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MEDIA REPORTS

BIODIVERSITY AND WILDLIFE

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2003

 

Biodiversity and Wildlife Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2003

 

UK’S DFID ANNOUNCES NEW COMMITMENT TO AGRICULTURE
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) will commit an additional £30 million over the next three years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR works to achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through scientific research. DFID is also committing £5 million over the next three years to the new African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), which delivers affordable technology to African farmers.

 

Links to further information

CGIAR news release, 17 December 2003

http://www.cgiar.org/publications/news_dfid_funding_2003.html

 

FAO WARNS OF SHRINKING AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY AND OVERFISHING
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is warning that agricultural biodiversity, considered crucial to the survival of humanity, is in great danger. At the 32nd session of its governing conference, the agency stressed that only 150 species, out of the estimated 7,000 to 8,000 that have been used in 10,000 years of agriculture, are cultivated today. A side event was organized to draw attention to the importance of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is expected to enter into force in early 2004.

 

Links to further information

UN Press Release, 3 December 2003
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=9051&Cr=biodiversity&Cr1

32nd Session of FAO Governing Conference

http://www.fao.org/unfao/bodies/conf/c2003/c2003-e.htm

 

NOVEMBER 2003

 

TRADE REGULATIONS ON MAHOGANY ENTER INTO FORCE

Trade controls for big-leaf mahogany, one of the world’s most valuable forest products, entered into force on 15 November 2003. The trade controls were adopted by the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has 164 Member States to date. Under the new regulations, exported mahogany requires a CITES export permit confirming that the timber was obtained legally and that it does not jeopardize the survival of the species.

 

Links to further information

CITES Press Release, 11 November 2003

http://www.cites.org/eng/news/press_release.shtml

 

TREATY ON GIANT BIRDS AND FISHING PRACTICES TO ENTER INTO FORCE
The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) is to become law following South Africa’s ratification, which gave the agreement the five ratifications required for entry into force. Albatrosses and petrels are considered endangered and among the most threatened group of birds in the world. In addition to being exposed to various risks from marine pollution and having their food source overfished, these giant birds are often ensnared in longline fishing. The ACAP will enter into force on 1 February 2004 and is seen by many environmentalists as the last chance to save the giant birds. It is a legally binding agreement requiring Parties to take measures to mitigate the effect of unsustainable fishing practices on the conservation status of the birds. Attention is being paid to the effects of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and longline fishing practices. Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Ecuador have also ratified the Agreement.

 

Links to further information

ACAP’s media release, 7 November 2003

http://www.wcmc.org.uk/cms/nwPR2003/nw071103_acap_5th_party.htm
 

LINK BETWEEN CORRUPTION AND POOR CONSERVATION

According to research undertaken by the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK, countries with high levels of corruption tend to have poor environmental conservation records. The report “Governance and the Loss of Biodiversity” compares country scores scores from the “corruption perception index” published by Transparency International with the rate of change in forest cover and, for African countries, in their elephant and rhino populations. South Africa and Botswana are examples of countries with relatively little corruption and healthier wildlife populations, with Sudan and Ethiopia are found at the other end of the spectrum. The link also has implications for the trade in animal products such as ivory and rhino horn. It further forecasts the current decline in Asian elephants based on the corruption scores of the relevant Asian countries.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire release, 7 November 2003

http://www.nature.com/nsu/031103/031103-12.html

Kent University Press Release, 6 November 2003

www.kent.ac.uk/news/news.php?id=dice.txt

Corruption is undermining conservation, Nature, 6 November 2003,
http://www.nature.com/nsu/031103/031103-12.html

 

OCTOBER 2003

 

NEW REPORTS ON GM CONTAMINATION

The UK government has recently published the results of the farm-scale evaluations of three herbicide-tolerant GM crops – maize, beet and spring oilseed rape. The trials, which were carried out over a three-year period to test the impact on farmland wildlife of the herbicide use associated with these crops, show that conventional varieties of these crops are contaminated with GM traits at a much faster rate than previously expected.

 

Regarding wildlife, it shows that in GM beet fields there were 60% fewer weed seed, less butterflies and fewer birds, while in GM oilseed rape fields there were 80% fewer weed seeds and less butterflies. GM maize was the exception, since it drew more bees, butterflies and weed seeds than the conventional crop. The report concludes that cultivating such GM crops could lead to a decline in bird population. The results will be passed to the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, the Government’s statutory advisory body, which will advise the government on implications for any release of GM crops. Margaret Beckett, the UK Environment Minister, said that the results will be considered as part of the comprehensive risk assessment undertaken for each GM crop.

 

Another report was recently published in Mexico, sponsored by a group of Mexican farmers and indigenous communities. Testing 2000 maize plants from 33 communities in nine Mexican states as positively contaminated with DNA from GM maize, the report indicated that Mexico’s traditional maize crops are far more contaminated with DNA from GM varieties that previously thought.

 

Links to further information

DEFRA Press Release, 16 October 2003

http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2003/fseresults.htm

Royal Society Press Release, 16 October 2003, and full texts of the evaluations

http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/homepage_homelink1.shtml

ETC Group Press Release, 9 October 2003, and Mexican maize report

http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=410

 

RATIFICATIONS RAMPING UP FOR TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES, ENTRY INTO FORCE EXPECTED IN 2004
The ratification process for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is proceeding speedily, with 32 States having ratified as of 13 October. Adopted on 3 November 2001, the treaty is slated enter into force 90 days following ratification by 40 States. National procedures necessary for ratification are also progressing rapidly in several countries. It is expected that 40 States will have ratified the treaty by the end of 2003, and that it will enter into force in the first half of 2004.

Links to further information

ITPGR ratification website

http://www.fao.org/Legal/TREATIES/033s-e.htm

 

CHEVRONTEXACO TO BE TRIED IN ECUADOR FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGES

On 21 October, following a decade of court battles in the US over jurisdiction, 30,000 residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon will bring their case against ChevronTexaco before the local court of Lago Agrio in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Ecuadorians claim that the company’s oil operations in the region from 1971 to 1991 dumped billions of gallons of toxic materials into pits and rivers, which resulted in environmental damages, damaged crops, dead animals and increased cancer rates, and are demanding that the company pay for a clean-up, estimated to cost $1bn. ChevronTexaco alleges that all operating decisions were taken by a consortium with the state oil company, and that a clean-up project of $40m was put in place after they had left the country. This “landmark environmental and human rights trial,” as described by Amazon Watch, marks the first time a US multinational corporation is being tried in a foreign court for environmental damages.

 

Links to further information

BBC News, 8 May 2003

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3009201.stm

Amazon Watch, 2 October 2003

http://www.amazonwatch.org/newsroom/view_news.php?id=722

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

http://www.business-humanrights.org/Categories/Lawlawsuits/Lawsuitsregulatoryaction
/LawsuitsSelectedcases/TexacoChevronTexacolawsuitsreEcuador

 

AUSTRALIA ARRESTS POACHING SHIP, SEIZES WILDLIFE PARTS

Australian authorities have arrested the crew of a Uruguayan trawler pursued through Antarctic waters for allegedly poaching endangered fish. Almost 85 metric tons (94 US tons) of Patagonian toothfish – commonly served as Chilean Sea Bass – worth about US$685,000, was found on the boat, allegedly caught in Australian waters close to Antarctica. Following this seizure, Australia began the hunt for another ship suspected of illegally fishing in its southern waters. Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said the boat was thought to be the Ghanaian-flagged Alos. Ghana has been asked not to issue catch documents for the vessel, which would allow it to sell its load, and cooperation was sought from the 24-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Species (CCAMLR) to prevent the vessel’s catch from being offloaded in any of their ports.

 

Australian authorities have also seized body parts from tigers and rhinoceros in a record haul of illegally imported traditional medicine products made from threatened animals. The wildlife products were found in two shipping containers, which yielded Australia’s largest seizure of traditional medicine products made from wildlife, Environment Minister David Kemp and Justice Minister Chris Ellison said in a joint statement.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 8 October 2003

http://www.enn.com/news/2003-10-08/s_9217.asp

Joint Media Release of Environment Minister David Kemp and Justice Minister Chris Ellison: Record Seizure of Endangered Species, 2 October 2003

http://www.law.gov.au/www/justiceministerHome.nsf/0/B88093F50989
65E5CA256DB300222BF7?OpenDocument

 

SEA SHEPHERD CREW HELD FOR DOCUMENTING DOLPHIN KILL
The Japanese police recently arrested three members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who documented the annual dolphin slaughter by local fishermen in the seaside town of Taiji. Apparently, the fishermen attacked the Sea Shepherd crewmembers when they realized that they were filming the hunt. Nevertheless, the police arrested the crewmembers after the fishermen claimed they had been assaulted by them. The crewmembers were held for several hours, questioned, fingerprinted and photographed, warned not to film the dolphin slaughter, and released without being charged. The society announced that the three crewmembers will file charges against the fishermen with the Osaka police.
 

In defence of dolphin and whale killing, the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association said earlier this year that coastal fishermen have reported that the numbers of whales are growing too large and diminishing the volume of fish. They argued that it is therefore essential to cull the whale population to restore ecosystem balance.

Links to further information

ENS daily news, 7 October 2003

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2003/2003-10-07-03.asp

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society press releases, 7 and 11 October 2003

http://www.seashepherd.org/media_info2.asp?id=61

http://www.seashepherd.org/media_info2.asp?id=63

 

THOUSANDS PROTEST AGAINST GM CROPS IN NZ

More than 20,000 people protested against lifting the ban on trials of genetically modified crops in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, in New Zealand. While the government announced that the ban on GM trials would end in a few weeks, protestors demanded that New Zealand remains GM free.

 

Links to further information

ABC News, 11 October 2003

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s964888.htm

GE Free March

http://www.thebigmarch.net/

 

SEPTEMBER 2003

 

HELCOM REPORT ON OXYGEN DEPLETION BLAMES INCREASE IN NUTRIENTS FOR LOSS OF BALTIC SEA WILDLIFE
According to the findings of a report released recently by the Helsinki Commission, the governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, the dramatic loss of marine wildlife recorded last year in the Western Baltic Sea between Denmark, Germany and Sweden is largely the result of extreme weather conditions and an increase in nutrients resulting from human activities. The report recommends stricter controls on nutrients reaching the Baltic Sea to prevent future oxygen depletion.

 

Links to further information

Report of the Oxygen Depletion 2002 Working Group

http://www.dmu.dk/1_om_dmu/2_afdelinger/3_hav/oxdep2002/default.asp

 

SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AGREE ON GM POLICY
The 14 member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) agreed to common guidelines on the regulation of GM organisms and other products resulting from biotechnology. The guidelines cover areas such as policy development and regulation of GM crops and GM food, the handling of food aid, and measures to increase public awareness of biotechnology and biosafety. Member states also agreed to develop national biotechnology policies and strategies, and to increase their efforts to establish national biosafety regulatory systems.

 

Links to further information

SADC recommendations on GMO

 

CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY ENTERS INTO FORCE
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety entered into force on 11 September 2003, 90 days following the deposit of the 50th signature (by Palau) required for the Protocol to come into effect. Adopted in January 2000, the protocol sets out a comprehensive regulatory system for ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Fifty-seven States and the European Community have ratified the treaty to date.

 

The Protocol features one set of procedures for GMOs that are to be intentionally introduced into the environment (such as seeds, trees or fish), and one for GMOs that are to be used directly as food or feed or for processing. Both features are designed to ensure that recipient countries are provided with the information required for making informed decisions about whether or not to accept GMO imports. The first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol will take place in February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

Links to further information

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety website

http://www.biodiv.org/biosafety/default.aspx

CBD press release

http://www.biodiv.org/doc/press/presskits/bs/pr-01-en.pdf

 

CMS AND CCD SECRETARIATS SIGN MOU TO DEVELOP SPECIFIC TARGETED ACTIONS
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD agreeing to cooperate in the development of specific targeted actions to address issues relating to migratory species in areas affected by drought and desertification. In the memorandum, the two conventions agree to participate in each other’s major meetings and to share information of mutual interest. The MOU also requires the UNCCD Secretariat to call on the Parties to the UNCCD to integrate the concerns of migratory species into their national, subregional and regional action programmes and to consult with the CMS in identifying areas critical to the conservation and management of migratory species. Case study collection and a workshop are planned as preliminary steps, following the signing, to identify existing synergies between the two conventions.

 

Links to further information

CCD press release, 2 September 2003

http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/pressrel/showpressrel.php?pr=press02_09_03

CCD website

http://www.unccd.int

CMS website

http://www.wcmc.org.uk/cms

 

AUGUST 2003
 

UNESCO WELCOMES ICMM AND SHELL’S PLEDGE NOT TO EXPLORE WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Both the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies and the International Council on Mining and Metals, which comprises 15 of the world’s largest mining companies, announced in August that they would not explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources with the World Heritage sites. UNESCO, which administrates the World Heritage List, now numbering 754 sites, including 582 cultural, 149 natural and 23 mixed sites, welcomed the announcements as a first step in acknowledging the “outstanding universal value of World Heritage.”

 

Links to further information
UNESCO press release, 27 August 2003
http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php@URL_ID=14175&URL_DO=DO
_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

 

ANNAN HIGHLIGHTS THREAT TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ SURVIVAL
On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that indigenous people “still face threats to their lives and destruction of their belief systems, cultures, languages and ways of life.” Annan underscored the diversity of the human family and noted that the protection and promotion of indigenous rights and cultures is of fundamental importance to all States and peoples.

 

Ole Henrik Magga, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, noted the abuses indigenous people still face and urged them to preserve their culture and languages. In his message, he deplored and condemned “the egregious violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances, the discrimination in the criminal justice system, the forced displacement, the extreme poverty, the danger of extinction of isolated indigenous communities, the continuing threat to indigenous cultures and indigenous lands.”

 

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that virtually all of the 84 indigenous groups in Colombia face or are threatened by forced displacement due to internal strife. The UNDP issued a survey showing that Chile’s Mapuche people, the country's largest indigenous group, suffer many social and economic disparities. 

 

Links to further information
UN news release, 8 August 2003
http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7948&Cr=indigenous&Cr1=people


JULY 2003

 

NATIONAL RECOVERY PLANS BRING HOPE FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
Australia’s Minister of Environment David Kemp recently announced a national recovery plan to increase protection for Australia’s marine turtles. Noting that the number of marine turtles nesting on Australian shores have declined dramatically in the past 25 years, Kemp said the national recovery plan is designed to reverse the decline “as a matter of urgency” to restore turtle populations over the next few decades. The plan identifies five different habitat types that marine turtles use at different stages of their lives and the main threats caused by humans who share these habitats. Actions in the plan aim to reduce the impact of these threats and to increase marine turtle survival rates, particularly of adults and large immature turtles that are to become part of the breeding population.

 

Meanwhile on another continent, Zambia has formulated its national policy on rhinoceros management and rehabilitation. With the assistance of conservation experts and wildlife managers from the 14 member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community, the Zambia Wildlife Authority finalized the policy document, which aims to reverse the current destructive trends and promote rhinos’ conservation. Development of this policy would see the reintroduction of the black rhino, which has been poached to extinction in Zambia.

 

Links to further information
Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia

http://www.ea.gov.au/coasts/species/turtles/recovery/index.html

Environment News Service, 29 July 2003

http://ens-news.com/ens/jul2003/2003-07-29-02.asp

 

WORLD HERITAGE PROTECTION FOR FIVE MORE NATURAL SITES
Five new natural sites, along with 19 new cultural sites, were inscribed on the World Heritage List at a recent session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. The list now numbers 754 sites, including 149 natural, 582 cultural and 23 mixed sites of outstanding universal value.
 

The new natural sites are: Australia’s Purnululu National Park; Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas in China; Uvs Nuur Basin in both the Russian Federation and Mongolia; Monte San Giorgio in Switzerland; and Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam. The committee also extended a natural site that is already inscribed on the list to cover a greater area, the Central Amazon Conservation Complex in Brazil. One natural and two cultural sites were determined to be in grave danger and were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, namely the Walled City of Baku in Azerbaijan, Comoé National Park in Côte d’Ivoire, and Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley.

 

Links to further information
UNESCO news release, 3 July 2003

http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php@URL_ID=10122&URL
_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
 

ECOSOC CALLS FOR END TO AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES
During the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) annual meeting held in Geneva from 30 June to 25 July, ministers issued a declaration urging rich countries to reduce and eliminate agricultural subsidies to ease market access for products from developing countries. The declaration also highlights the need for the implementation of the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the urgent need for WTO to address agricultural export subsidies, domestic support and enhanced market access, as well as special and differential treatment for developing countries.

 

During the opening session, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that it is time for the world to stop talking about rural development and to start acting. Emphasizing that the Doha programme aims to eliminate unfair agricultural trading policies faced by the rural poor and to open markets in developed countries, he said this programme is a critical step in changing the framework of global agricultural policy.


Links to further information

UN press release, 2 July 2003

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7611&Cr=ecosoc&Cr1= 

Environment News Service, 1 July 2003

http://ens-news.com/ens/jul2003/2003-07-01-10.asp

The draft text of the Ministerial Declaration is available at:

http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/

 

EUROPEAN LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR GMOs NOW IN PLACE
On 22 July, the Council of Ministers of the EU formally adopted two new regulations on traceability and labeling of GMOs, and on GM food and feed, completing the EU’s legislation on GMOs. The regulation on traceability and labeling will require business operators to transmit and retain information at each stage of the placing on the market of GM products. The industry will therefore have to ensure that systems are in place to identify to whom and from whom GM products are made available. The new labeling requirements cover all foods consisting of or containing GMOs, foods produced from GMOs irrespective of whether there is DNA or protein of GM origin in the final product, as well as GM feed. The presence of GM material in conventional food and feed does not have to be labelled if it is lower than 0.9%.

 

The regulations put forward a single procedure for the authorization of GMOs and GM food in the EU, with a scientific risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority. Member States will be allowed to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products.

 

The new legislation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. While the European Commission has repeatedly said that the de facto moratorium would be lifted once the regulations entered into force, it remains unclear whether the US and others would drop their WTO challenge even if approvals resumed. US farm organizations and trade officials criticized the regulations as unworkable and unenforceable.
 

Links to further information

European Commission press release IP/03/1056, 22 July 2003

http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt
=gt&doc=IP/03/1056|0|RAPID&lg=EN

Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 3 No. 13, 11 July 2003

http://www.ictsd.org/biores/03-07-11/index.htm

Information on the US-EC dispute on GMOs

http://www.ictsd.org/issarea/environment/biotech_case.htm
 

FORMER WFP CHIEF AWARDED 2003 WORLD FOOD PRIZE
Catherine Bertini, UN Under-Secretary-General for Management and former head of the UN World Food Programme, has been awarded the 2003 World Food Prize. The World Food Prize Foundation praised Bertini’s contribution in transforming the WFP “from primarily a development assistance organization into the largest and most responsive humanitarian relief organization in the world, delivering life-sustaining food aid to over 700 million people.” The prize, referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,” will be awarded on 16 October, World Food Day.

 

Links to further information

UN press release, 17 July 2003

http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7760&Cr=world&Cr1=food

 

UNESCO PRIZE AWARDED TO VENEZUELAN CENTER AND PETER SCHEI
Venezuela’s Centro de Ecología and Norwegian scientist Peter Schei have been jointly awarded the 2003 Sultan Qaboos Prize. The prize, which is given out biennially, recognizes outstanding contributions to the management or preservation of the environment. Venezuela’s Centro de Ecología received the award in recognition of the wealth of scientific knowledge it has generated and disseminated to professionals and the general public in the field of tropical ecology. Peter Schei, who was nominated by UNEP, was acknowledged for his contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources.

 

Links to further information

UNESCO press release, 9 July 2003

http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php@URL_ID=13496&URL_
DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

 

JUNE 2003

 

CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY RECEIVES 50TH SIGNATURE, WILL ENTER INTO FORCE ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2003
As a consequence of Palau’s ratification on 13 June 2003, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will enter into force on 11 September 2003, 90 days following the deposit of the 50th signature required for the Protocol to come into effect. Adopted in January 2000, the protocol sets out a comprehensive regulatory system for ensuring the safe handling, use and transportation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Protocol features one set of procedures for GMOs that are to be intentionally introduced into the environment (such as seeds, trees or fish), and one for GMOs that are to be used directly as food or feed or for processing. Both features are designed to ensure that recipient countries are provided with the information required for making informed decisions about whether or not to accept GMO imports. The first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol will take place in the first quarter of 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, saidthis new regime promises to make the international trade in GMOs more transparent while introducing important safety measures that will meet the needs of consumers, industry and the environment for many decades to come.” Toepfer added that the success of the protocol “depends on developing countries having the skills and systems in place for evaluating GMO imports and handling them safely.” To this end, UNEP, with funding from the Global Environment Facility, is overseeing a $38.4 million scheme to help 100 countries develop the scientific and legal skills for evaluating the health and environmental issues surrounding imports of Living Modified Organisms, as they are known under the Protocol.

 

Links to further information
UNEP press release, 13 June 2003
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/unep157.doc.htm
CBD webpage on Cartagena Protocol ratifications

http://www.biodiv.org/biosafety/signinglist.asp?sts=rtf&ord=dt

 

€30 MILLION STRATEGY LAUNCHED TO PROTECT WEST AFRICA’S COASTS
Approved recently by environment and fisheries ministers from six West African countries at a high-level conference in Dakar, the Regional Strategy for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in West Africa contains a suite of actions costing €30 million over a five year period that will enhance the management of marine and coastal resources and optimize their contribution to social and environmental security, sustained livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. With an estimated 60% of the 22 million people in the six West African countries - Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal - living on the coast and a large proportion of that population depending on fisheries for their livelihood, marine resource management is critical to the wellbeing of the subregion. Overfishing along the West African coast has threatened local livelihoods and biodiversity, and while several MPAs have been established, protection and replenishment of fisheries resources in the subregion requires greater commitment and efforts.

 

“All partners share the same vision and principles for achieving sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in the coastal zone. This [Strategy] will now allow efficient, cost-effective and highly beneficial synergies and exchanges of information among tens of different institutions responsible for managing resources over 3,500 km of coastline,” said Pierre Campredon, Executive Secretary of the International Foundation for the Banc d'Arguin (FIBA) and leader for the production of the Strategy.

 

The outcome of collaboration between IUCN, WWF, Wetlands International, FIBA, UNESCO and the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission, the Regional Strategy has garnered the support of a further 50 conservation, research and development organizations. The coalition will work on key recommendations from the WSSD and NEPAD to establish an efficient network of national or Transboundary MPAs, restore fisheries to sustainable levels, preserve traditional know-how and cultural heritage of local communities and develop ecotourism.

 

Links to further information

IUCN news release, 16 June 2003

http://www.iucn.org/info_and_news/press/prmarinewaf.pdf

The Communiqué of partners

http://www.iucn.org/info_and_news/press/marinewaf.pdf

 

PERU RATIFIES INTERNATIONAL TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES
Peru, the cradle of plant species fundamental to world food consumption, such as the tomato and potato, ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture on 5 June 2003. As the Secretary of FAO’s Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture José Esquinas-Alcázar stated, Peru’s signature and subsequent ratification of the Treaty “recognizes the importance of placing the conservation and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources within a multilateral framework that will benefit not only the Peruvian agricultural sector but the world as a whole.” With 20 ratifications to date, the Treaty requires another 20 ratifications to become binding.

 

Links to further information
FAO Press ReleasE, 6 June 2003
http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/news/2003/19025-en.html

 

MAY 2003

 

BIODIVERSITY ESSENTIAL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION
On the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May), Kofi Annan recalled that “biological diversity is essential for human existence and has a crucial role to play in sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Biodiversity provides millions of people with livelihoods, helps to ensure food security and is a rich source of both traditional
medicines and modern pharmaceuticals.” Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighted that the theme of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity, Biodiversity and poverty alleviation - challenges for sustainable development, underscores the pivotal role of biological diversity in eradicating poverty through sustainable development and benefit sharing.

Links to further information
CBD Secretariat Press Release, 22 May 2003

http://www.biodiv.org/doc/press/pr-2003-05-22-bioday-en.doc

 

US AND CANADA INITIATE WTO PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE EU ON GMOS
On 13 May, both Canada and the US filed separate official requests for consultations with the EU over its de facto moratorium on the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Argentina and Egypt have expressed their intention to follow. The countries allege that the moratorium poses an unjustified trade barrier in violation of the WTO Agreements. The European Commission expressed regret at the request, which it described as “legally unwarranted, economically unfounded and politically unhelpful.” Civil society groups also attacked the decision, accusing the US to trying to force GM foods on European consumers.

 

Links to further information

USTR Press Release, 13 May 2003
http://www.ustr.gov/releases/2003/05/03-31.pdf

US Consultation request to the European Commission
http://www.ustr.gov/new/biotech-consultation_request.pdf

DFAIT Press Release, 13 May 2003
http://webapps.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/minpub/Publication.asp?FileSpec=
/Min_Pub_Docs/106146.htm&Language=E

DG Trade Press Release, 13 May 2003

http://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/goods/agri/pr130503_en.htm

FOEE Press Release, 13 May 2003

http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2003/AW_13_May_Moment.htm

Global Trade Watch Press Release, 13 May 2003

http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=1422

BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, 14 May 2003

http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/03-05-14/story1.htm

 

APRIL 2003

 

HUMAN GENOME MAP COMPLETED

On 13 April, scientists from the Human Genome Project announced that they had decoded nearly 100% of the human genome structure, almost two years ahead of schedule. This accomplishment signifies that almost three billion letters of genetic codes in the human DNA structure have been identified. From June 2000, 97% of the human DNA information had been decoded and made freely available to scientists on the internet. However, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry are still facing the challenge of moving from identifying a malfunctioning gene, to being able to do something about it. 

 

Links to further information

BBC News, 14 April, 2003

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2940601.stm

 

FEBRUARY 2003

 

KENYA SEIZES POACHED IVORY

Kenyan wildlife authorities announced the seizure of a major haul of illegal ivory and the arrest of five people near the country’s border with Ethiopia. Referring to the decision by last year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to allow Namibia, South Africa and Botswana to stage one-off sales of their ivory stock piles, the Kenyan officers said they feared that even limited, regulated sales would encourage poaching, and insisted that a ban on all ivory trade should remain in place.

 

Links to further information

BBC online news, 25 February 2003

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2797325.stm

 

LAUNCH OF CRITICAL ECOSYSTEM PARTNERSHIP FUND

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) has recently been launched with the aim to create a US$150 million fund to address environmental hotspots around the world. A joint initiative of the World Bank, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Japanese government, the Fund has already contributed $2 million to the “Building a Global Constituency for Biodiversity Conservation” project. The project, which helps protect endangered species and create new reserves and environmental legislation in more than 30 countries, is the result of an alliance between the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation and Conservation International. “RARE is the institution of choice when it comes to demonstrated leadership in the conservation awareness business,” said Jorgen Thomsen, CEPF Executive Director. “With this grant, the largest we’ve ever issued, we will not only help to take RARE to a new level but significantly increase the number of new conservation leaders that result from RARE’s awareness campaigns.”

 

Links to further information

World Bank press release, 25 February 2003

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:2009
3921~menuPK:34457~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

Conservation International press release, 20 February 2003

http://www.conservation.org/xp/CIWEB/newsroom/press_releases/022603a.xml

 

EUROPE�S GMO MORATORIUM AT AN END?

The recent rise in the number of applications for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) scheduled to go through the EU approval process could mean that the EU moratorium on releases and placing on the market of GMOs is ending. Eighteen applications for placing GM products on the market, forwarded by Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK are now awaiting public comments and the Member States� opinion on their circulation.

 

The approval process of GMOs in the EU has been blocked since late 1998, when Denmark, Greece, France, Italy and Luxembourg, then supported by Austria, enforced a de facto moratorium, until the deliberate release directive is revised and new legislation on GM food and feed, and traceability and labelling is developed. According to the voting system, these countries can still block authorizations if they wish to uphold the moratorium.

 

This development comes against continuous rumours over possible plans by the US to challenge the EU moratorium in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Reportedly, a decision to take action was due at the end of January, but was then postponed.

 

Links to further information

Environment Daily, 19 February 2003

http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=13882

List of GMO notifications

http://gmoinfo.jrc.it/partc_browse.asp

 

JANUARY 2003

 

NO BANANAS IN 10 YEARS?

Bananas could be extinct within the next decade, according to findings by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain. As reported in New Scientist, bananas could be globally extinct in 2013 from fungus attacks. As almost all banana varieties are sterile mutants, the plant cannot breed and thus evolve to develop resistance to pests. The possibility of extinction would pose a problem to the 140 million people, mainly in Africa and Asia, whose staple diet is based on bananas and plantains, as well as to the many countries economically dependant on banana exports and plantations.

Fungus-resistant GM bananas have been presented as a possible alternative, but growers fear consumer resistance and are meanwhile hoping for better fungicides. Honduran scientists have recently discovered a fungus-resistant variety that could be grown organically.

 

Links to further information

The Guardian, 16 January 2003

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,875786,00.html

 

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