[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[SANET-MG] Move UN environment agency out of Canada
This is the first notice that Canadian news media have taken over the
Canadian government efforts to play their own politics with the UN agencies.
Diplomat calls on UN to move agency from Canada
Canadian Press, Wednesday, May 25, 2005
OTTAWA -- A United Nations environmental agency should be moved from
Montreal if delegates
continue to have problems getting Canadian visas to attend meetings,
says a top African diplomat.
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, official negotiator for the G-77 group
of developing countries and China, made his demand in a letter to Klaus
Topfer, executive director of the UN Environment Program.
Tewolde appealed for a motion to censure Canada for the difficulty he
had in getting a visa and for the continued difficulties he said are
being experienced by other delegates to a Montreal conference on
About 800 delegates from around the world are expected to attend
negotiations next week on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, whose
central purpose is to prevent genetic contamination from genetically
The visa controversy comes amid a global dispute over genetically
engineered foods that pits many poor countries against major crop
exporters such as Canada and the U.S.
There have been reports that Canadian GE canola has been found growing
around eight Japanese ports despite rules on handling that are supposed
to prevent such contamination.
One of the biggest concerns about GE crops is that they will mix with
indigenous plants, changing the genetic composition of valued species
and producing new unwanted varieties, sometimes referred to as superweeds.
Tewolde received a visa to visit Montreal only after protests from many
North American groups including the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth,
Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians.
At least four other would-be participants in the meeting are known to
have been refused visas and there are likely others, said Eric Darier, a
Greenpeace activist in Montreal.
He said all the delegates who have encountered visa problems are from
poor countries and all are critics of Canada's policies promoting the
trade in genetically modified foods and crops.
One of the major issues at the Montreal conference will be rules on the
labelling of GE products. Many countries are pushing for much tighter
regulations, but they are opposed by major exporters, including Canada.
Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, charged that Ottawa is
deliberately excluding people who oppose Canada's position.
"It just seems to us too much of a coincidence that this happened,'' she
"It looks clear to me this is a political decision. Dr. Tewolde is a
renowned scientist. There'd be no reason to pick him out, there's no
terrorist link, nothing like that.''
Others suggest the exclusion of certain delegates could be due to
suspicion that people from poor countries may seek to stay in Canada
once they arrive.
"If Canada cannot relax its hypervigilance to allow these talks to
occur, then it's obvious the talks cannot occur in Canada,'' said Sarah
Dover of the Sierra Club.
Marie-Christine Lilkoff, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs, said she
could not comment on any case involving a visa application due to
In his letter to Topfer, Tewolde proposed that "one refusal or delay by
the government of Canada in issuing a visa requested . . . shall become
sufficient ground for the closure of the Secretariat of the Convention
on Biological Diversity in Montreal and its transfer to the territory of
Darier of Greenpeace said the escape of GE crops in Japan, documented by
Japanese environmental groups through laboratory tests, could endanger
Canada's access to a major market.
"Through Canadian exports of canola we are now contaminating one of our
major trading partners.''
He said Australia, which, like Canada, is a major promoter of biotech
crops, has imposed a moratorium of GE canola to prevent contamination of
GE crops. He added that it is precisely such contamination that the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is intended to prevent.
The conference on biosafety officially opens next week, but preliminary
discussions have already begun.
To unsubscribe from SANET-MG:
1- Visit http://lists.sare.org/archives/sanet-mg.html to unsubscribe or;
2- Send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> from the address subscribed to the list. Type "unsubscribe sanet-mg" in the body of the message.
Visit the SANET-MG archives at: http://lists.sare.org/archives/sanet-mg.html
For more information on grants and other resources available through the SARE program, please visit http://www.sare.org.