NGOs URGE NEGOTIATORS TO SPARE BIOTECHNOLOGY
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.