Europe's Senior Advisory Group Biotechnology (SAGB) onFriday said the Biodiversity Treaty, ratified in Rio de Janeiro inJune, is not good for biotechnology in Europe -- even thoughmany European governments signed the treaty.

The treaty was initially aimed at protecting the naturaldiversity of living organisms. But a position paper by SAGB, aEuropean biotech industry lobbying group, said that the treatyhas done nothing to this end. Not only does the treaty diminishthe protection afforded to intellectual property, but "it alsounfairly singles out biotechnology, thereby impeding thedevelopment of new products," according to SAGB,headquartered in Brussels.

Both American biotech associations -- the Association ofBiotechnology Companies (ABC) and the IndustrialBiotechnology Association (IBA) -- vigorously protested partsof this treaty last summer at the time of the Earth Summit, andPresident Bush refused to sign it.

IBA President Richard Godown told BioWorld that the treaty is"completely deficient in its treatment of intellectual property.We felt that it would operate to prevent the sharing of theknowledge that's gained through biotechnology withdeveloping countries simply because of lack of protection."

Godown applauded SAGB. "We are delighted to see SAGB take aposition that buttresses the position IBA adopted earlier on.

"Obviously, the biotechnology industry is enormouslyinterested in the maintenance of biodiversity as a primalsource of discoveries," Godown added.

SAGB stated that it too "supports the concept of protection andpreservation of biodiversity." However, "while the conventionis intended to encourage greater circulation of plant varieties,its provisions on legal ownership of plant resources could havethe opposite effect if permission has to be obtained each timefrom countries of origin," SAGB said.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.