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A restrictive Biosafety protocol Could Hurt the Poor and the Environment

Contact in Montreal Gregory Conko, 301-775-1084
Contact in U.S.A: C.S. Prakash, 334-727-8023

MONTREAL, QUEBEC January 24, 2000 - A group of Non-Governmental organizations sent an open letter today to Biosafety Protocol negotiators in Montreal, urging them to base international regulation of genetically-engineered foods on sound scientific principles. To buttress this request, the NGOs included in their letter a "Declaration of Scientist in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology," which has been signed by more than 600 scientists from around the world.

"Genetic engineering and related biotechnologies offer one of the best hopes for increasing the productivity and affordability of crop plants and for making medicines more affordable and easier to distribute," said Professor C.S. Prakash, Director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University and co-signer of the letter. "But a Biosafety Protocol that is not based on sound science could pose a real threat to human populations around the world and to the environment."

Professor Prakash, who also drafted the Declaration of Scientists in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology, added that "There is no scientific reason to believe that genetically-engineered foods are any more dangerous than the foods we've been eating for centuries. But the draft of the Biosafety Protocol would hold these new foods to such a high standard that even many conventional foods couldn't pass."

Joining Professor Prakash in signing the letter were Frances B. Smith, Founder and Director of International Consumers for Civil Society; Gregory Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy at the competitive Enterprise Institute; and Barbara Rippel, Senior Policy Analyst for Trade and the Environment at Consumer Alert. The NGO letter asked delegates to the Biosafety Protocol negotiations to "Balance the risk of introducing new biotechnologies against the much more pressing risks of hunger and poverty."

A copy of the Declaration of Scientists in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology can be viewed at the AgBioWorld web site. Professor Prakash developed the web site to support the Declaration and to share information with policymakers, reporters, and members of the public.


AgBioWorld (www.AgBioWorld.org) is sponsored and maintained by Professor C.S. Prakash, Director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University. Information requests can be sent to Professor Prakash at prakash@tuskegee.edu.