Sri Lanka pressed by US on IP protection, GM food

Oct 17, 2009 (LBO) – The United States has asked Sri Lanka, ranked high for software piracy in Asia, to better enforce intellectual property rights and also lift restrictions on American imports like genetically modified food. Sri Lanka’s Director-General of Commerce Gomi Senadheera acknowledged the US concerns on IP rights and said the government was trying to improve enforcement.

“They had concerns with regard to IP. In the last few years we have made a lot of progress. We have the rules in place – it is enforcement that’s the issue.”

Delaney also said restrictions on US imports by Sri Lanka had figured in the talks.

“There are a variety of restrictions on US imports.”

These include GM food, Delaney said.

Sri Lanka introduced rules to ban GM food imports some years ago but later relaxed them after protests from importers.

Agriculture development minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara said in July this year that Sri Lanka favours GM food imports, albeit with some restrictions, and that the government was consulting US experts on allowing GM food imports and cultivation of GM crops.

Nanayakkara said imported GM food is being consumed in the island although officially it is not allowed in Sri Lanka