Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its federal agricultural policy.

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Source: CongressDaily/A.M., Nov 16, 1999 pNA.

Title: Glickman Finds Less Biotech Opposition Than Expected.(Brief
Article)

Full Text COPYRIGHT 1999 National Journal Group, Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Nov-16 -- (CongressDaily) ROME, Agriculture Secretary Glickman told CongressDaily here this past weekend that he did not find as much opposition to biotechnology, including genetically modified organisms, as he expected at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization's 30th annual conference.

However, he is "not sure" if any "formal or structural process" to resolve biotechnology issues will be developed at the upcoming World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle.

Glickman said he will discuss the issue with World Trade Organization Director General Mike Moore at a working lunch in Geneva today.

After meetings with Italian officials, a dinner organized by U.S. ambassador to the FAO George McGovern and bilateral meetings with agriculture ministers from Brazil and Finland and informal discussions with others, Glickman said he came away thinking that "most of Europe" does not oppose biotechnology.

But he added the issue "is in desperate need of management" and "needs a dispassionate management review."

Glickman said Friday he had decided to stop in Geneva to discuss the Seattle meeting, which is supposed to set up the structure for the next round of trade talks, because Moore's recent statements about the prospects for the meeting have sounded more pessimistic than U.S. officials believe is warranted.

Glickman also said in his speech to the FAO delegates that "the United States looks to FAO to take a leadership role in biotechnology and to be an objective and analytical clearinghouse in the current debate."

He added, "Only through a system rooted in science and untainted by ideology or profit-seeking can the best of technology's potential be realized and its risks averted."

Meanwhile, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf, a Senegalese official who was re-elected for a second six-year term Saturday, told reporters that if the developed countries continue to subsidize their farmers heavily, international officials may need to reach "an agreement that under certain circumstances some assistance is necessary" for farmers in developing countries.

In recent years, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have discouraged developing countries from subsidizing agriculture and have insisted on elimination of subsidies as a condition for help with debt problems.

Diouf said it is not "fair" for Europe and the United States to give their farmers "the advantage of cash transfers" and then oppose their use in developing countries.

In response to a question, Diouf also said the Cairns Group of countries, which was started by Australia during the Uruguay Round, cannot be the only voice for developing countries during the next round, and that countries should speak on their own and as part of regional organizations.

 
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