NGOs press EU on biosafety protocol talks

Letter-writing campaign launched to call for strict international controls on use of GMOs

A European environmental group has launched a letter-writing campaign to press the EU to call for strong international controls on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in forthcoming negotiations. According to the European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering (Genet), the EU's stance on the UN biosafety protocol will be "critical". It is calling on individuals around Europe to lobby EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard on the issue before countries meet next month in Colombia to finalise the text of the instrument, which is being introduced under the 1992 UN convention on biological diversity. European environmental groups want to see strong liability and compensation mechanisms included, as well as strict requirements for segregation and labelling of GMO products. NGOs are also promoting a clause that would allow countries to "take full account" of socio-economic benefits when making decisions concerning GMOs. It is "important to realise," Genet says "that there is a big gap between what European governments are doing at home...and what is happening in the negotiations".

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