US Strong Arm Tactics in
Johannesburg Fail

Plans to promote Genetically Modified crops defeated
By Geoffrey Lean in Johannesburg
The Independent (London),02 September 2002

American plans to force genetically modified (GM) crops and food on to
Third World countries were unexpectedly frustrated at the Earth Summit last

After an impassioned plea from Ethiopia, ministers rejected clauses in
the summit's plan of action which would have given the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) powers over international treaties on the

One effect of this would have been to give the WTO the power to override
the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, giving developing countries the
right to refuse to take GM imports. The WTO regards free trade as its
top priority.

The breakthrough - which rocked the American delegation, which has been
blocking progress on most issues at the summit - took place as
negotiators worked through the night to resolve the outstanding
disagreements on the plan.

For most of the day the proposal had seemed fated to go through. Beside
opening the door to GM, it would have placed at risk international
treaties controlling the trade in toxic waste, chemicals that destroy
the ozone layer, and the pollution that causes global warming.

Originally, the only resistance to the proposals came from Norway and
Switzerland but after the Ethiopian delegation made its intervention the
rest of the Third World swung against it, followed by the European Union
which had originally been pushed into adopting it by EC officials. The
US was left isolated.

"I have never seen so many environmental ministers hugging each other as
when the proposal went down,'' said one British negotiator early this

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