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Cartagena Protocol

INTRODUCTIONThe Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international treaty that seeks to protect biological diversity from the risks posed by living modified organisms (LMOs), also often referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are a product of modern biotechnology.

The Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It assists developing countries in building their capacity for managing modern biotechnology along with imporing LMOs.

Purpose of the Biosafety Protocol

Contribute to ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation & sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health

* In accordance with the precautionary approach* Focuses specifically on trans-boundary movements


HISTORYThe cartagena protocol on biosafety was drafted by a research group in Columbia. they worked on it from July 1996 to February was voted on during a convention of biological diversity in Montreal on January 29, 2000. But pepole felt that it needed at least 50 countries using the protocol for it to be taken seriously which they got in September 11, 2003 and now has 166 using it

FEATURESThe Protocols main mechanism is its Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) requirement. It is a procedure that must be followed before the first intentional transboundary movement of an LMO into the environment of the importing country and basiclly protects the importing country.

Definition of LMO

A living modified organism (LMO) is any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

Also frequently referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Categories of LMOsLMOs for intentional introduction into the environment (e.g. seeds, live fish)LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (e.g. agricultural commodities corn, canola, cotton)LMOs for contained use (e.g. bacteria for laboratory scientific experiment)


Transboundary Movement ProceduresThe Biosafety Protocol regulates the trans-boundary movement of living modified organisms by establishing procedures for the export and import of these organisms and maintaining an information exchange mechanism known as the Biosafety Clearing-House.

Transboundary movements of LMOs intended forintentional introduction into the environment of the Party of import are subject to the advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure, which applies before the first intentional trans-boundary movement of the LMO in question.

Step 1 Notification by ExporterStep 2 Acknowledgement of receipt of notification by ImporterStep 3 Decision Making

Transboundary Movement of LMOs

On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003, ninety days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification.

Currently 163 parties to the Protocol

Status of Protocol

SummaryCartagena Protocol on Biosafety recognizes the potential of biotechnology if developed and used with adequate safety measures

Protocol is intended to ensure safety of LMOs, not to prohibit their trade

Customs officials have a central role to play in implementation of the Protocol