Reversal in U.S. environmental policy Treaty shunned by Bush reportedly to be signed

April 21, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

In a major reversal of U.S. environmental policy, the Clinton administration is preparing to sign a biological diversity treaty that former President Bush refused to support at last year's Earth Summit, according to knowledgeable sources.

Mr. Bush had opposed the treaty amid concerns it would not protect the patents of American biotechnology companies, which prospect in tropical forests for plants, animals, insects and microorganisms useful in making drugs and other products.

The Clinton administration, also worried about patent protection, is expected to issue a declaration that interprets the pact as protective of intellectual property rights when the United States signs it. Sources said Mr. Clinton would announce his intention today to sign the pact.

Following negotiations with the administration and environmental groups, the biotechnology industry appears to have dropped its previous opposition to the treaty.

An industry spokesman attributed the change of heart to the administration's willingness to issue the interpretive statement protecting property rights.

The treaty provides a series of steps that nations must take to save plants, animals and other organisms in their habitat.

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