The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ofWashington, D.C., has asked about 100 biotechnology andpharmaceutical companies and state regional biotech centers toelaborate on their legal and technical concerns regarding theConvention on Biological Diversity -- article by article.

UNEP culled the mailing list for its survey from thePharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association, the Association ofBiotechnology Companies, the Industrial BiotechnologyAssociation and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. "Wedidn't deliberately leave anyone off the list," explained RohitKahnna, the associate program officer for UNEP-Washington.

Although only a handful of surveys have been returned,Kahnna told BioWorld that "intellectual property rights comeup again and again." Not surprising, since it's the potentialerosion of those rights on an international level that has ledbiotech proponents to oppose the biodiversity treaty all along.

Kahnna said that the Washington office of UNEP is forwardingall the survey results to UNEP's environmental law unit inNairobi, Kenya. "The information -- general views as well ascomments article by article -- will be useful for the interimsecretary for the convention," Kahnna told BioWorld.

"We intend to take into account fully the legal and technicalissues to the extent that's possible," Kahanna said. "We wantthe United Nations Conference on Environment andDevelopment to know the concerns of the various stakeholders." -- Jennifer Van Brunt

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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