Friday, January 1, 2016

Cartagena Protocol

By Anton Antonio
January 2, 2016

Biosafety is the prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health.  These prevention mechanisms include conducting regular reviews of the biosafety in laboratory settings, as well as strict guidelines to follow.  Biosafety is used to protect us from harmful incidents.

“The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement on biosafety as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity effective since 2003.  The Biosafety Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.  The Biosafety Protocol makes clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits.  It will for example let countries ban imports of a genetically modified organism if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence that the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn and cotton.  The required number of 50 instruments of ratification/accession/approval/acceptance by countries was reached in May 2003.  In accordance with the provisions of Article 37, the Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003.  As of March 2015, the Protocol had 170 parties, which includes 167 United Nations member states, the State of Palestine, and the European Union.  In accordance with the precautionary approach, contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of the Protocol is to contribute to ensuring adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of “living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology” that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements.  The protocol defines a “living modified organism” as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology, and “living organism” means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic materials, including sterile organisms, viruses and viroids.  “Modern biotechnology” is defines in the Protocol to mean the application of in vitro nucleic acid techniques, or fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection.  “Living modified organism (LMO) products are defined as processed materials that are of living modified organism origin, containing detectable novel combinations of replicable genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology (for instance, flour from GM maize).  “Living modified organism intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (LMO-FFP)” are agriculture commodities from GM crops.  Overall the term “living modified organisms” is equivalent to genetically modified organisms – the Protocol did not make any distinction between these terms and did not use the term “genetically modified organism”.”  (Wikipedia)

There are several international agreements --- that are aimed at mitigating the effects of global warming and climate change… and, in this case, an agreement on biosafety --- have already been passed and agreed upon by a majority of participating countries.  The next set of blogs/articles will be devoted to these international accords to increase the level of awareness on their history, aims and objectives.  One such international accord is the Cartagena Protocol.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Wikipedia, (2015).  “Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety”.  Retrieved on January 2, 2016 from

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