SEATTLE - The World Trade Organization ministerial meeting started last week with the bangs of tear gas canisters and anti-biotech slogans in the streets and ended four days later with whimpers of disgust from sleep-deprived delegates who could not agree on the agenda for a new trade round, if a new trade round should be launched, and whether it should include biotechnology issues.

There was a lot of discussion in the official negotiating sessions about biotechnology, and a great deal of shouting about it in the streets. Protesters wore "criminalize biopiracy" stickers, Greenpeace distributed condoms labeled "take precaution ban GMOs", and mainstream environmental groups furiously denounced suggestions that trade in biotech products should be regulated primarily on the basis of scientific risk, calling that approach a threat to human health and wildlife.