EUROPEAN COMMISSION Comité de Conférence des Stagiaires


Dear Sir/Madam, The Conference Committee of Stagiaires of the European Commission would like to invite you to take part in a conference on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and World Trade: Friday, 4 February 2000 09.30 to 18.00
« Charlemagne Bldg. » (Room S.3), Rue de la Loi 170
Brussels, Belgium

The aim of this conference is to have an open and informed exchange of views on the impact of biotechnology on world trade between a variety of speakers with expertise on this controversial issue. Speakers include representatives from the European Commission, the Council of the EU, consumer and environmental groups, the biotech industry and others. BBC Correspondent
Sharon Weeler will chair the conference and act as moderator for the round-table discussion.

For more details please see the attached programme and appendix.

Participation is free of charge, however, we do require that you return a completed registration form by e-mail or fax at the latest on Wednesday, 2 February 2000 to one of the following persons:
Ida BELLING Tel. 29 513 34 Fax : 0032 2 295 73 32
Anna ALBOVIAS Tel. 29 523 55 Fax : 0032 2 295 73 32
We look forward to seeing you there.
Yours sincerely,
Members of the Conference Committee


Friday, 4 February 2000, 09:30 – 18:00
Rue de la Loi 170 (Charlemagne Building) Room S-03

09:30 OPENING ADDRESS Commissioner David Byrne, DG Health and Consumer
Session One: Introduction to the European Framework on GMOs 
09:40 Introduction European Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection 
09.50 The Global knowledge revolution in the life sciences and the EU response Mark Cantley, European Commission, DG Research 
10:00 Benefits from the GMOs Aventis or Novartis 
10:30 Potential Risks of GMOs. The role of science in the GMOs debate: identify risks, uncertainties and benefits Prof. H.R. Davies, Scottish Crop Research Institute, member of the European Scientific Committee of Plants
11:00 Coffee Break
11:15 The role of the public in the GMOs debate: public pressure and labelling regulations Martin Frid, Association of European Consumers (AEC) 
11:45 The vision of an environmental NGO Dan Leskien, Friends of the Earth (FoE) 
12:15 Current status and evolution of the regulatory framework: a possible answer to the issue? Volker Matzeit, European Commission, DG Environment


Session Two: WTO – The Millennium Round 
14:00 Introduction to the Agenda for
the Millennium Round Georgios Kiriazis, European Commission, DG Competition
14:15 Applying WTO rules to GMOs regulations Rene Von Schomberg, European Commission, DG Trade 
14:45 Japan's approach to WTO issues on GMOs Hiroshi Takahashi, Counsellor - Japanese Mission to the EU


Session Three: Sustainable biotechnology (GMOs) and trade in the 21st century 
15:30 The route towards sustainability: The Precautionary Principle
Mr. Franzone, European Commission, DG Environment 
16:00 International Management of the GM technology Jean-Paul Decaestecker, Council of the
European Union 
16:30 Round Table discussion on Sustainable Biotechnology and Trade: the way forward? T. Van der Hagen, DG Health and Consumer Protection; M. Frid, AEC; T. Garcia Azcarate, DG Agriculture; D. Leskien, FoE; Rene Von Schomberg, DG Trade; Aventis or Novartis

17:45 Closing address


Following the successful splicing of the gene in the early 1970s, policy makers around the world began to speculate on the revolutionary implications of biotechnology for economic transformation. We now have the ability to manipulate biological processes in the creation of new types of plants and animals, which would not be possible by traditional or natural methods. It is estimated that in the field of genetics, the quantity of information is doubling every two years.

Hundreds of biotech start-up firms are joining the race to be among the first to harness the new technology’s promised profitability. Although there have been numerous discoveries of biotech applications, the global eye is focused on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The issue of GMOs, especially when dealing with food, has caused a world-wide furore that is escalating as countries become more aware of the breadth of the benefits and risks.

The economic perspectives of GMOs are closely linked to international trade. The potential for profit through trade, the inevitable and connective effects of globalisation on national economies, as well as the possibility for GMOs to improve the lives of many through increased and more efficient production are promoted by GMO advocates. Environmental, health, and social
considerations on the risk of global free trade of GMOs are the strongest arguments proposed by GMO sceptics.

With the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), for the first time a truly powerful international institution has been established to observe the terms of trade and sanction attempts at national protectionism. As the issue of GMOs is of an international nature, it implores the need for an international agreement to deal with its transboundary concerns. However, no
such agreement yet exists. This November in Seattle, a new round of high-profile trade negotiations began, known as the Millennium Round. There are proposals for the creation of a biotechnology working group within the WTO to address the difficulties of the subject. But even this step is controversial to many, because they fear that their concerns will not be properly addressed.

Until recently, the debate on GMOs at the international level had been limited to discussions between large economic powers. It is time to broaden the debate to include other actors. To this end, our Conference Committee would like to establish an educational forum on the socio-economic, ethical and legal aspects surrounding the issues of GMOs and trade.

Our main target audience are the civil servants of the European Union Institutions; mainly those working on environmental, agricultural, health, trade and economic issues, as well as the hundreds of stagiaires currently working at the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. Our audience either is, or will in the future, be in a position to influence the
decision-making process. We aim to provide them with the basic tools of knowledge to construct a well-informed opinion on what has insofar been a heavily debated and controversial topic. However, in order to broaden the debate and to enrich the overall discussions at this conference, we also look forward to the participation of other interested groups such as officials from enterprises, NGOs, and academic institutions. Their presence can help to create a constructive dialogue that fosters a common understanding between all parties.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION Comité de Conférence des Stagiaires
Conference on Genetically Modified Organisms and World Trade Brussels,
Friday, 4 February 2000

Official Registration Form
(Please print clearly)
Government Industry NGO IGO Media Interest group Other
Mr./M. Mrs./Mme Ms.Mlle Dr./Dr Prof.
Postal Code: ___________________________
Telephone: + ___________________________
Fax: + ________________________________
E-mail: ___________________________________________________
WWW: __________________________________________________

AEC      Genteknik      Hem