“Bio-safety concerns agriculture, health and biotechnology, requiring consultations with these sectors”

Countries that wait to ratify international protocols relating to bio-safety are keen to understand the complexity involved and take an informed decision. Bio-safety concerns agriculture, health and biotechnology, requiring consultations with these sectors, said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Talking to the media at the conclusion of the sixth meeting of the parties of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol (CoP MoP 6) here on Friday, he emphasised the need for countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol relating to access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits with communities, and the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol dealing with liability and redress (due to consequences arising from the use of living modified organisms).

The country parties that attended the meeting shared their experience on how they were faring with the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety and associated agreements. Several delegates have been talking about slow progress in the implementation of this agreement.

Dr. Dias said there was a need to call attention to the issues that were of interest not only to the environmental community, but also to the sectors that utilised genetically modified organisms. Those who wished to invest in biotechnology sought more legal certainty on what the rules are. He expressed confidence that India would soon ratify the supplementary protocol pertaining to liability and redress.

Underscoring the importance of funding to strengthen various aspects of the protocol on bio-safety, he wanted countries to pledge funds. This was needed for the CBD to take up capacity-building in countries where there was such requirement. Conceding that availability of funds was indeed an area of concern and uncertainty, he hoped that countries would cooperate.

Substantive issues relating to bio-safety, such as capacity-building, handling, transport, packaging and identification of living modified organisms, notification requirements, unintentional trans-boundary movement and emergency measures, risk assessment and risk management, and socio-economic considerations came up for discussion at the five-day meeting.

From the CBD Secretariat, support is being extended through the Global Environmental Facility to countries to equip them to expedite the ratification process and “hopefully in the next two years, 50 countries would ratify the Nagoya Protocol and 40 for the Nagoya- Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocols.” At present, six countries have ratified the former, and three the supplementary protocol. Responding to questions, Dr. Dias said he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.