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.

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. […]

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

Over the past 25 years, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has established a system of global oversight for living (a.k.a. genetically) modified organisms (LMOs) based on the principles of precaution, fairness (equitable sharing of benefits) and prior informed consent. COP 14 and COP-MOP 9 will be key to upholding those principles and ensuring they are extended to the governance of next-generation genetic engineering technologies: i.e., synthetic biology, which increasingly encompasses genome editing and gene drive technologies. […]

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. […]

Calls for Precaution on “Gene Drives” at Biodiversity Meeting

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), at a subsidiary meeting, have called for precaution when addressing organisms containing engineered gene drives. […]

Reboot on GMO Risk Assessment Work Under Biosafety Protocol

Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, at a subsidiary meeting in Montreal, have breathed some life back into the risk assessment work that is critical to the implementation of the Protocol. […]

Informational Materials on Synthetic Biology and Sequence Information

New informational materials about the important emerging area of synthetic biology and associated topic of digital sequence information on genetic resources are now available at www.synbiogovernance.org […]

Military Revealed as Top Funder of Gene Drives; Gates Foundation Paid $1.6 million to Influence UN on Gene Drives

Over 1,200 emails released under open records requests reveal that the US military is now the top funder and influencer behind a controversial genetic extinction technology known as “gene drives”. […]