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Biotech Foods: David Versus Goliath

MARCH 10, 2006

CONTACT: Friends of the Earth International
In Curitiba, Brazil

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International / Friends of the Earth
Tel: +234 8037274395 (Nigerian mobile) or email
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel +49 1609 490 1163 (German mobile) or email
In Europe
Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International
Tel +34 6259 805 820 (Spanish mobile)

Biotech Foods: David Versus Goliath
Developing countries fight with big business over safety laws

CURITIBA, Brazil - March 10 - The battle between the majority of developing
countries and some of the world's biggest corporations will peak on March
13-17, 2006 in Brazil.

United Nations talks on the global trade in genetically modified (GM), or
biotech foods and crops will highlight the gap between countries demanding
the right to regulate imports of GM products and the huge business interests
that seek to benefit from weak rules.

The identification and labeling of imports of GM products will be the key
debate in Curitiba. (1) The biotech industries consistently opposed clear
identification and labelling requirements for any of the GM crops on the
market today. Without clear labelling many countries, especially developing
countries with their limited resources, are unable to protect their food
supply and environment from GM contamination.(2)

Nnimmo Bassey, International Coordinator of the Friends of the Earth GM
Campaign said: " These talks are key to protecting the environment and the
world's food supply from contamination from the biotech industry. Every
country should have the right to know what is being imported and to decide
if they want to eat genetically modified foods or not. African countries and
other developing countries will not be the dumping ground for genetically
modified crops that no one else wants."

The UN Biosafety Protocol, which was originally agreed in January 2000,
provides basic international rules that allow mainly developing countries to
regulate the safety of GM foods, crops and seeds. It has been ratified by
132 countries but the three main countries that grow GM crops - the United
States, Argentina and Canada - have refused to support it. Talks broke down
in Montreal in June 2005 after Brazil and New Zealand blocked proposals that
would have allowed the majority of developing countries to know if GM grains
were being imported.

Ten years after the first significant planting of GM crops, no plants with
benefits to consumers or the environment have materialized and GM crops have
failed to deliver the promises of the biotech industry. More than 80% of the
area cultivated with biotech crops is still concentrated in only three
countries: the US, Argentina and Canada. Friends of the Earth International
recently published a report (3) that concluded:

* GM crops are not 'green'. Monsanto's GM soybeans, the most
extensively grown GM crop today, has led to an increase in herbicide use.
The intensive cultivation of soybeans in South America is fostering
deforestation, and has been associated with a decline in soil fertility and
soil erosion.

* GM crops do not tackle hunger or poverty. Most GM crops
commercialized so far are destined for animal feed, not for food, and none
have been introduced to address hunger and poverty issues. In Argentina, the
second biggest producer of GM crops in the world, only 2% of the soya stays
in the country. Other developing countries, such as Indonesia and India,
have experienced substantial problems with Monsanto's GM crops, often
leaving farmers heavily indebted.

* The biotech industry has failed to introduce the promised 'new
generation' of GM crops with consumer benefits. After 30 years of research,
only two modifications have made it to the marketplace on any scale: insect
resistance and herbicide tolerance.