Brussels, 13 March 2002
The European Commission today adopted a Proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which aims at ensuring the ratification of the Protocol by the EU.
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström commented: "The EU played a leading role in the conclusion of this Protocol and today's proposal shows the EU's strong commitment to rapid ratification."
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted on 29 January 2000. The EU and its Member States signed up to the Protocol on 24 May 2000. The Biosafety Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
The overall objective of the Protocol is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of safe transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focussing on so-called 'transboundary movements', i.e. movements across national boundaries.
The Protocol is based on the precautionary approach and it establishes an information procedure to ensure that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of GMOs into their territory. The Biosafety Protocol has been signed by 107 parties and so far been ratified by 11 (50 ratifications are needed for the Protocol to enter into force). Last month, the Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation on safe handling of GMOs, which aims at implementing the Cartagena Protocol in EU legislation (see IP/02/299 ).