Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 14, 1999

Agriculture set to figure prominently at international trade talks; U of G experts available to discuss

Canada is expected to take the offensive when World Trade Organization (WTO) talks on agriculture begin this November in Seattle. In addition to trade barriers and tariffs, genetically modified foods and organisms (GMOs) and biotechnology are expected to figure prominently.

The U.S. and Canada may lobby for the maintenance of the current international science-based rules for bio-engineered foods, with the opposition provided by European and perhaps Asian negotiators. Usually, negotiations on agriculture and food are driven by farmers and agri-food processors.

What could make this round of WTO negotiations unusual is that it is consumers and consumer groups, especially in western Europe, who have raised GMOs as a potentially major issue, rather than producers. The efforts of consumers effectively lobbying their political leaders means that GMOs will be big news in Seattle.

As a leading agri-food centre of research and teaching, the University of Guelph has a number of experts who can comment in the leadup to, during, and after the talks.

-- Prof. Karl Meilke, Department of Agricultural Economics and Business, and Co-Director of the federally-funded Canadian Agri-food Trade Research Network (CATRN). Meilke can discuss the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, administered protection laws and agri-food policy issues likely to arise at Seattle. 519-824-4120, Ext. 2769

-- Prof. Dave Sparling, Agricultural Economics and Business, can discuss the impact of biotechnology on the supply chain and supply chain management, labelling for GMOs, strategic alliances, joint ventures and identity preservation. In addition to being a faculty member, Sparling is also a farm owner and president of a high-tech company specialising in testing for GMOs in the agri-food and food processing sectors. 519-824-4120, Ext. 2775

-- Prof. Karen Huff, Agricultural Economics and Business and Member, CATRN. Can discuss the economic impacts of multilateral trade agreements and argi-food policy changes. 519-824-4120, Ext. 3855

-- Prof. Alan Sullivan, Plant Agriculture, can discuss the effects of biotechnology on agriculture, farming systems, and on horticultural crops. 519-824-4120, Ext. 2792

-- Prof. Scott Jeffrey, Agricultural Economics and Business and Resident Fellow, CATRN. Can discuss the impacts of policy interventions on Canadian agricultural production. The effects of trade policies on the Canadian dairy sector, and the impact and effectiveness of safety net programs in Canadian agriculture. 519-824-4120, Ext. 3332

-- Prof. Brian Doidge, Ridgetown College, can discuss WTO and income support programs, producer and export subsidies, transportation issues, biotechnology and marketing. 519-674-1525

-- Prof. Bram Cadsby, Economics, can discuss WTO Subsidies Code. 519-824-4120, Ext. 3320

-- Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Director of Research, George Morris Centre, can discuss biotechnology policy, trade and inter-organizational relationships. 519-822-3929, Ext. 206

-- Prof. Brian Woodrow, Political Science, can discuss WTO as it impacts on telecommunications and financial services, particularly insurance. A veteran of the GATT and Uruguay round of negotiations, Woodrow also co-organized a Sept., 1999 conference in Geneva, entitled "Regulation in Financial Services: Implications for the Millennium Round (WTO)." 519-824-4120, Ext. 3501

A more complete media guide to trade issues is available at:

For more information, contact Alex Wooley, Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Guelph, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

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