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UP FROM THE BEACH

NGOs have been busy formulating their positions on several of the key issues before the COP, as well as on those issues that they feel should indeed be addressed. NGOs want the issue of the Biosafety protocol to be included within the medium-term programme of work of the COP. Specifically, they would like an intersessional meeting to address this issue. As well, NGOs are concerned about the gap between developed and developing countries on this issue. They have noted that some countries who favor a protocol, do so only on the condition that it apply only to the transport, and not the production of living-modified organisms. Some NGOs are also promoting the idea of a forests protocol to be negotiated under the aegis of the Biodiversity Convention. NGOs list several reasons for this approach: forests represent over 60% of all biodiversity; a protocol could deal effectively with conservation and protection as well as sustainable use; a separate negotiating track would take far too long; FAO does not necessarily possess the forest conservation expertise needed; and a forest protocol would in no way preclude the possible negotiation of a separate framework convention in the future, if such an instrument was indeed needed.