Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2000


The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international treaty that was adopted in 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD is a global environmental agreement that aims to conserve biodiversity, promote sustainable use of its components, and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

The Cartagena Protocol specifically addresses the issue of biosafety, which refers to the safe handling, transfer, and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology. LMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally through mating or natural recombination.

The objectives of the Cartagena Protocol are:

  1. To contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling, and use of LMOs 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.
  2. To facilitate international trade in LMOs for their safe transfer, handling, and use, while preventing or minimizing the potential adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

The Protocol establishes a set of procedures and requirements for the handling and movement of LMOs across international borders, with the aim of reducing potential risks to biodiversity and human health. It places an emphasis on transparency, public participation, and access to information, allowing countries to make informed decisions regarding the import and export of LMOs.

Key provisions of the Cartagena Protocol include:

  1. Advance Informed Agreement (AIA): The Protocol requires exporters of LMOs to obtain the prior informed consent of the importing country before the first shipment of the LMO. This process allows the importing country to assess potential risks and make informed decisions regarding the import of LMOs.
  2. Risk Assessment and Management: Parties to the Protocol are required to conduct risk assessments of LMOs and take appropriate measures to manage any identified risks. The specific details of risk assessment and management are left to the discretion of each country.
  3. Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH): The Protocol establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House, which is a mechanism for the exchange of information related to biosafety, LMOs, and the implementation of the Protocol. The BCH serves as a central repository of information and facilitates access to information for Parties and the public.
  4. Capacity Building: The Protocol recognizes the importance of capacity building in enabling countries to implement its provisions effectively. It encourages cooperation among Parties and provides support for developing countries in areas such as technology transfer, risk assessment, and management, and scientific and technical cooperation.

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has been ratified by 171 parties, including the European Union. However, please note that the status of international agreements may have changed since then. It is always recommended to refer to the latest official sources or the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity for the most up-to-date information.

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