Impressions from the MOP7 in Pyeongchang, from the NGO perspective

The Cartagena Protocol is an important tool to deal with transboundary movements of Living Modified Organisms. The MOP7 met in Pyeongchang, South Korea to discuss risk assessment, unintentional or illegal shipments, and how to help countries share information. Also on the agenda was capacity building and guidance, especially ways to aid developing countries, many of which are rich in biodiversity and need assistance to avoid contamination from imports. MOP7 heard a number of delegates voice concern about a lack of resources to deal with GM field trials and how to test and identify suspect cargoes.

The MOP7 was criticized by local Korean non-governmental organizations who felt left out of the discussions, with no support to hold meetings or engage in public information campaigns. A side-event was held to discuss contamination issues, and outside the heavily guarded convention venue, civil society organizations held a conference to discuss seed saving and rural development issues, including women farmers’ concerns.

In Pyeongchang, there was a parade on October 3 with some 200 members of local farmers’ groups and co-op organizations, Via Campesina and the Slow Food movement in Korea, as well as FA-Net in Japan representing the many organizations opposed to GM food and agriculture in Japan. This peaceful demonstration was greeted by the gates with 4-5 buses of security police who prevented any further access to the MOP7 venue.

Nevertheless, it shows how divisive the biotechnology issue is, full of empty promises from the biotech companies, and the lack of trust among millions of farmers in Asia who refuse to grow GM crops.

CBD Alliance has daily reports from the MOP7 meeting.