by Stephen Leahy
BONN, May 29 (IPS) – An intense North-South debate over genetically engineered trees has sidetracked delegates at a U.N. conference on biodiversity here: African nations want a global moratorium, while a few rich countries led by Canada say it should be up to individual countries to regulate.
While 168 nations that are part of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) debate the issue, a new two-year U.N.-funded study warns that developing countries simply don’t have the capacity to manage or monitor biotechnology.
“Africa doesn’t have the technical and scientific capacity to fully debate let alone enforce rules around biosafety of biotechnology,” said the study’s co-author, Sam Johnston of the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UN-IAS) in Tokyo.
“Genetic contamination by GE plants is a huge issue and it’s increasing,” Johnston told IPS in Bonn.