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The lead negotiator shed tears. Delegates hugged and applauded. It was 5 a.m. on January 29, and five years of grueling debate over how to regulate biotech products had come to a fragile conclusion in Montreal. Representatives from more than 130 countries had at last signed off on the first treaty regulating international trade in bioengineered animals and plants. And depending on which account you read in the heady days following, the environmentalists had scored a devastating victory over business interests. Or vice versa. Or no, wait, stop — they both won.

“The beleagured industry in genetically modified foods suffered its most serious setback,” warned the [U.K.] Observer story about the agreement. Greenpeace, no pushover, hailed the pact as a win for the environment and consumers. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal called the agreement “benign” to U.S. industry.

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