§ Mr. Alan Simpson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will set out the negotiating position of the UK delegation to the biosafety protocol discussions in Cartagena, Colombia; what support Britain gave to proposals from the Miami Group; and at what stages Britain supported moves which would exempt genetically modified ingredients from the clear labelling and advance notification proposals. 
§ Mr. Meacher
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 9 February 1999,Official Report, columns 153–54, which set out the UK's negotiating line for the meeting. The EU maintained its agreed position throughout the negotiations in Cartagena, and the UK remained firmly within that position. The UK, together with European colleagues, attempted to build a bridge between the positions adopted by most developing countries and the Miami Group. The EU did not support any proposals that would have exempted living modified organisms (LMOs) within the scope of the protocol being subject to a requirement for documentation and clear identification. An EU compromise package introduced in the final stages of the negotiations with a view to achieving consensus included a provision enabling the first Meeting of the Parties to decide whether and how the protocol's procedures would apply to the transboundary movement of LMOs for 458W intended direct use as food or feed or for processing. This compromise package received widespread support, but proved unacceptable to the Miami Group.
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 8 March 1999]: The UK goal was to secure reference to the precautionary principle in the Protocol. We therefore strongly supported the EU submission prior to the penultimate meeting on the Biosafety Protocol to include a reference to the precautionary principle in the Preamble, and in the Objective of the Protocol. The latter provides the fundamental underpin for all the provisions of the Protocol.
While these proposals were retained in the draft negotiating text for the Colombia meeting, there was considerable opposition to the inclusion of references to the precautionary principle in the last round of negotiations. In the final stages, the EU put forward a compromise package based on the text put forward by the Chair of the Working Group. The package included retaining a reference to the precautionary approach in the Preamble and in the Objective of the Protocol. In an attempt to achieve consensus, the EU was prepared to agree to delete wording based on the precautionary principle in the article dealing with the decision procedure if the reference to the precautionary principle remained in the Objective and a formulation of it was contained in general principles section of the risk assessment annex: all notifications under the Protocol would have required a risk assessment. Hence, the operational provisions of the Protocol would have been based on the precautionary principle.