India calls for balanced approach for management of LMOs


Hyderabad : India Monday called for adopting a balanced approach for evolving a liability and redressal mechanism for damage resulting from use of LMOs (living modified organism) so that it does not become a barrier to innovation.

Addressing the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety (COP MOP 6) which began here Monday, Minister of Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natrajan stressed the need for science-based approach to regulation and balancing the need for innovation with proper regulation.

LMOs are those organisms that are genetically modified through the application of biotechnology.

She said India being a mega diverse and a mega biotech country was committed to implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in a balanced manner.

She pointed out that India, recognizing the importance of liability and redress for use of LMOs, signed the supplementary protocol last year and initiated the process of ratification.

About 2,000 delegates from more than 150 countries are attending the five-day meet, which precedes the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11).

The Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety was adopted in 2010 while the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress was adopted at the last meeting of the parties in Nagoya, Japan in 2010.

The COP MOP 6 will discuss and adopt further decisions to contribute to ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs resulting from modern biotechnology.

With India taking over the presidency of the COP for the next two years, the minister urged the countries to fast track the process of ratification of the supplementary protocol.

She admitted that the issue of LMOs was controversial with concerns about its long term impact on bio-diversity and human health.

Of 164 parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety, 51 have signed the supplementary protocol. Only three countries have so far ratified it. The supplementary protocol will enter into force 90 days after 40 parties have ratified it.

The minister noted that there were no shortcuts and soft options in the endeavour of balancing the application of technology with protection of environment and human health.

She stressed the need to recognize diversity in needs of countries using LMOs, their priorities and value systems.

“The challenge before us is to evolve suitable methodology and to improve upon current ones to conduct science-based risk assessment taking into account conditions and context in each country,” the minister said.

The other challenge is to ensure letter and spirit of CBD is incorporated in our efforts to use LMOs in a safe and sustainable manner, she added.

The minister noted that the implementation of the protocol was slow and compliance among parties is at great variance.

She pointed out that lack of capacity and resources among parties was one of the main reasons for slow progress in implementing the obligations of the protocol.