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Participants at UN-backed meeting agree to work towards rules on biosafety

Participants at UN-backed meeting agree to work towards rules on biosafety

More than 2,000 participants attending a week-long biosafety meeting that wrapped up yesterday have agreed to work towards legally binding rules for liability and redress for potential damage caused by the movements of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports.

The participants at the fourth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, held in Bonn, Germany, and said to be the largest ever gathering on the issue, have reached a deal on both a timetable and a framework for negotiating the rules and procedures.

The contents of the legally binding instrument for liability and redress for the GMOs, also known as living modified organisms (LMOs), will now be discussed at the next meeting of the parties to the Protocol, itself a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. That meeting is scheduled to take place in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary to the Convention, welcomed the agreement, calling it “great news for the biodiversity family.”

While GMOs or LMOs have the potential to increase agricultural yields and to grow in habitats otherwise unfavourable to crops, there are also widespread concerns that they might pose major threats to local ecosystems and therefore biodiversity.