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.

Plant Treaty to Address Genetic Sequence Information

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) has decided to begin serious work on the subject of sequence information of crop genetic resources. […]

Sequence Information: A Pressing Concern for the Seed Treaty

Sequence information is a topic that governments cannot afford to ignore at the 7th meeting of the Governing Body (GB) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in November 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. […]

Biosafety Protocol Stalled on Risk Assessment

Further work on biosafety risk assessment which is a key pillar under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has received a setback at the UN Biodiversity Conference […]

Biodiversity – Divergent views on progress towards resource mobilization targets

With the biodiversity financing gap remaining huge, Parties to the CBD had divergent views on whether progress has been made to meet the targets set in 2012 for mobilizing financial resources. […]

Report of Scientific Conference Taking Stock – 20 Years of GM Crops – 40 Years of ‘Genetic Engineering’

The report of the recent Scientific Conference, Taking Stock – 20 years of GM crops – 40 years of ‘genetic engineering’, which was held in Mexico City, 1-2 December 2016. […]

Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biology

Parties to the CBD have made progress in the global governance and oversight of synthetic biology. However, progress on risk assessment work under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has stalled. […]

Biodiversity Convention Adopts Plan for Benefit Sharing for Genetic Sequences

Parties to the CBD have adopted a decision on sequence information of genetic resources that sets in motion a plan intended to lead to an important decision at their next meeting in two years’ time. […]

Biodiversity Convention Considers Genetic Sequence Data and Benefit Sharing

Negotiators at the CBD meeting in Cancun, Mexico are working to resolve tough issues surrounding how to share benefits from the use of genetic sequence data from plants, animals, microbes and other biodiversity. […]

Future Work on Risk Assessment Under the Biosafety Protocol Threatened

At the meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Cancun, Mexico, the continued work on risk assessment under the Protocol is under threat. […]

160 Global Groups Call for Moratorium on New Genetic Extinction

A wide spectrum of 160 civil society organisations and networks have called for a global moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology known as “gene drives”. […]