THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Re: The critical role of civil society in biosafety
The latest issue of ‘Biosafety Protocol News’, a magazine on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, focuses on the tenth anniversary of the coming into force of the Cartagena Protocol.
The contribution from Third World Network (TWN) underlines the need for civil society to gain access to relevant information in order to raise public awareness and promote public participation in decision-making processes regarding LMOs. It also outlines the critical role that civil society has played and continues to play in global and national biosafety discussions, as well as the challenges that remain.
With best wishes,
Civil society helps promote safety in the use of biotechnology: Third World Network
Researcher, Third World Network
From the early days of modern biotechnology, civil society has actively and consistently raised concerns about the environmental, health and socio-economic risks of genetic engineering and its products. Many non-governmental organizations, farmers’ organizations and indigenous peoples’ organizations have been active in raising public awareness. They have collaborated with scientists engaged in biosafety research by holding campaigns to increase public awareness, education and participation as well as informing policy makers.
The efforts of civil society have helped to shape international regulatory frameworks and policies regarding living modified organisms (LMOs), commonly known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Information from civil society and scientists helped to shape the discussions leading up to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, including the provision on public awareness and participation (Article 23). It also encouraged industry to actively participate in the discussions.
Notable civil society contributions include the existing international de facto moratorium on field testing or commercial use of genetic use restriction technology (GURTs). Because GURTs aim to restrict the use of genetic material and their related traits, they are seen as impinging upon the rights of farmers .
In 1999, in response to an avalanche of public opposition, two of the world’s largest seed and agrochemical corporations, Monsanto and AstraZeneca (currently Syngenta), publicly committed themselves to not commercialize “Terminator” seeds. Continued public pressure also led the former Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to publicly declare FAO’s opposition to “Terminator Technology” as a threat to food security . As a result, several countries, including India and Brazil, currently have legislation prohibiting the use of “Terminator Technology”.
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Etiquetas: en, Third World Network