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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
The Coalition welcomes the decision of negotiating parties to continue the
Biosafety Protocol process at a meeting to be held in Montreal in January
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.