Biotech firms welcome GMO talks breakdown

European industry prefers no treaty on GMOs to one embracing agricultural commodities

European and international biotechnology industry groups have welcomed the breakdown on Wednesday of talks on an international protocol on trade and use of live genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According to the European biotechnology industry association EuropaBio, the biosafety protocol was so deeply flawed that "it's better to have no protocol". Paul Muys of the association said that the biotechnology industry would welcome "a protocol that proved we are serious about maintaining biodiversity," but that the current proposal would in fact mean "more red tape and bureaucracy". EuropaBio and other industry groups particularly object to the demands of some countries that the biosafety protocol should be given a scope wide enough to cover agricultural commodities, such as soya and oilseed rape. For several of these genetically modified varieties are beginning to appear on the market. The international Grain and Feed Trade Association (Gafta) backed EuropaBio's position on this today, saying that it did not want a protocol that "gives unnecessary disruption to trade". EuropaBio also attacked a proposal for the biosafety protocol to include a requirement for importing countries to be informed by exporters before any individual shipment of GMOs covered by the instrument. This would be "madness," said Mr Muys. EuropaBio and its sister organisation in the USA are also unhappy with a proposed framework of legal liability under discussion.

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