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FAO GM Foods Platform: WEBINAR in E-Newsletter January 2015 issue

January 2015

E-Newsletter for the Platform community http://fao.org/gm-platform/

Happy New Year!

The FAO GM Foods Platform team would like to wish you the very best for 2015. We trust the Platform will continue to grow with more new information. Visit your country page today — we have created a short URL for you to bookmark: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM- LOGIN

Platform status

We welcomed Micronesia to our community this month. Also three countries (Luxembourg, Zambia and Laos) successfully registered to the Platform. Welcome on board! Also, we are happy to inform you that the country profiles of Tanzania (link: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-TZA). Myanmar (link: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-MMR ) and Indonesia (link: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-IDN) have been updated. We now have a total of 157 countries that nominated a Focal Point and 151 countries that registered to the Platform. Among them, 91 countries have completed their country profile pages. Now we are hosting 509 records on the Platform.

Now available: Videos and report of the Webinar on the International Databases on Biosafety

The two sessions of the webinar held on the 12th of November 2014 have been recorded and made available online. The recordings are available in approximately 20 minutes each. A report of the webinar is now available that includes an overview on the discussions held during the webinar and provides a list of all attended and registered participants. All the questions posted during the webinar have been addressed in the report. We strongly encourage you to take a look at the draft report (link: http://tiny.cc/Webinar-Report-Nov2014 ) as you will see all relevant information as well as the list of participants/registered people so that you can easily identify your national colleagues working in the same field.

Presentations

o FAO GM Foods Platform:           http://youtu.be/3YFnq44hSSA

o UNEP Biosafety Clearing House: http://youtu.be/qFl UOqtuCA o OECD BioTrack Database: http://youtu.be/OHuedUEVGXY

Question and Answers

o Session 1: http://voutu■be/vHDadZcovSO o Session 2: http://youtu.be/RaAfR6i7Gls

Discussion Topic 1: What are areas within biosafety where further synergy can be achieved among the organizations? o Session 1: http://youtu.be/kwBlHLlq8ko o Session 2: http://youtu.be/0DDQch8z6sA

Discussion Topic 2: How does communication among different national users of the databases takes place? o Session 1: http://youtu.be/FPSR9X6-iq8 o Session 2: http://youtu.be/4j rqQcQOKg

Discussion Topic 3: What are the practical challenges in the use of the databases? o Session 1: http://youtu.be/QK2mNoq2zo4 o Session 2: http://youtu.be/rg5M 8Cpiws

Information about stacked events

During the webinar, several participants asked how stacked events are managed on the FAO GM Foods Platform. “Stacked event” generally indicates a plant variety that contains multiple transformation events (please note: there is no official internationally harmonized definition for this terminology). The OECD Unique Identifier system combines the relevant Unique Identifiers of the events that composed the stacked event. For example, the stacked event rACS-BN004-7xACS-BN001-4′ consists of two individual events of ‘ACS-BN004’ and 7xACS-BN001-4’.

Various regulatory approaches exist to categorize and/or manage stacked events at national level. On the FAO GM Foods Platform, there is a text field available on the country profile page so that the focal points can explain their own situation and relevant regulatory issues around stacked events. Followings are the examples of countries that elaborated on their specific national regulatory approach on stacked events.

  • Philippines: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-PHL
  • Brazil: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-BRA
  • Canada: http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-CANAll editions of the Newsletter issued in 2014 are now archived and made available online. Our Newsletters have been addressing a wide range of topics including the practical guide in using the FAO GM Platform and the related events organized. To see the archives, please visit: http://tinv.cc/FAO-GM-ARCHIVE2014For this month, FAO selects the Colombia and introduces its “Country Profile” (http://tiny.cc/FAO-GM-COL ). The selection is done at random and there is no criterion for the selection. We strongly encourage all of you to start filling out the Country Profile section of the Platform. You never know when your country will be selected!
  • competent authority for GMO that are exclusively used in health and food purposes. The same Decree creates the National Biosafety Technical Committee for GMO’s used in health and food purposes. The Committee is compose by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, or its delegate, the Director of the National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute — INVIMA, or its delegate, and the Director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Administrative Department — COLCIENCIAS, or its delegate. This committee is responsible for the risk assessment of the dossier submitted by the applicant; to require any additional information; assessment of any measurements in accordance to the Cartagena Protocol in order to avoid, prevent, mitigate correct and/or compensate de possible risks of effects that may occur; the recommendation to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection the administrative act for the authorization of the GMO for health or food purposes.”
  • Country Profile Highlight vol. 9: Colombia
  • Now available: 2014 newsletter archive

Question of the Month: I am leaving my post soon and therefore I cannot fulfil the tasks of the Focal Point to the FAO GM Foods Platform anymore. How can I ensure the transition to my successor proceeds smoothly?

If you are moving from your current job position (or retiring), and will not be able to perform he tasks as a Focal Point of the Platform, please assure that a new Focal Point is nominated before your move. Your step is very easy — you just need to inform your national Codex Contact Point of your move, then the National Codex Contact Point should contact us at GM-Platform@fao.org so that the process for re-nomination can start.

Questions? Comments?

We are always happy to receive any questions, comments and/or suggestions to improve the Platform. Feel free to contact us at GM-Platform@fao.org.

If you do not wish to receive this monthly newsletter, contact GM-Platform@fao.org. You are receiving this e-mail because you are the official Focal Point or Alternate Focal Point nominated by your respective Government for the FAO GM Foods Platform (http: //fao.org/gm-platform). General FAO terms, conditions and disclaimers apply

(http://www.fao.org/contact-us/terms/).

Smallholder farmers are key to sustainable management of the world’s natural resources

Smallholder farmers are key to sustainable management of the world’s natural resources

Convention on Biological Diversity joins the world community in celebrating World Food Day

16 October, 2014, Pyeongchang — Smallholder farmers throughout the world play a key role in maintaining natural resources through the use of sustainable practices, and can significantly contribute the conservation of biodiversity, the Convention on Biological Diversity stressed today, in a joint press conference with FAO, held in the margins of COP-12 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on the occasion of the World Food Day 2014.

The theme for this year, Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the Earth, seeks to raise the profile of the more than 500 million family farms, which produce about 80 percent of the world’s food and are crucial to ensure global food security.

«These 500 million families of farmers should be considered key players in the management of the world’s biodiversity — they are the largest group of biodiversity managers. Achieving the Aichi biodiversity targets relevant to agriculture will require their efforts,» said Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division.

Achieving food security is intrinsically linked to the conservation of biodiversity. Family farms use a vast array of plant varieties and animal breeds in the most diverse and challenging environmental conditions. By using these breeds and varieties, family farmers conserve a broad genetic diversity. These genetic resources are indispensable for breeding new varieties and breeds and allow people to cope with present and future environmental and social changes.

Towards achieving Aichi biodiversity targets

Family farmers also possess unique knowledge and understanding of the local ecology and land capacity, which allows them to manage diverse landscapes. Their sustainable management of land and fisheries makes family farmers important contributors to the achievement of sustainable development and the global biodiversity goals known as the Aichi Targets.

The 20 targets, which are due in 2020, include having all fish stocks managed and harvested sustainably, as well as areas under agriculture and forestry. They also aim to halve the rate of loss of all natural habitats and significantly reducing degradation and fragmentation. Through practices like

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity United Nations Environment Programme

413 Saint-Jacques Street, Suite 800, Montreal, QC, H2Y 1 N9, Canada Tel : +1 514 288 2220   Fax : +1 514 288 6588

secretariat@cbd.int  www.cbd.int
crop rotation and using alternatives to chemical pesticides, family farmers prevent soil erosion and degradation of ecosystems.

Sustainable farming practices also increase the resilience of ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

«Supporting the work of family farmers throughout the world would contribute substantially to eradicating poverty and to reaching global food security. These important stakeholders also have a role in implementing many of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, such as contributing to developing and implementing sustainable agriculture, forestry and aquaculture practices, maintaining genetic resources for food and agriculture, to reduce the loss of natural habitats and others» said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Notes for Editors

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 194 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing are supplementary agreements to the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 167 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and has been ratified by 54 countries to date.For more information visit: www.cbd.int.

For more information please contact David Ainsworth, Information Officer, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity at +82 (0)10 2149 0526 (until 17 October 2014) or at david.ainsworth@cbd.int

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that was established on 16th October 1945. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts — to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. FAO’s three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

FAO has many intergovernmental processes and fora, one of them is the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture with its 178 member countries where global consensus can be reached on sectoral and cross-sectoral policies relevant to biodiversity for food and agriculture. Its main objectives are to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use, for present and future generations. The Commission oversees and guides the preparation of periodic global assessments, such as the Report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources launched in June 2014, as well as negotiates global action plans, codes of conduct and other instruments.

For more information visit: www.fao.org.

For more information please contact Irina Utkina, Media relations, FAO, at +39 06 570 52542 or at irina.utkina@fao.org

FAO GM Foods Platform: E-Newsletter September 2014 issue

September 2014

E-Newsletter for the Platform community http://fao .org/gm -platform /

Welcome — this month’s Platform status

We welcomed two new countries (Honduras and Malta) to our community this month. Furthermore, one country (Cameroon) uploaded country profile information. Currently we have a total of 154 countries nominated the Focal Points and 145 countries registered to the Platform. Now we are hosting 401 records on the Platform. Currently 84 countries filled out their country profiles. We strongly call on all registered members who haven’t done this, to complete the country profile as soon as possible.

A Milestone — the 400th Record Uploaded.

We are happy to announce that recently the 400th record has been uploaded on the Platform. We would like to thank all countries that took the effort to upload information on the Platform so-far. These efforts make the Platform an increasingly more comprehensive source of information on the risk assessment of GM Foods. Our special thanks go to the Focal Points of Mexico and China who recently started uploading records and hence made it possible to achieve this milestone. We encourage all Focal Points to start and continue uploading relevant information on the FAO GM Foods Platform.

Who’s records can you find on the Platform?

The 401 records that are available on the Platform are uploaded by 14 different countries from different regional origins. Currently more than 50 records with information are available from Australia, Canada, the Philippines and the USA. Furthermore, information has been uploaded by Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, China, the EU, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Uruguay. We would like to thank all contributors who have been active in sharing their information.

FAO/UNEP-CBD/OECD Biosafety Webinar: Date changed to 12 November 2014!

In order to facilitate the exchange of information on biosafety, there are several initiatives at the global level that provide access to a variety of scientific and other relevant information. FAO, UNEP-CBD and OECD closely collaborate together to enhance the effort in creating complementing information systems. Differences exist in the number of Member States and the scope of the data/information hosted (food and feed safety, environmental risk assessment and/or decisions on commercialization). On the 12st November 2014, we will organize a Webinar that will provide an overview on the tools and information resources available on the FAO GM Foods Platform, the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) maintained by UNEP-CBD and the Biotrack database of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Webinar will be interactive, allowing participants to ask questions and engage in discussions. A certificate will be awarded to the successful participants. More information will follow in due course. Should you have any questions, contact us at gm-platform@fao.org

Country Profile Highlight vol. 7: Philippines

For this month, FAO selects the Philippines and introduces its “Country Profile”. The selection is done at random and there is no criterion for the selection. We strongly encourage all of you to start filling out the Country Profile section of the Platform. You never know when your country will be selected!

Country Profile of Philippines: ‘The Philippines is the first ASEAN country to establish a modern regulatory system for modern biotechnology. The country’s biosafety regulatory system follows strict scientific standards and has become a model for member-countries of the ASEAN seeking to become producers of agricultural biotechnology crops. Concerns on biosafety in the Philippines started as early as 1987 when scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Quarantine Officer of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Director for Crops of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) recognized the potential for harm of the introduction of exotic species and genetic engineering. The joint committee formed the biosafety protocols and guidelines for genetic engineering and related research activities for UPLB and IRRI researchers. This proposal was eventually adapted into a Philippine Biosafety policy by virtue of Executive Order No 430, Series of 1990, issued by then President Corazon C. Aquino on October 15, 1990, which created the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP).

The NCBP formulates, reviews and amends national policy on biosafety and formulates guidelines on the conduct of activities on genetic engineering. The NCBP comprised of representative from the Department of Agriculture (DA); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Health (DOH); and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), 4 scientists in biology, environmental science, social science and physical science and 2 respected members of the community. The Philippines’ Law, Executive Order No.514 (EO514), Series of 2006 entitled “Establishing the National Biosafety Framework (NBF), Prescribing Guidelines for its Implementation, Strengthening the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, and for Other Purposes was also issued. This order sets the establishment of the departmental biosafety committees in the DA, DENR, DOH and DOST. The mandates jurisdiction and other powers of all departments and agencies in relation to biosafety and biotechnology is guided by the NBF in coordination with the NCBP and each other in exercising its power.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) issued Administrative Order No 8, Series of 2002, (DA AO8, 2002), which is part of EO 514, for the implementation of guidelines for the importation and release into the environment of plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology. The DA authorizes the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as the lead agency responsible for the regulation of agricultural crops developed through modern biotechnology. The BPI has adopted a protocol for risk assessment of GM crops for food and feed or for processing based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA plants and a protocol for environmental risk assessment in accordance with the Cartagena Protocol on

Biosafety and with the recommendation of the Panel of Experts of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). DA AO8, 2002 ensures that only genetically food crops that have been well studied and found safe by parallel independent assessments by a team of Filipino scientists and technical personnel from the concerned regulatory agencies of the Department are allowed into our food supply and into our environment. The DA AO 8, 2002 has a step by step introduction of GM plant into the environment. The research and development phase would require testing the genetically modified (GM) crop under controlled conditions subject to regulation by the government agencies. The first stage of evaluation for GM crops is testing under contained facilities such as laboratories, greenhouses and screenhouses. After satisfactory completion of testing under contained facilities, confined environmental release or field trial is done. Confined field trial (CFT) is the first controlled introduction of the GM crop into the environment. The approval for field trial shall be based on the satisfactory completion of safety testing under contained conditions. Unconfined environmental release or commercialization of the product would follow after the safe conduct of the CFT. Approval for propagation shall only be allowed after field trials and risk assessment show no significant risk to human and animal health and the environment.’

Question of the Month: I am searching for specific information, how can I obtain this?

We noticed that in the Platform community many knowledge and expertise is available that go beyond the information uploaded in the records. We encourage knowledge sharing among Focal Points and therefore we would like to stress the possibility to contact other countries directly for information exchange. In the Country Profile page of each member the contact details of the Focal Points are noted. This can help you to get in touch with the appropriate counterpart to obtain specific information!

Questions? Comments?

We are always happy to receive any questions, comments and/or suggestions to improve the Platform. Feel free to contact us at GM-Platform@fao.org!

FAO GM Foods Platform: E-Newsletter for the Platform community

E-Newsletter for the Platform community http://www.fao.org/gm-platform

Platform status

We welcomed six new countries (Angola, Cameroon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Niger and Romania) to our community this month. Also five countries (Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritius and Romania) successfully registered to the Platform. Welcome on board! In addition, five countries (Cote d’Ivoire, India, Mexico, Peru and Turkey) newly filled out their country profiles. Currently we have a total of 147 countries nominated the Focal Points and 139 countries registered to the Platform. Now we are hosting 369 records on the Platform.

The Codex Side Event
As mentioned in our previous newsletters, FAO will convene a side event on the FAO GM Foods Platform at the occasion of the 37th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. All official delegations, Codex Members and Observers to the Commission are cordially invited to attend the side event, which will be held on Monday, 14 July, 2014, at 13:00 — 15:00 in Room 4 at the Centre International de Conferences Geneva (CICG). For more information, please refer to “the question of this month” below.

FAO would like to provide all the Focal Points to the FAO GM Foods Platform with small cards, therefore we will hand them out to the Codex Contact Points who will be attending the side event. FAO will ask them to provide the cards to the Focal Points. You can personalize the card with your name and your country. The card also has a QR-Code which contains the URL to the GM Foods Platform. Moreover, the card identifies you as a member of the GM Foods Platform community and you can also use it to promote the Platform. If you are a Focal Point who will not be attending the side event, please contact your country’s Codex Contact Point to receive your copies after the 37th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission which ends on the 18th of July 2014.

Linking the GM Platform website to respective national webpages

According to the original request from Codex, FAO is promoting this Platform to develop it as the most useful global database on the topic of GM foods and its safety assessment. Each country’s contribution makes a difference and contributes to this progress. If your country has any national/governmental websites/webpages on this topic, please consider linking this Platform from your national websites/webpages. FAO will also “link back» to your country’s website from the «resources» page of our database (http://www.fao.org/food/food-safety-quality/gm-foods- platform/resources/en/#st).

Country profile highlight vol. 3: Malaysia

For this month, FAO selects Malaysia and introduces its “Country Profile”. The selection is done at random and there is no criterion for the selection. We strongly encourage all of you to start filling out the Country Profile section of the Platform. You never know when your country will be selected!

Country Profile of Malaysia: “GM food safety assessment is a requirement by law under the Biosafety Act 2007 in Malaysia. The National Biosafety Board reviews and makes decisions on events based on a scientific/technical risk assessment, policy considerations as well as public input. The decisions and its related documents made are publicly available through the Malaysian Department of Biosafety Website and the Convention of Biological Diversity Biosafety Clearing House.”

A question of the month: How can I participate in the FAO GM Foods Platform side event in Geneva?

The 37th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is open for the Codex members and observers. An Online Registration System (ORS) to register participants to Codex meetings is available on the Codex website. Registration of delegates is only open to those with access to the official email registered as Codex Contact Points. Please liaise your national Codex Contact Points if you are interested in attending the Commission and its side events. FAO will not be responsible for arranging your participation. If you have any problem with the ORS system, please contact codex@fao.org.

Questions? Comments?

We are always happy to receive any questions, comments and/or suggestions to improve the Platform. Feel free to contact us at gm-platform@fao.org!

 

Characteristics and Safety Assessment of Intractable Proteins

NEW PAPER PUBLISHED

ILSI is pleased to share that the paper entitled «Characteristics and Safety Assessment of Intractable Proteins in Genetically Modified Crops» has been published in the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology Journal.

Abstract: Genetically modified (GM) crops may contain newly expressed proteins that are described as «intractable». Safety assessment of these proteins may require some adaptations to the current assessment procedures. Intractable proteins are defined here as those proteins with properties that make it extremely difficult or impossible with current methods to express in heterologous systems; isolate, purify, or concentrate; quantify (due to low levels); demonstrate biological activity; or prove equivalency with plant proteins. Five classes of intractable proteins are discussed here: (1) membrane proteins, (2) signaling proteins, (3) transcription factors, (4) N-glycosylated proteins, and (5) resistance proteins (R-proteins, plant pathogen recognition proteins that activate innate immune responses). While the basic tiered weight-of-evidence approach for assessing the safety of GM crops proposed by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) in 2008 is applicable to intractable proteins, new or modified methods may be required. For example, the first two steps in Tier I (hazard identification) analysis, gathering of applicable history of safe use (HOSU) information and bioinformatics analysis, do not require protein isolation. The extremely low level of expression of most intractable proteins should be taken into account while assessing safety of the intractable protein in GM crops. If Tier II (hazard characterization) analyses requiring animal feeding are judged to be necessary, alternatives to feeding high doses of pure protein may be needed. These alternatives are discussed in this paper.

Visit the ILSI website to view additional publications and resources available.

Libby Muldoon

Communications and Program Specialist

Center for Environmental Risk Assessment

ILSI Research Foundation

1156 Fifteenth Street N.W., Suite 200

Washington, D.C. 20005-1743

Tel. +1 (202) 659-3306 x 170

Fax. +1 (202) 659-3617

URL: www.cera-gmc.org

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Legal Aspects of Implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger Frederic Perron-Welch Christine Frison

About the Book

This book, the first in a new series that focuses on treaty implemen­tation for sustainable development, examines key legal aspects of implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the UN Con­vention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at national and international levels. The volume provides a serious contribution to the current le­gal and political academic debates on biosafety by discussing key issues under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that affect the further design of national and international law on biosafety, and analyzing recent progress in the development of domestic regulatory regimes for biosafety. It also examines the legal, political, economic, and practical challenges and solutions encountered in recent efforts to develop and implement domestic biosafety regulations, with a fo­cus on developing countries. In the year of the fifth UN Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, at the signature of a new Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Protocol on Liability and Redress, this timely book examines recent developments in biosafety law and policy.

Key Features

  • Defines the key issues in sustainable development law on biosafety
  • Analyzes the key international mechanisms of the Cartagena Protocol
  • Examines the practical, legal, political and economic challenges and solutions encountered in the development and implementation of biosafety regulatory regimes in several countries from different regions of the world

Contents

Part I. Essentials of Biosafety and Sustainable Development Law: 1. Bio­safety, the Cartagena Protocol, and sustainable development Kathryn Gar- forth, Worku Damena Yifru and Mai Fujii; 2. Implementing sustainable development through national biosafety frameworks Christine Frison, Syl- vestre-Jose-Tidiane Manga and Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger; 3. Crafting national biosafety regulatory systems Gregory Jaffe; Part II. Sustainable Development Law and Policy on Biosafety: 4. Risk assessment and risk management Ryan Hill; 5. The decision-making procedures of the protocol Worku Damena Yifru, Mai Fujii and Kathryn Garforth; 6. Handling, trans­port, packaging and information Thomas Redick; 7. The question of public participation Christine Toczeck Skarlatakis and Julian Kinderlerer; 8. The biosafety clearing-house and sustainable development law Frederic Perron- Welch; 9. Use of the biosafety clearing house in practice Tomme Rosanne Young; 10. Socio-economics, biosafety and sustainable development Fred­eric Perron-Welch; 11. The compliance mechanism: development, adop­tion, content and first years of life Veit Koester; 12. Biosafety, liability and sustainable development Frederic Perron-Welch and Olivier Rukundo; Part III. National Implementation of Biosafety Regulatory Aspects: 13. Legisla­tive options for national implementation Tomme Rosanne Young; 14. Na­tional biosafety regulatory systems in Central and Eastern Europe David Duthie and Liina Eek; 15. Implementing the Cartagena Protocol in West Africa: national and regional activities Gregory Jaffe and Papa Meissa Di- eng; 16. Comparative analysis of the national biosafety regulatory systems in East Africa Gregory Jaffe; 17. The national biosafety regulatory systems in Asian and Near East countries Nizar Mohamed; 18. The regulatory and institutional biosafety systems in the Americas Jorge Cabrera Medaglia; 19. National experiences with legislative implementation of the protocol Tom- me Rosanne Young; 20. The Costa Rican legal framework on agricultural genetically modified organisms Jorge Cabrera Medaglia; 21. Innovations in biosafety law in New Zealand Frederic Perron-Welch; 22. Liability and redress in Canadian case law: Hoffman v. Monsanto Canada Inc. Kath­ryn Garforth and Paige Ainslie; 23. The use of GMOs in Chile and the protection of indigenous culture Konstantia Koutouki and Paula Honorato Marin; Part V. Global Policy Trends in Biosafety: 24. Sustainable develop­ment, biosafety and international law Frederic Perron-Welch, Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, Christine Frison and Jorge Cabrera Medaglia; 25. Trade and investment implications of implementing the Cartagena Protocol Ma- rie-Claire Cordonier Segger and Markus Gehring; 26. The Cartagena Pro­tocol and the regulation of genetically modified food aid Martin Endicot.

В Польше узаконили ГМО

Президент Польши Бронислав Коморовский подписал закон, разрешающий регистрацию и оборот семян ГМО

Принятый парламентом закон «О семеноводстве» позволит привести в соответствие законодательство Польши с требованиями Европейского союза.

В новой редакции закона, посвященного урегулированию вопросов выращивания и введения в обращение посевных материалов (в т.ч. региональных и любительских сортов), два положения касаются генетически модифицированных организмов (ГМО): одно допускает регистрацию семян ГМО, второе легализует оборот таких семян на территории страны.

До сих пор в Польше были запрещены регистрация и оборот семян ГМО. Однако, как утверждают эксперты, это не гарантировало полного страхования сельского хозяйства страны от его использования, поскольку сельхозпроизводители могли закупить такие семена в соседних странах и бесконтрольно использовать их в своих угодьях.

Новый же закон дает основания для осуществления контроля за посевами, устанавливает наказание за нарушение нормативно-правовых актов, в частности, предусматривает возможность ликвидации такой культуры за счет сельскохозяйственного производителя-нарушителя.

Между тем, подписывая закон, глава государства обратился в Совет министров с просьбой о подготовке комплексного урегулирования вопроса ГМО в одном цельном законе, разработка и принятие которого должны сопровождаться широкими консультациями в экспертных кругах и общественными слушаниями.

По материалам интернет-ресурсов

INPUT FOR ONLINE MODERN TECHNIQUES

The Aarhus Convention secretariat has developed a Clearinghouse mechanism (http://aarhusclearinghouse.unece.org/) for sharing information and good practices on the three pillars of the Convention, namely access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters including regarding GMOs.

The Clearinghouse provides useful links to information, news and resources on all three pillars as well as to a jurisprudence database regarding cases brought before the Courts making reference to the provisions of the Convention.

The Aarhus Convention secretariat is currently in the process of preparing an online tool for good practices on public participation covering inter alia GMO-related initiatives. Interested organisations, countries and other stakeholders are invited to check the Aarhus Convention page regularly for up-to-date information (http://www.unece.org/env/pp/welcome.html).

Call for precautionary approach to synthetic biology, 09 April 2014

Dear Friends and Colleagues

 

The 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2012 adopted Decision XI/11 on “New and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity”, which included sections on synthetic biology.
The COP recognized“the development of technologies associated with synthetic life, cells or genomes, and the scientific uncertainties of their potential impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity”, and urged Parties and invited other Governments “to take a precautionary approach, in accordance with the preamble of the Convention and with Article 14, when addressing threats of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity posed by organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology…”
The COP also noted, “based on the precautionary approach, the need to consider the potential positive and negative impacts of components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity”.
It called for additional relevant information to be provided, synthesized and analysed, for the consideration of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). SBSTTA 18 will meet in June 2014 in Montreal, Canada and one of the key agenda items will be on synthetic biology.
The briefing below, produced by ETC Group, highlights the issues raised by synthetic biology, including new biosafety threats and the current lack of oversight or governance. ETC Group supports the precautionary approach and recommends that CBD Parties establish a moratorium on the environmental and commercial release of Synthetically Modified Organisms (SMOs) and assess their livelihood implications.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twnet@po.jaring.my
Website: http://www.biosafety-info.net/ and http://www.twn.my/

 

TOWARD SBSTTA 18 – FOCUS ON SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

Key points:
* Synthetic Biology is a multibillion-dollar industry that aims to ‘programme’ living organisms to create ‘synthetically modified organisms’ (SMOs) for the production of foods, fuels and chemicals.[i]
* The release and use of SMOs introduce new direct and indirect risks to biodiversity and human health.
* SMO-derived products may threaten the livelihoods of millions of tropical farmers by displacing natural commodities, including coconut oil, cocoa butter, vanilla, saffron, stevia, rubber, patchouli and vetiver.
* Synthetic Biology provides the means to carry out ‘digital biopiracy’ that evades the Cartagena Protocol.
* SBSTTA 18 must relay clear advice on how to prevent harmful environmental and commercial releases of SMOs.
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Box: Definition of Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is the applied design and synthesis of new biologically-based parts, devices, and systems at the organismal, cellular or sub cellular level as well as the de novo synthesis or re-design of existing, natural biological systems or genomes. The field is characterized by use of synthesized DNA and other synthetic genetic components and also by the use of engineering-based approaches to construction of living organisms. (ie. Synthetically Modified Organisms).
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The synthetic biology industry is already partnering with the world’s largest grain, chemical and oil companies to release products into consumer and other markets. The industry forecasts sales of almost US$11 billion by 2016.

Synthetic Biology at SBSTTA 18:
Synthetic Biology will be discussed under the New and Emerging Issues agenda item (item x). Parties will issue advice on a programme of work based on consideration of two reviews prepared by the CBD Secretariat (see http://www.cbd.in/emerging). The CBD is the first multilateral body to address the topic of Synthetic Biology and has urged governments to take a precautionary approach.
Box/Pullquote: “Recognizing the development of technologies associated with synthetic life, cells or genomes, and the scientific uncertainties of their potential impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, urges Parties and invites other Governments to take a precautionary approach, in accordance with the preamble of the Convention and with Article 14, when addressing threats of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity posed by organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology, in accordance with domestic legislation and other relevant international obligations;” CBD Decision XI/11(4)

Seven Issues Raised by Synthetic Biology:
1) New Biosafety Threats: Synthetic Biology creates highly novel, living artificial organisms that may persist and reproduce in nature. There exists no guidance on how to assess and manage SMOs for biosafety risks. Synthetic Biology companies now produce hundreds of thousands of different novel SMO strains per day raising serious questions about monitoring, recall and liability.
2) Threats to Livelihoods and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: Companies are now bringing to market synthetic versions of natural plant compounds – including vanilla, stevia, coconut oil, cocoa butter, patchouli, rubber, vetiver and saffron. If these substances compete with botanical products grown by tropical farmers, they could destabilize markets, destroy rural livelihoods and impact sustainable use of biodiversity.
3) Agronomic Changes: The Synthetic Biology industry hopes to brew large quantities of commercial fuels, chemicals and other high-value compounds in vats of SMOs that require sugar as a feedstock. Sourcing enough sugar would drive extensive land-use changes and increased use of water, agrochemicals and fertilizer.
4) Digital Biopiracy: Synthetic Biology makes it possible to move genetic resources across borders as digital information. Agreements such as the Nagoya Protocol that govern ‘material transfer’ of genetic resources may become ineffective.
5) Bioweapons and Health Concerns: Synthetic Biology allows for the construction of viruses and bacteria that could be infectious or otherwise harmful to humans and/or animals – either purposefully or by mistake.
6) Lack of Oversight or Governance: Existing regulations to govern genetic engineering were framed before the emergence of Synthetic Biology techniques and are inadequate to provide safe and just oversight.
7) Danger of False Solutions: Speculative proposals to use Synthetic Biology techniques toward environmentally and socially beneficial goals (such as reviving extinct animals) should be assessed with a critical eye.

Recommendations:
ETC Group supports the precautionary approach adopted by COP11 and recommends that Parties at COP12 establish a moratorium on the environmental and commercial release of Synthetically Modified Organisms (SMOs) and assess livelihood implications.
For further information see http://www.etcgroup.org/issues/synthetic-biology.
Contact etc@etcgroup.org +1 613 2412267
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[i] The CBD Secretariat uses the term Synthetically Modified Organisms to refer to the products of Synthetic Biology in its Draft Document for Review entitled New and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity – potential positive and negative impacts of components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Food science expert: Genetically modified crops are overregulated

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — It has been almost 20 years since the first genetically modified foods showed up in produce aisles throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but controversy continues to surround the products and their regulation.

Bruce Chassy

Bruce Chassy

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Bruce Chassy, a professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believes that after thousands of research studies and worldwide planting, «genetically modified foods pose no special risks to consumers or the environment» and are overregulated.

Chassy elaborated on this conclusion at the 2013 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Feb. 17. During his talk, «Regulating the Safety of Foods and Feeds Derived From Genetically Modified Crops,» Chassy shared his view that the overregulation of GM crops actually hurts the environment, reduces global health and burdens the consumer.

Farmers have witnessed the advantages of GM crops firsthand through increases in their yields and profit, and decreases in their labor, energy consumption, pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions, Chassy said.

Despite these benefits, various regulatory agencies require newly developed GM crops to be put to the test with rigorous safety evaluations that include molecular characterization, toxicological evaluation, allergenicity assessments, compositional analysis and feeding studies. This extensive testing takes five to 10 years and costs tens of millions of dollars, and Chassy argues that this process «wastes resources and diverts attention from real food safety issues.»

«With more than half of the world’s population now living in countries that have adopted GM crops, it might be appropriate to reduce the regulatory scrutiny of GM crops to a level that is commensurate with science-based risk assessment,» Chassy said.

During his talk, Chassy chronicled the scientific tests used in pre-market safety assessments of GM foods and elaborated on the evidence from thousands of research studies and expansive GM plantings that he says show these crops do not present risks to consumers or the environment. The overregulation of GM foods is a response not to scientific evidence, Chassy said, but to a global campaign that disseminates misinformation and fear about these food sources.