Philip Regal An international biosafety protocol is being debated under the Congress of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (COP) that emerged from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This might seem superficially odd. What does biodiversity have to do with biosafety? Yet the convention provides a unique opportunity to try to prevent dangerous projects with recombinant DNA and related techniques-"biotechnology" as the term is popularly used.

The journey of biosafety to the COP began because biotech promoters convinced United Nations agencies and Third World countries that root economic problems that contribute to the loss of biodiversity can be solved by investing heavily in biotechnology. Biotech would also mine "genetic gold" from tropical biodiversity and thus provide a rationale for preserving biodiversity.

Biotech promoters managed to include in Chapter 16 of Agenda 21 (the Rio agenda for action) a $20 billion-per-year Third World investment in biotech to solve...

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