Key international negotiations on the trade in genetically modified crops (GMOs) start on Monday 30th May in Montreal, Canada.

Media Advisory
Friday 27th May 2005

The talks come just days after the European Union impounded a shipment of illegal GM maize originating from the United States [1]. A ‘decontamination team’ from Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, will welcome the delegates on Monday.

More than 110 countries will meet as parties to the United Nations Biosafety Protocol, agreed in 2000 [2]. The meeting is already steeped in controversy as Canada has refused visas for several delegates from the developing world [3].

Friends of the Earth International’s ‘decontamination team’ will be demanding tough international measures to prevent accidental GM contamination of the food chain in order to protect the public and the environment worldwide. Its demonstration on Monday will be accompanied by the release of a new report, Tackling GMO contamination [4].

Juan Lopez, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth’s International Programme on Genetic Engineering said:
“It is vital that these talks focus on protecting citizens worldwide fom the threat of unwanted GMO contamination, rather than promoting the interests of GMO producing countries and biotechnology companies. The international community must come together and force the few countries that grow these crops to put in place effective containment measures to stop the contamination of the rest of the world’s food supply and our environment.”

For more information contact::
In Montreal,
Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada +1 613 724-8690
Don Huff, Friends of the Earth Canada + 1 416 805-7720
Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International
Tel: +1 514 803-6718 or +39-333-1498049
In Europe
Clare Oxborrow, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Tel: +44 (0) 7712 843211

[1] European Commission press release, 25 May 2005.
[2] For more information on Biosafety Protocol and the “Second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety” go to the official UN website:
[3] The Canadian authorities have refused visas to the GM critic Agbenyo Dgzobedo of Friends of the Earth Togo and also to the Iranian Government’s biosafety expert Jafar Barmaki – both have attended UN talks on biosafety in the past. Canada also originally refused a visa to Africa ‘s chief negotiator for the talks, Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher , but granted him a visa at the last minute after international protests.
[4] The report is available to download at the Friends of the Earth International website The report concludes that the threat of GMO contamination would be greatly reduced if the few countries producing GM crops were forced to segregate effectively conventionally grown crops from GM ones.