Present Status of the IPPC and Upcoming "Review"

Western Ancient Forest Campaign wafcdc at
Tue Dec 2 17:37:22 EST 1997

From: Steve Holmer <wafcdc at>
Subject: Present Status of the IPPC and Upcoming                     "Review" of the SPS Agreement

TO:           Forest Activists
FROM:     Faith T. Campbell & Jim Jontz
DATE:      December 2, 1997

SUBJECT:  Present Status of the IPPC and Upcoming
                   "Review" of the SPS Agreement

     As you remember, in September we asked your assistance in
persuading the U.S. government, and through it, other nations, to seek
revisions in the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which
was scheduled to be adopted by the Council of the Food and Agriculture
Organization in early November.  The reason for our request was that we
believed that the new IPPC would hinder our government's right to
regulate imports in order to protect our forests and other ecosystems from
damage by invasive exotic pests -- insects, fungi, disease pathogens, etc.
-- and weeds.

     In response to our combined expressions of concern, high-level
officials in the Council on Environmental Quality, Department of the
Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of
Agriculture studied the text of the IPPC with greater attention than
earlier.  This scrutiny persuaded these officials that many of our
concerns were, in their words, "valid."  They were apparently most
troubled by the twin requirements that an invasive species' damage be
definable in only economic terms and that no phytosanitary measures
could be targeted on species for which this case had not been made. 

     Consequently, the U.S. delegation to the FAO Council meeting
tried to persuade the 107 other countries there to adopt some changes in
the text of the treaty to minimize the damage.  They were not successful
in obtaining changes in the text.  However, the U.S. did receive
unanimous acceptance of a resolution that states:

     With reference to Article II bis of this Convention, nothing in this
     Convention, and in particular in Articles V or VI thereof, shall be
     interpreted as limiting the rights or the obligations of the
     contracting parties to this convention under the Agreement on the
     Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS

     U.S. Government officials believe that this resolution --
especially given its unanimous adoption at the time the treaty was
approved -- will protect America's right to impose phytosanitary
measures in order to protect the environment -- despite the persistence
in the text of the IPPC itself of very restrictive language.  

     We are disappointed that we were not invited to be part of the
delegation to the FAO.  Furthermore, we are still waiting for an
opportunity to discuss the details of the Administration's new position. 
Going into the "review" of the SPS Agreement we have no assurance that
environmentalists will be more influential the second time around. 
However, our efforts -- including the letter signed by over seventy-five
environmental organizations and other steps -- have made the
Administration much more aware of the problems these agreements raise
in relation to minimizing damage by alien pests.
Steve Holmer
Campaign Coordinator

Western Ancient Forest Campaign
1025 Vermont Ave. NW  3rd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
202/879-3189 fax
wafcdc at

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