OTTAWA (Canada) / AMSTERDAM (Netherlands), May 19, 2005 — Mere days before beginning negotiations on controversial new measures for biosafety, Canada has denied a visa to the chief negotiator for Africans.

Media Advisory
Thursday 19 May 2005
Friends of the Earth International

“In effect, Canada is screening out negotiators who stand up to biotech bullies. This is no way to host international negotiations,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada.

Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabhercc, a highly respected Ethiopian negotiator, has been a key figure in African countries’ efforts to protect biodiversity and human beings from genetically engineered organisms. He was expected to participate in discussions and insist on labelling for all genetically engineered commodities and for liability protection in cases of damage to the environment or human beings arising from products of genetic engineering.

Canada along with Argentina and the United States may be responsible for up to 90 percent of the genetically engineered crops in the world; yet Canada and the other two countries refuse to ratify the global agreement to protect biodiversity.

“If Canada screens visa for negotiators based on their positions, Montreal can kiss its international secretariats good-bye,” says Ms. Olivastri.

The Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety is the first international agreement to regulate trade in genetically engineered organisms. It was agreed in Montreal in January 2000 and has now been ratified by 119 countries.

For more information:

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada (cellular) 613 724 8690
Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International, 39 33 3149 8049