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Biological Diversity Treaty

November 11, 1994

"Don't Be Distracted by Alien Cows," by Donald Kennedy (Commentary, Oct. 24), paints a distorted picture of the value of the International Convention on Biological Diversity. The National Cattlemen's Assn., representing approximately 230,000 cattle producers nationwide, is vehemently opposed to the biodiversity treaty. By allowing "signatory nations to monitor organisms and their habitats and to develop protection plans for those in danger," this treaty would effectively trample private property rights by mandating undefined minimum levels of species diversity found primarily on privately owned lands.

Kennedy refers to the present as being "this greatest extinction episode in the planet's history," when in fact, the United States has several species protections in place, in the form of the Endangered Species Act and other federal and state laws. But the more difficult issue, that of defining "biological diversity," and identifying appropriate levels of biodiversity for current and future generations, has yet to be accomplished on a domestic level, let alone globally. It is therefore premature to obligate the United States to an international treaty which has yet to be defined in domestic law.

NCA considers the Senate decision to postpone ratification of the biodiversity treaty to be prudent. The treaty is very vague and incomplete. Additionally, NCA has received a copy of the draft Section 10, Global Biodiversity Assessment Section. This 600-page document outlines "measures for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its components," and is designed to establish recommended national approaches to maximize biological diversity. This new document, and presumably many more serious sections which have yet to be drafted, were not transmitted to the Senate with the treaty and therefore have not been considered for U.S. ratification. Also, due to the broad nature of this biodiversity treaty, additional hearings should be scheduled next year for appropriate Senate committees.

The value of our nation's lands and resources is paramount to the very people who would be most affected by this treaty--the private property owners.


Associate Director

Private Lands, Water and Environment

National Cattlemen's Assn.


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