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Switzerland welcomes biosafety protocol

Switzerland has welcomed the adoption of a new treaty regulating exports of genetically-modified organisms, after five years of negotiations. Anti-GM protesters kept the pressure up during the week-long talks in Montreal.

This content was published on January 29, 2000 - 15:34

Switzerland has welcomed the adoption of a new treaty regulating exports of genetically-modified organisms, after five years of negotiations. The deal was reached after week-long talks between 133 countries in Montreal.

The head of the Swiss delegation, Beat Nobs, said it was a good compromise.

"After lengthy negotiations, a compromise has been found between the demands of environmental protection and the interests of world trade," said Nobs.

The protocol allows countries to restrict imports of genetically-modified products if they feel there is not enough evidence showing the product is safe.

It also ensures importing countries are given access to the information necessary to evaluate the risk, a principle which is particularly important for developing countries.

The aim of the accord is to protect the environment from damage by genetically-modified plants, animals and bacteria. It is an extension to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity.

Nobs said Switzerland had distinguished itself at the conference by acting as the spokesman for a group of countries pressing for a compromise, to avoid a repeat of the failure at last year's conference in Colombia.

He added that the protocol would not lead to any further obligations for Switzerland, as it has applied the measures it contains on a voluntary basis since 1995.

From staff and wire reports

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