The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that was adopted by governments on 29 January 2000 is the main international legally binding treaty that regulates ?the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology? that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health?.

It is significant as the first global treaty to attempt to contribute to the protection of biodiversity and human health in this field, and as the first treaty to operationalise the precautionary approach in decision-making relating to imports under the Protocol. As of 22 February 2005, there are 113 Parties to the Protocol.

Although the Protocol focuses on transboundary movements of GMOs, its provisions do influence national and regional biosafety policies and laws, bearing in mind that the Protocol sets minimum requirements and Parties have the right to formulate more comprehensive national laws with higher standards. This is reaffirmed in Article 2(4).

Meanwhile, work and standard setting are also taking place in other international fora, such as the Codex Alimentarius, the International Plant Protection Convention and the International Office of Epizootics, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

The linkages among trade, environment and health means that developments at the World Trade Organisation also impact on biosafety and vice versa.

A field of growing importance is the development of biological weapons as part of biodefence programmes where the adequacy of global rules and standards needs examinination.

Crucial Biodiversity Talks Begin for Post-2020 Actions

Amidst recent scientific reports highlighting the biodiversity crisis, new negotiations have begun for crucial implementation of the CBD in the period post-2020. […]

Biodiversity Convention Decides to Address Conflicts of Interest

Parties to the CBD have approved conflicts of interest procedures to limit the influence of private sector industry and other economic and vested interests from unduly influencing decisions taken to protect biological diversity. […]

Biosafety Protocol agrees important work on risk assessment of GMOs

Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety have adopted a decision that puts its important risk assessment work firmly back on track, after previous setbacks […]

Rapid Synthetic Biology Developments Necessitate “Horizon Scanning”

Parties to the CBD have concluded that the rapid and fast-paced developments in the field of synthetic biology and their potential adverse effects need to be anticipated, monitored and assessed. […]

No Release of “Gene Drives” Without Precautionary Conditions

Parties to the CBD have laid down strict and precautionary conditions for any introduction of organisms containing engineered gene drives into the environment, including for experimental purposes. […]

News Release: United Nations Hits the Brakes on Gene Drives

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have made a significant global decision on how to govern a high-risk, new genetic engineering technology – gene drives. […]

Synthetic Biology, Genome Editing and Gene Drives

One of the key topics that will be addressed by the upcoming meetings of the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is that of synthetic biology, including the issues of genome editing and engineered gene drives […]

Synthetic Biology, Genome Editing and Gene Drives

One of the key topics that will be addressed by the upcoming meetings of the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is that of synthetic biology, including the issues of genome editing and engineered gene drives […]

Gene Drive and International Governance

This report explores the urgent need for a global governance framework for gene drive, given the technology’s powerful implications for wild species and ecosystems. It identifies principles and essential elements for such a framework. […]

Discussions on sequence information unravel at Biodiversity meet

Discussions at a subsidiary meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) unravelled spectacularly on the issue of sequence information of genetic resources. […]