Saturday, 6 October 2012

MOP6/COP11 biodiversity: Meeting of Parties on Cartagena Protocol on biosafety concludes

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 5: The five-day sixth Meeting of Parties (MOP) to the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety concluded here Friday with a call to
the nations to involve the indigenous and local communities while
taking policy decisions on adapting genetically modified organisms.
The MOP-6 also decided to set up an international ad hoc expert
committee to decide on economic considerations of the people involved.

This in effect gives utmost importance to the wishes of the indigenous
and local people before a country decides on new GM crops using
biotechnology. India as the new Chair of the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) played a key role in pushing the agenda on
socio-economic considerations.

This is the first time that the CBD has laid a major thrust on
socio-economic considerations of the local people involving biosafety
issues arising out of living modified organisms (LMOs) or GM crops in
popular parlance. The MOP-6 has adopted as many as 18 key decisions
unanimously with all parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
accepting the need to conduct research on the socio-economic impact of
living modified organisms to fill the knowledge gaps and identifying
specific socio-economic issues, including those with positive impacts.

The key issues include the supplementary protocol on liability and
redress of damage to biodiversity by LMOs, transboundary movement of
LMOs, monitoring and reporting, and budgetary provisions.

"We are happy with the progress. The mood at the conference was very
good. There were some difficult issues, but overall the progress is
good.  With today's decisions, discussions on biosafety ends in the
current round and from Monday we will take up a whole new agenda on
the Convention of Biological Diversity," said Dr. Braulio F. de Souza
Dias, executive secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity.

One issue that saw considerable discussions and some divergence was
that pertaining to socio economic considerations, a key point for many
of the 192 member countries of the Convention. The conference decided
to appoint an ad hoc technical group that will go into the issues
related to socio-economic considerations of different countries and
regions. The group consists of eight members from the five regions each.

  "The group is expected to complete its report by the time of the
next edition of the Conference of Parties two years later.  This is an
important issue for many countries, including India, as biodiversity
is closely linked to livelihood," M F Farooqui, Special Secretary to
the Ministry of Environment and Forest, said.

  The group will map out what kind of socio-economic considerations
should go with each region and country. "So fat socio economic
considerations were not given a specific shape, but this will now
address the issue," he added.

Another issue that saw some concern among delegates was budgetary
provisions to support member countries to implement the protocol.  It
was estimated that a core budget of $ 5,102 million was needed as the
core budget, apart from voluntary contribution and trust fund.

"All member countries will be contributing to this core budget
depending on their gross national product, as per the UN scale.

Richer countries will contribute more and vice-versa," Braulio said.

As a follow-up to Friday’s decisions, all member countries will now
have to implement these in the context of their environment.  "India
will need some policy initiatives to implement these decisions.  But
we do not need new laws, as our existing legal framework is robust to
cover these issues," Farooqui said.

He said India would also like to host meetings and regional workshops
to help other countries implement these decisions.

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