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<div> <P> Vienna, Austria - The Global Industry Coalition (GIC) reaffirms its support for the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity and of the Biosafety Protocol - to ensure an adequate level of protection for biological diversity in connection with the international movement of genetically improved products. </P> <P> Though informal consultations for a Biosafety Protocol closed in Vienna with unresolved issues, the Coalition was encouraged by a heightened level of openness and a greater commitment to obtaining a successful Protocol. We appreciated the opportunity to participate in this process and to contribute towards the objective of a workable Protocol. </P> <P> As the process moves forward, the Coalition will continue to convey economic and other practical realities to ensure that such a Protocol can be implemented by all nations. The Coalition is committed to working constructively with all parties to find solutions to outstanding issues. Coalition members recognise the need to balance the protection of biological diversity with maintenance of an efficient and economical trade in food and other important products of biotechnology. </P> <P> Biotechnology is an important tool for the global economy. It offers solutions to problems such as disease, food security, and environmental degradation. This technology also provides benefits for all countries through job creation, economic growth, sustainable agriculture, and international competitiveness. </P> <P> In these consultations, issues surrounding the treatment of commodities containing LMOs have been dominant. The difficulties of these discussions highlight the extreme complexity of linking trade in commodities to protection of biodiversity. </P> <P> Commodities are produced in high volumes and shipped in efficient, bulk delivery systems that are economical for consumers around the world. Specialty markets are available and being developed for certain products, but may entail higher costs. Certain proposals presented in Vienna did not take this distinction fully into account. </P> <P> Commodities that are routinely shipped in international trade for direct consumption or processing into food or feed are not intended for release into the environment and pose no threat to biological diversity. Certain proposals under discussion in Vienna, with respect to LMO commodities, would challenge economic realities and consumer interests, but would not contribute to the goals of the Convention, including protection of biodiversity. </P> <P> Recognising the lack of consensus on this issue within the Biosafety Protocol process, the Coalition worked diligently here in Vienna, with representatives of all negotiating groups, to convey practical perspectives on global trade in commodities. New global biosafety rules that are restrictive or unclear could fail to produce benefits to biodiversity, while producing severe impacts on global trade in food and other essential products. Trade must remain oriented towards the efficient and cost-effective delivery of food to consumers. </P> <P> The Coalition supports the establishment of a harmonised regulatory system to protect biological diversity. This must be both workable and consistent with other international obligations. We endorse notification and information sharing concerning LMO approvals through a Biosafety Clearing House. This would provide importers with relevant information about LMOs that may be included in commodities shipments. In addition, capacity-building for risk assessment and other elements of regulation must be emphasised, and industry will continue to play an important role in this area. </P> <P> The Coalition welcomes the decision of negotiating parties to continue the Biosafety Protocol process at a meeting to be held in Montreal in January 2000. </P> <P> The Coalition represents over 2,200 firms in 130 countries worldwide. Its membership includes companies from a variety of industry sectors including plant and animal agriculture, food production, human and animal health care, and the environment. </div>

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