Biotech players discuss international agreements on agribiotech

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Biotech players from 15 countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe gathered at the workshop hosted at Monash University Malaysia

SOME 36 biotech players from 15 countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe gathered for a workshop on regula­tory, scientific, and communication aspects of the implementation of international agreements relevant to agribiotechnology.

The event was held from Nov 6-7, at Monash University Malaysia. The participants were biotechnology scientists, science communicators, and representatives from public and private sectors.

Prof Piet van der Meer, a biologist and lawyer from Ghent University and Free University of Brussels, led the discussions on the international agreements, as well as key topics such as risk assessment, socio-economic considerations, and public awareness.

Perspectives from the public and private sectors were delivered by Prof Desiree Hautea, a University of the Philippines Los Baños scientist, Dr Felicity Keeper, Global Regulatory Manager at Bayer Australia and Dr Lucia de Souza of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI).

Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan, Executive Director of Malaysian Biotechnology Information Center (Mabic), discussed the considerations in facilitating public acceptance of biotechnology.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) was established to guide Parties in developing systems for the environmentally sound management of modern biotechnology applications.

Eight Meetings of the Parties to the Protocol (MOPs) have been held since the Protocol entered into force in 2003. The next meeting, MOP 9, is planned for Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt from Nov 10-22, 2018.

ISAAA has been organising preparatory meetings for the Asian region to prepare the delegates at a sub-regional/regional level to reinforce the capacity of Parties to develop their respective positions and to prepare for the MOP and also importantly allow the different Parties to be aware of and appreciate their respective positions, and stimulate the formation of harmonised regional positions or consensus on MOP topics.

This is important as positions take at MOP strongly affect public research, development, commercialisation and even trade of living modified organisms (LMOs). National regulations and implementation are very much dependent on the international instrument, in this case, the CPB, rendering importance to creating awareness on legal aspects of agribiotechnology and communicating them to regulators and scientists.

Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Meetings of the Parties (MOP) to two involve a number of Protocols and Supplementary Protocol.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international environmental agreement that regulates the trans-boundary movements of LMOs.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (NP-ABS) is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.

A supplementary protocol that is also part of CPB is the Nagoya-KL Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress addresses the question of what would happen if the transboundary movement of living modified organisms (LMOs) has caused damage. — Crop Biotech Update