Brussels, 29 July 2002
Can research cooperation be intensified? How do we deal with the risks presented by new discoveries? How can developed countries ensure that developing countries have access to new technologies? How can consumers be brought to see the advantages?
These were the questions posed by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler at a meeting of farm ministers from the EU, Japan, the USA, Canada and Australia in Nara, Japan on July. The questions came in response to a presentation by US Secretary for Agriculture, Ann Veneman, who spoke of the contribution that new technologies can make to food safety, the environment and agriculture.
The meeting was aimed at preparing for the World trade organisation (WTO) talks on agriculture, an agreement at which is necessary for a conclusion of the Doha round. Mr Fischler called for consideration of the environment and food safety, a reduction in trade distortion through domestic support and export subsidies, increased market access and more favourable treatment for developing countries.
Delegates at the meeting agreed in general with Mr Fischler's approach and emphasised the importance of ensuring developing countries' engagement in the process.