Representative from governments, civil society and industry around the world today kicked off a five-day United Nations meeting in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to ensure the safe use of modified living organisms.
The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (or COP-MOP 7), is being held at the Alpensia Convention Center in Pyeongchang, and is expected to adopt decisions to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms – also known as LMOs – that may have negative effects on biodiversity.
LMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using engineering techniques. These could include microorganisms such as bacteria, insects, plants, fish and mammals. LMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and they are also used in scientific research.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. The Protocol, named after the Colombian city where the final round of its negotiations was launched, was adopted in January 2000 and entered into force in September 2003. To date, 166 countries and the European Community are party to the Protocol.
In his opening statement, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, urged countries who have not yet done so to ratify the Protocol.
“Many Parties have taken steps to establish legal, administrative and other measures to implement their obligations under the Protocol,” he said, adding that countries must keep this momentum going as the use of LMOs continues to increase.
“The continuous growth in the development and use of LMOs requires a consolidation of the biosafety measures.”
Mr. Dias stressed that at the COP-MOP 7, countries will also have the opportunity to share their experiences in the implementation of the Protocol and discuss ways to better integrate biosafety into national development plans and programmes.
“The common denominator of our presence here is the theme for the meetings of the Convention and its Protocols – Biodiversity for Sustainable Development. Your discussions over the coming week will contribute to building a strong and vibrant Biosafety Protocol, which contributes to sustainable development.”
The meeting is the first of three major biodiversity meetings being held in Pyeongchang.