Friday, October 19, 2012

Meeting of the Parties to Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (MOP)

It has been very long since I blogged. At MABIC we were really preoccupied with many assignments; one of it is our newspaper, The Petri Dish. What made me to activate our blog was the feedback we received everywhere we went. It made us realise that we had followers and that our write ups were appreciated. I take this opportunity to thank all our readers.

I am dedicating this post to the recently concluded Meetings of the Parties to Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (MOP6). This meeting is held once every two years and this year was hosted by the Government of India in Hyderabad. MOPs discuss how GMOs/LMOs should be regulated.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) has 164 countries (Parties) that have ratified this protocol. A little tamer compared to previous MOPs as the contentious agenda items have all been deliberated and negotiated before. However, Risk Assessment and Risk Management (RA/RM) and Socioeconomic Considerations (SEC) took the limelight.

                 At the side event organised by PRRI/ISAAA/IFPRI/ICRISAT at MOP6 as a speaker

What is interesting about SEC is that only negative impacts were discussed even though there are documented positive impacts of GM crops to farmers and countries that have adopted GM crops. Poverty alleviation and reduced exposure to pesticides were hardly presented by countries that oppose GM crops. But they never fail to present imaginary negative impacts.

Another important agenda item is Article 35 of CPB that calls for assessment and review of the effectiveness of the functioning of the CPB. In my opinion, this should be the most important agenda as Parties should seriously evaluate the effectiveness of all the instruments that have been established in the past 10 years since CPB came into force. One white elephant is the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) that is hardly updated by Parties.

After attending three MOPs, I feel MOPs promote another type of tourism – Biotourism. The amount of money spent for these meetings are astronomical not to mention the associated meetings that take place in between MOPs.

Is all this fanfare necessary for a technology that has been around for 16 years without single health or environmental hazard? GM foods have undergone the biggest “clinical trial” with billions consuming it everyday.

By Mahaletchumy Arujanan

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