Published: Wednesday 15 August 2001

A UN commission has agreed on setting up, for the first time, global principles for assessing the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods. The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a division of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has agreed that the safety of food derived from GM seeds should be tested and approved by governments before they are marketed.

For the first time, a UN agency has decided to ban commercial exploitation of underwater heritage, including archaeological sites and shipwrecks, which have become vulnerable to unscrupulous treasure hunters in recent years. Experts from 90 countries have reached an agreement on a draft convention to this effect. The agreement was negotiated under the auspices of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The draft seeks to protect heritage situated in the territorial waters of countries, farther away from their shores on the continental shelf and in countries' exclusive economic zones.

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