Enter the Aarhus stage: The Biotech Industry

[img_assist|nid=707|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]Today "Business and Industry" entered the stage. Again compared to the CBD negotiations I'm used to there is little industry present: so far there are only four them, which makes their background even more remarkable.
Out of the four: three directly represent the biotech industry: EuropaBio (represented by a fromer Monsanto employee), CropLife and European Crop Protection Association (biotech looby organisations in the EU). The fourth one comes from the International Chamber of Commerce, an organisation that repeatedly works to make sure that biotech companies are not hindered by national or international legislations.
What are they doing here? Some countries, esp. some of the EU states have regional and national regulation that forces companies to be open about field trials with genetically modified crops, about GMOs in food and feed, about locations of trials and what they are planning to do to restrict the spreading of GMOs into the environment. Again and again there are attempts to reduce such information, again and again vital information is simply declared as "confidential business information" and kept secret.
In this climate, the Parties to the Aarhus Convention managed to approve the Almanty GMO amendment in 2005 - an amendment to the original protocol that explicitely spells out obligations for access to information for GMOs. This amendment will come into force once 27 countries have ratified it. This number has now stagnated at 26.

But of course that's not the end of the story. The planned work programme 2012-15 plans "support the implementation of the Convention in this area and the application of the Guidelines on genetically modified organisms, inter alia, by promoting exchange of information on good practices; promote the entry into force of the amendment."
One important area for that is the cooperation between the Aarhus Convention and the Carthagena Protocol on Biosafety. We will see what business thinks about that tomorrow morning.