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Biotech Bullies Force Sri Lanka to Back Off on Frankenfoods Ban

Biotech Bullies Force Sri Lanka
to Back Off on Frankenfoods Ban

news release and a Reuters story:

Thursday, August 31, 2001
Press Release

Health Ministry betrays Lankan Citizens on GMF Regulations

The regulations on Genetically Modified (GM) food which were supposed
to come to in operation on 1st September 2001 were postponed
indefinitely by the Minister of Health on 30th August 2001.

This can only be seen as a move to satisfy the US Ambassador's
repeated requests. It is widely believed that it was the Secretary to
the Ministry of Health who had convinced the Minister that the ban
should be removed.

These Regulations were originally to be implemented from 1st May 2001,
but this action was postponed by three months to abide by the
conditions of the World Trade Organization. The new date was set as
1st September 2001 according to the Gazette no 1190/5 of June 26th
2001.

This Regulation were widely criticized by the GM food importers ie.
the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce led by Millers Ltd which is the
importer of Kraft cheese and many other GM products including a
number of Kellogg's products.

The US Embassy and the High Commissions of Australia and the New
Zealand backed this pro-GM Foods lobby.

We see this as definite double standards as the New Zealand government
has extended their moratorium on GM foods last month and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has rejected genetically engineered
corn in July 2001 saying that it has not passed the safety test. Even
the UK, Italy, Luxemburg, Germany, India, Philippines, Thailand,
Austria, and France have restricted GM food items in one way or
another.

We wonder whether the U.S., Australia and New Zealand are still
treating developing countries like Sri Lanka as colonies to dump
untested GM foods.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce requested a postponement of the
GMF regulations until 2004, which will indirectly allow US, Australia and
New Zealand to use the Sri Lankan people as laboratory mice in testing
these foods.

The regulations on Genetically Modified Foods was commended by many
people around the world, In fact over 200 civil society organizations
including Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Action Network wrote
to President Bush, urging him not to interfere in the actions of the
Sri Lankan government which were taken with the state of national
health in mind.

According to market surveys done by the Environmental Foundation
many possibly GM foods are available in the Sri Lankan foods stores.
The gazette regulation banned 21 items including some soya, corn, tomato,
potato and cheese products.

We warn the public that because of this decision, the GM foods, which
have lost the market in US, Europe and many other developed countries,
will flood the Sri Lankan food markets and food importers will get
profits out of those cheap products. Kit Kat is one such GM product
which came to the Sri Lankan Market at a cheaper price after it lost
its market in Europe

However, the indefinite postponement of the GM regulations is a
serious violation of the public trust by the Government. We strongly
urge that the Minister and the Secretary who were involved in this
betrayal to resign.

We further state that we have no option but, in due course, to release
the possibly GM food list to the public allowing individuals to take
the decision as to whether they need to take the risk of consuming
such foods.

We therefore call upon the public not to eat the GM foods available in
the market as a mark of protest against GM food developers, the GM
food exporters and the Sri Lanka Health Ministry who don't consider
the state of your health as important.

Environmental Foundation Limited
3 Campbell Terrace,
Colombo 10.
Fax/ Tel:01-697226,
E-mail: efl@ef.is.lk

Sri Lanka's GM food ban delayed indefinitely - source

SRI LANKA: September 4, 2001

COLOMBO - Sri Lanka has postponed indefinitely plans to impose one of
the world's toughest bans on genetically modified (GM) food, a senior health
ministry official said yesterday.

The ban, which drew criticism from the United States and was delayed for
three months at the request of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), had been
due to go into effect on September 1.

"The secretary of the Health Ministry has issued a circular ordering that
the regulations do not go into force until further notice," said the senior
official, who did not want to be identified.

The ban had been recommended by a government committee which said Sri
Lanka needed time to study health risks associated with the new technology.
Proponents of GM products say they contribute to higher crop yields and
lower production costs, while critics fear long-term health and
environmental consequences.

A ban went into force on May 1 but was later delayed until September 1 after
criticism from Washington, which said there was "no credible scientific
evidence" to justify it.

The WTO had also asked Sri Lanka to give its trading partners 60 days to
prepare for the restrictions.

The ban required 21 categories of food imports to be completely free of GM
products which contain a gene from another organism, generally to make them
resistant to herbicides or to produce their own toxins to kill pests.
"We don't know whether it will ever see the light of day," the official
said.

The ban had also drawn fire from local business groups which asked the
government to wait until 2003 when the United Nations Codex Alimentarius
Commission is due to announce an international standards regime for GM
foods.

Health Ministry officials said the ban had not been expected to seriously
hamper Sri Lankan trade except in processed foods.
Sri Lanka is a significant importer of wheat and sugar.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


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