Governments adopt international rules on trade in GMOs

March 21, 2006

Brussels, 20 March 2006

The Third meeting of the 132 Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (MOP3) was concluded on 17 March in Curitiba, Brazil. It adopted a landmark decision on detailed documentation requirements for genetically modified organisms in the international trade of agricultural commodities. In the final hours of negotiations, trade implications of documentation requirements were the main focus of major players such as Mexico and Brazil. The final compromise would have not been possible without the political commitment of the Brazilian government to make MOP3 a success.The European Commission negotiated on behalf of the EU and played an important role in brokering the final compromise.

Environment Commissioner Dimas stated: "This decision sets out documentation requirements that are clear, meaningful and practical for both exporters and importers of agricultural products, while being consistent with EU law. It provides for legal certainty for the international trade in agricultural commodities. As such, it is a landmark decision that bolsters the role of the Cartagena Protocol.I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Brazilian government that has been instrumental to achieve this outcome."

In addition to the documentation requirements, MOP3 took decisions on a range of other issues that will enhance the effective implementation of the Protocol, including:

  • biosafety capacity-building activities in developing countries,
  • risk assessment for GMOs,
  • the operation of the web-based information exchange portal established by the Protocol, the so called Biosafety Clearing House.
Background

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is the only international treaty governing the cross-border transport of genetically modified organisms. The Protocol is 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 132 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/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=MOP-03

For EU legislation on GMOs go to:

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

Item source: IP/06/335 Date: 20/03/2006

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