Liability: What to do when Risk turns into Damage?

Liability: What to do when Risk turns into Damage?

Although the biotech industry is quick to assure the public that there are no problems with the production, transportation, and use of GMOs, this argument is not supported by much evidence:

  • at least 217 incidents of damage (reduction in the economic value of crops or harm to biodiversity and the environment) have been documented over the past 10 years, with the majority of them occurring in the last three;
  • by and large, the insurance industry refuses to insure GMO activities; 
  • the biotech industry rejects rules of  "strict liability“ which is inconsistent with a belief that GMOs present no danger; 
  • and two major international legal regimes have acted on the basis that GMOs are significantly different from conventional varieties of organisms and present unusual risks-the UN’s Codex Alimentarius (a joint agency between the U.N.’s World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization) comprised of about 170 countries and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, under the UN’s Convention of Biological Diversity, with about 145 member nations.

Article 27 of the Cartagena Protocal on Liability and Redress was one of the final grand compromises leading to the end of negotiations of the Biosafety Protocol in Montreal in 2000.

Not many NGOs monitor the process as it seems to be very far fetched, technical and complex. The author of this publication, Phil Bereano (Washington University, Seattle, USA) followed the negotiations for some years. With this publication he tries to shed some light on the process and the course of the negotiations.




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