Little progress, conflict of interests & unabated unintentional transboundary movements
Closing Statement by Civil Society at MOP7
While we welcome the continued work on risk assessment and socio-economic considerations via the continuation of two AHTEGs (Ad Hoc Groups), progress on these issues is regrettably still too little, very late and largely repetitive. These two issues are of central importance to the Protocol, and to many Parties’ implementation of biosafety.
There must be no more delay in developing further guidance and guidelines in order to assist Parties in their implementation of the Protocol. Implementation is crucial to safeguarding biological diversity, human health, and the well being of peoples everywhere. In the composition of the two extended AHTEGs, civil society demands that potential conflict of interests (including financial and other vested interests) are transparently declared and scrutinized, and that the appropriate steps are taken to avoid conflicts of interest unduly influencing decisions.
We wish to remind Parties that the work of the socio-economic AHTEG must be within the scope and objective of the Protocol, which is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection with regards to LMOs that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. The issue of the benefits of modern biotechnology is not within the scope, nor in line with the objective of this Protocol.
Cases of unintentional transboundary movement of LMOs continue unabated. This is exemplified here in Asia with the discovery of unapproved LM papaya imported into Japan and subsequently cultivated. There is urgent need for measures to prevent more cases from happening, and increased capacity to take emergency action where prevention is no longer possible. Illegal transboundary movement must be addressed.
Parties need to have the capacity to detect and identify LMOs , and LMO developers must provide the necessary information for authorities and citizens to detect and identify LMOs used both in field trials and commercially. This information must include sequence information and reference materials.
Parties can and should require this in their national biosafety laws. The Strategic Plan requires guidance on how to detect and take measures to respond to unintentional releases of LMOs to be developed.
We will meet the challenges of concurrent meetings of the COP and COP-MOPs in 2016. These organisational changes also have financial implications: the full and effective participation of developing countries, especially least developed countries, small island states and countries with economies in transition, must be ensured by providing adequate financial support.