Biosafety: international meeting to adopt binding rules on trade in GMOs

May 30, 2005

Brussels, May 2005

Representatives of 119 governments are expected to adopt binding rules on the documentation that has to accompany genetically modified agricultural commodities, such as wheat, maize and soya, when they are transported across borders. These rules will ensure that only approved GMOs enter the territory of the respective Parties. The documentation requirements are the most important point on the agenda of the Second Meeting of the Parties (MOP2) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which will take place 30 May to 3 June in Montreal, Canada.

At the meeting, the European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of the EU, will push for documentation requirements that are clear, meaningful, practical for both exporters and importers of agricultural products, and consistent with EU law.In addition to the documentation requirements, MOP2 will take decisions on a range of other issues that are relevant for effective implementation of the Protocol, including:

  • guidance on risk assessment for GMOs
  • cooperation in research and information exchange on the socio-economic consequences of GMOs,
  • the effectiveness of capacity-building activities in developing countries,
  • the operation of the web-based information exchange portal established by the Protocol, the so called Biosafety Clearing House,
  • public awareness and participation,
  • rules of procedure for the Protocol’s compliance mechanism.
MOP2 is being preceded 25- May by another meeting in the framework of the Protocol, which is devoted to the development of rules and procedures on liability for damage caused by GMOs. This is the first step in a negotiation process due to finish by 2008.

Background

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is the only international treaty governing the cross-border transport of genetically modified organisms and a supplementary agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Biodiversity. The rules set out in the Protocol are intended to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and protect the public from the potentially harmful effects of GMOs. The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 119 Parties, including all Member States and the European Community.

The Cartagena Protocol is incorporated into EU legislation through a wide range of laws. The cornerstone of this legal framework is Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms. It is supplemented by a Regulation on the transboundary movements of GMOs, which was adopted in 2003.

More information on MOP2 of the Cartagena Protocol can be found at: http:///www.biodiv.org/biosafety/cop-mop/secon d-meeting.aspx

For EU legislation on GMOs, see MEMO/05/104 of 22 March 2005 and go to:

http:///www.europa.eu.int/comm/enviro nment/biotechnology/index_en.htm

Item source: IP/05/623 Date: /05/2005

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