Wednesday, 3 October 2012

MOP6/COP11: India formally takes the reins of world biological diversity conservation with a call to nations to speed up the process of ratifying the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and sustainable use of biological resources

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 1: India on Monday formally took the reins of world
biological diversity conservation with a call to nations to speed up
the process of ratifying the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and
sustainable use of biological resources.

The change in guard took place at the start of the three-week
Conference of Parties (COP-11) to the United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) here. Union Minister for Environment and
Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, who inaugurated the Cop-11, took over the
chair of the CBD from Japan.

India, as the host nation of CoP-11, will now guide the 193-member
Convention of Biological Diversity for the next two years in
formulating scientifically designed risk assessment of living modified
organisms, which include GM crops, and mobilization of funds and
resources to implement the CBD protocols on biosafety and biodiversity.

There is no consensus on living modified organisms and the biological
safety challenges they throw up. This is partly because many countries
do not have the scientific resources to make a proper risk assessment.
Only three countries have ratified the biosafety protocol. India has
signed the agreement and has not yet ratified it. At least 40 nations
need to ratify the biosafety protocol to make it an international law.
.
In her inaugural address, Jayanthi Natarajan sought to allay the fears
of some countries, which have reservations on living modified
organisms and the long-term impact they cause on human and animal
health and biological diversity.

Stating that the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety recognises that
countries may take into account their international obligations and
the impact of LMOs on conservation and sustainable use of biological
diversity, Jayanthi Natarajan called upon the member countries to
arrive at a consensus.

“The subject of LMOs is controversial with concerns on long-term
impact on ecology and conservation," the Union Minister said
emphasizing the need for all countries to fast track the ratification
process. India, she said had signed the supplementary protocol and was
in the process of ratifying it.

She said India is a mega diverse country with a strong and vibrant
biotechnology industry and thus it was committed to the biosafety
norms implementation. “The momentum built at MOP-6 will help in
resolving critical issues for effective implementation of the
Cartagena protocol,” the minister added.

Braulio Fe Dias, executive secretary of CBD, Charles Gbedemah,
principal officer, biosafety, CBD, Hem Pandey, joint secretary,
government of India, Bakary Kante, director, Division of Environmental
Law and Conservation, UNEP, T Chatterjee, secretary, Union Ministry of
Environment and Forests, Masamichi Saigo, representative of CoP-MoP 5,
Japan, Governor ESL Narsimhan, Chief Secretary Minnie Mathew, and MF
Farooqui, special secretary, Ministry of Forests were present.

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