schemes and crop
segregation with a view to guaranteeing product traceability must be
clearly recognised and

5. Of course,  the Biosafety Protocol cannot be subordinate to the

Kind regards,

For information please contact:
Greenpeace International Press Office
T: ++ 31 20 5249515
F: ++ 31 20 5236212

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