Delegates have now had the opportunity to reiterate their views on how to proceed with the biosafety issue. It appears that the G-77 is united in their call for action to proceed on biosafety. In a draft decision prepared by the G-77 and China on the medium- term programme of work, reference is made to the establishment of an open-ended ad hoc expert group to examine the implementation of Article 19, paragraph 3, of the Convention related to the need for, and modalities of, a protocol on biosafety. The draft decision also refers to the open-ended group holding two meetings during 1995 with a view to transmitting its report to COP-II. While OECD countries appear to have a wider range of views on how to proceed, the North/South divide is not as wide on this issue as it is within the GEF debate. Some Northern countries, such as the Netherlands, support the development of guidelines now, with a legally-binding instrument to be negotiated at a later stage. They believe that the guidelines should be implemented as an interim measure during the period in which the instrument is being negotiated to ensure at least some degree of regulation. Other countries such as Japan do not support the idea of a legally-binding protocol, arguing that voluntary guidelines would address the matter sufficiently. By contrast, countries such as Sweden, Norway, and the Eastern European countries, openly support the need for a legally-binding protocol. In fact, Slovakia is calling for a review of the possibility of a moratorium on the release of GMOs pending the implementation of a protocol. Other countries such as Australia, support the compromise approach as set out in Article 19.3 for a working group to study the need, and if the need is determined, for the appropriate process to be set in place. Despite statements that they are willing to support a process on biosafety, the US has not expressly endorsed any work on the protocol so far.
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