Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological

Understanding Biosafety
The concept of biosafety encompasses a range of
measures, policies and procedures for minimizing
potential risks that biotechnology may pose to
the environment and human health.
Establishing credible and effective safeguards for
GMOs is critical for maximizing the benefits of
biotechnology while minimizing its risks.
Unit Objectives
Explain the scope and intention of the Cartagena
Distinguish between the categories of Living
Modified Organisms ( LMOs)
Discuss the trans-boundary Movements of LMOs
Illustrate the Advance informed agreement (AIA)
Refer to the Biodiversity Clearing House
Determine the role of Customs and border control
in implementing the CBD Protocol
Unit Outline
Scope and Intention of Cartagena
Categories of LMOs
Transboundary Movement of LMOs
Advance Informed Agreement ( AIA)
Role of Customs & Border Control
Scope of the Cartagena Protocol
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an
international treaty that seeks to protect biological
diversity from the risks posed by living modified
organisms (LMOs), also often referred to as
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are
a product of modern biotechnology.
The Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the
Convention on Biological Diversity.
Purpose of the Biosafety Protocol
Contribute to ensuring the
safe transfer, handling and use
of LMOs resulting from
modern biotechnology that
may have adverse effects on
the conservation & sustainable
use of biological diversity,
taking also into account risks
to human health
* In accordance with the precautionary approach
* Focuses specifically on trans-boundary movements
Status of Protocol
On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a
supplementary agreement to the Convention known as
the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003,
ninety days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of
Currently 163
parties to the Protocol
Status of Ratification in the Caribbean
Parties to the Protocol from the region:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados,
Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic,
Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis,
Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
Definition of LMO
A living modified organism
(LMO) is any living organism
that possesses a novel
combination of genetic material
obtained through the use of
modern biotechnology.
Also frequently referred to as genetically modified
organisms (GMOs)
Categories of LMOs
LMOs for intentional introduction
into the environment (e.g. seeds,
live fish)
LMOs intended for direct use as
food or feed, or for processing (e.g.
agricultural commodities – corn,
canola, cotton)
LMOs for contained use (e.g.
bacteria for laboratory scientific
Categories of LMOs
These different categories of LMOs under
the Protocol have different requirements
for their handling, transport, packaging and
Article 18 of the Protocol (& related COPMOP decisions) set out those
Transboundary Movement Procedures
The Biosafety Protocol regulates the transboundary movement of living modified organisms
by establishing procedures for the export and
import of these organisms and maintaining an
information exchange mechanism known as the
Biosafety Clearing-House.
Transboundary Movement of LMOs
Transboundary movements of LMOs intended for
intentional introduction into the environment of the Party
of import are subject to the advance informed agreement
(AIA) procedure, which applies before the first intentional
trans-boundary movement of the LMO in question.
Step 1 – Notification by Exporter
Step 2 – Acknowledgement of receipt of notification
by Importer
Step 3 – Decision Making
Transboundary Movement of LMOs-FFP
Transboundary movements of LMOs-FFP are
subject to the following two-step procedure:
Step 1: Informing the Biosafety Clearing-House about the
final decision on domestic use.
Step 2: Decision making by a potential importing Party.
A Party may take a decision on the import of an LMO-FFP
under its domestic regulatory framework.
Precautionary Approach
The Protocol reflects a fundamental concept known as the
Precautionary Approach which means that a government
may decide not to permit a particular GMO to be imported
across its borders.
This is the case even if there is insufficient scientific evidence
about the GMO’s potential adverse effects.
Concerns could include the risk that imports of genetically
engineered foods may replace traditional crops, undermine
local cultures and traditions or reduce the value of
biodiversity to indigenous communities.
Precautionary Approach
Objective: Safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs
• Rules &
Decision making
• Risk
• Risk
Competent National
Authorities +
Handling, transport,
- Documentation for
- Standards
Customs +
Competent National
- Information
- Awareness &
Society (public +
private entities)
National / Regional Measures
The Ministry of Agriculture would be the government
agencies mainly concerned with the importation of animals,
plants and the products derived there from.
Some Caribbean States have not yet enacted legislation
specifically to deal with imports or exports of LMOs /GMOs
however they fall under the general requirements of the
Ministry of Agriculture.
Customs must receive either a Phyto-santitary certificate or
other permit before releasing such consignments
Case Study
Biosafety Issues for Belize
Read the document provided and discuss in
small groups with the aim of identifying some
of the challenges to be overcome in the
absence of specific legislation to deal with the
import of LMOs /GMOs in some member
The Role of Customs Officials
In implementing the Biosafety Protocol customs
officials are required to:
Ensure LMO imports have prior approval (decisions)
Ensure LMO shipments are accompanied with
proper documentation
Verify that contents of shipments match
accompanying documentation
Detect illegal LMO imports
Take appropriate measures
The Role of Customs Officials
These information requirements can be
provided in different types of
documentation such as:
A commercial invoice;
 A document required or utilized by existing
documentation systems; or
 Other documentation as required by domestic
regulatory/administrative frameworks
The Role of Customs Officials
When a shipment of LMOs arrives at a port of
entry, the role of customs is to:
1.Verify if shipment has proper import approvals & if
there are any conditions on its import
◦ This information can be obtained from Competent
National Authority & BCH
2.Verify that documentation is complete
3. Ensure that contents of shipment correspond to
information in accompanying documentation
◦ Follow national procedures on sampling &
The Role of Customs Officials
When a shipment of LMOs arrives at a port
of entry, the role of customs is to (cont.):
4 a. Admit shipment to country if import of LMO
has been approved & documentation is complete
4 b. Follow domestic rules and procedures for
refusing import if import of LMO has not been
approved and/or documentation is incomplete
The Role of Customs Officials
Other general responsibilities:
Regular communication with the
Competent National Authority
regarding LMOs arriving at the
ports of entry
Forwarding LMO import
documents to relevant national
Detecting and alerting relevant
authorities about possible illegal
imports and unintentional transboundary movements of LMOs
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety recognizes the
potential of biotechnology if developed and
used with adequate safety measures
Protocol is intended to ensure safety of LMOs,
not to prohibit their trade
Customs officials have a central role to play in
implementation of the Protocol
Domestic regulations are key
It is important to obtain relevant information
and keep abreast with new developments (see
information sources below)
Contacts for Further Information
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
413 Saint-Jacques Street, suite 800
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H2Y 1N9
Tel.: +1 (514) 288-2220
Fax: +1 (514) 288-6588
Protocol website:
Biosafety Clearing-House:
Unit Conclusion
Clarify any questions
Review Unit Objectives
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