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Global Agreements and Fora  
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.
 
 
»  Capacity Building and the Biosafety Protocol: A TWN report
»  The Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and the WTO agreements
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