UN admits potential risks of GMOs
After a decade of campaigning by Friends of the Earth, a new United Nations (UN) treaty on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) came into force on September 11th 2003.
The treaty is called the "Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety ". It is the first global agreement to recognise the potential threat of GMOs to the
natural world for example, through cross-pollination between a genetically modified and normal species.
It focuses on the international trade in most GMOs and requires exporters to get the permission of importing countries before shipment of GMOs. It allows importing governments to apply the precautionary principal when considering whether to let "live" GMOs like seeds into their borders. It also recommends that all shipments are accompanied by appropriate documentation and labelled "may contain GMOs"
But the Protocol doesn't go far enough on some crucial issues: For example, liability; there is still not a clear set of rules that ensure that if a GMO causes harm, it is the Biotechnology companies who have to pay not the victims or the environment.
The Biosafety Protocol is now part of a crucial set of global rules designed to protect the environment and communities. Our future work will fight to ensure that these get priority over other global rules (for example those of the World Trade Organisation) which would want the interests of business to come first.