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Fourth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-4)
21-25 June 1999
Intersessional Meeting on the Operations of the Convention
28-30 June 1999 - Montréal, Canada

SBSTTA-4 delegates broke into two working groups. Martin Uppenbrink (Germany) chaired discussions of drylands ecosystems and alien species. Zipangani Vokhiwa (Malawi) chaired discussions on new plant technology and sustainable use, including tourism.

Working Group I
Harold Mooney, on behalf of the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP), opened the discussion with a presentation on the GISP's activities. He discussed the situation in the Galapagos Islands to illustrate ecological problems and control costs of invasive species and stressed the importance of capacity-building. Delegates then considered the Executive Secretary's paper on developing principles for the prevention of impacts of alien species and further development of the GISP (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4/8).
RealAudio excerpts from Dr. Mooney's presentation
FRANCE supported using the precautionary principle on the issue of transboundary control.
NEW ZEALAND recommended asking the GISP to develop principles for COP-5's consideration.
Christian Samper, Chair-elect of SBSTTA-5, on behalf of Colombia, spoke on the development of a database on alien species control and prevention startegies and its inclusion in the CBD's Clearing House Mechanism.
IUCN drew attention to its guidelines for reducing biological loss due to the invasion of alien species, which will be finalized next year.
Working Group II

Dr. Richard Jefferson, Chair of the Center for the Application of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture (CAMBIA), gave a presentation on the genetic use of restriction technologies (GURTs), including both variety-level V-GURTs and trait-specific T-GURTs. He suggested that commercially viable V-GURTs could have some merit in decreasing the frequency of transgene spreading, but outstanding issues remain, such as: toxicity of inducing compounds and cellular toxins; environmental spreading of V-GURT traits; and patents as a means of control of V-GURTs. He noted that GURT technology will not be commercially available for 5 years.

Complete RealAudio of Dr. Jefferson's presentation:

Part one: Explanation of the molecular biology of GURT

Part two: Use and timeline of GURTs, patent and intellectual property issues, impacts on biodiversity, scientific uncertainty

Part three: Questions and answers on the impacts on ecosystems of GURTs

Acting Executive Secretary's Reception
Hamdallah Zedan, Acting Executive Secretary of CBD, hosted a cocktail reception for SBSTTA participants.
Zedan is pictured here with John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda, left) and Philemon Yang (Cameroon, right)

© Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.