Developed countries have accumulated experiences in regulating biotechnology, including gene technology, ranging from voluntary to legally binding measures; from sectoral to holistic approaches.

The challenge for developing countries and countries with economies in transition is to build on existing experiences, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and taking into full account the growing body, and gaps, in scientific and socio-economic knowledge of biosafety and biotechnology.

A holistic and comprehensive regulatory approach to ensure biosafety would be based on the precautionary principle, covering the entire range of activities from research and development of GMOs to their commercialization, and post-release monitoring.

Sound science draws a clear line between ?containment? and ?release? so that an activity whereby a GMO or parts thereof comes into contact with the environment will be classified as a release. Regulations and measures for release will then apply.

Information disclosure to the public generates feedback, including scientific and technical inputs from independent scientists and researchers in the field of biosafety, which is crucial for sound regulation.

There are ongoing discussions in many countries and at the regional and international level on the scope of information that should be disclosed to the public. Technology developers and private biotechnology companies are claiming broader protection of data, beyond that of traditional trade secrets and confidential business information. The provision of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for claims to ?confidential information?, if inappropriately implemented, can deprive the public of necessary information to ensure biosafety.

National regulations will thus need to ensure information disclosure, from both the private and public sector technology developers.

Swiss Ethics Committee Defends Precautionary Principle in Regulating New Biotechnologies

A report by the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology shows that the precautionary principle and the precautionary measures to which it gives rise can be justified ethically with respect to regulating new biotechnologies. […]

Prior Societal Assessment of New GM Technologies

This journal article argues for a process of precautionary and prior societal assessment to be established as the norm for all major new GM technologies, as they have the potential to substantially impact human life and life on Earth. […]

Joint-checklist and Summary of Tools and Resources on Access to Information, Public Awareness, Education and Public Participation

The secretariats of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Aarhus Convention have jointly developed two documents relevant to access to information, public awareness, education and public participation in the context of GMOs. […]

The Precautionary Principle Should Be Interpreted Critically and Preemptively

This paper, written by the Lead Petitioner in the Public Interest Writ filed in India’s Supreme Court, argues that the Precautionary Principle must be interpreted critically and pre-emptively for its proper application to the unique risks of GM crops. […]

Monitoring of GMOs Released into the Environment

GMO monitoring aims at detecting the occurrence of changes that could lead to adverse effects. This report proposes a framework for monitoring that includes case-specific monitoring and general surveillance. […]

GM Contamination Register Logs 396 Incidents over 17 Years

An analysis report on 17 years of data recorded in the GM Contamination Register concludes that GM contamination can occur independently of commercialisation and that detection regimes are inadequate and methodologies, inconsistent. […]

South Africa’s Inequitable and GM Contaminated Bread Industry

This report shows that white bread in South Africa contains high levels of Monsanto’s GM soya and that most companies there are flouting GM labelling laws and undermining the consumer’s right to know. […]

The Critical Role of Civil Society in Biosafety

This TWN article for Biosafety Protocol News outlines the critical role that civil society has played and continues to play in global and national biosafety discussions, as well as the challenges that remain. […]

Confidential Business Information Contrary to Biosafety

A recent article published in PLOS Biology Journal examines the problems with the current practices and the indiscriminate uses of confidential business information (CBI) claims in biosafety assessments. […]

Antibiotic Resistance Genes from the Lab Contaminate Chinese Rivers

Scientists have published a paper providing evidence that antibiotic resistance genes rom the lab have reached the environment in China. […]