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Progress in the international handling of GMOs

“After difficult negotiations, we have achieved a positive outcome, making all our effort worthwhile,” said Ursula Heinen, Parliamentary State Secretary for the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. She was speaking in Bonn on Friday, 16th May 2008 following the fourth UN Conference on Biological Safety. “All the participants agreed to work towards legally binding rules, which will ensure the implementation of the Protocol within the next two years. I am very satisfied with the result.”

Speaking at the closing press conference, Ursula Heinen said: “Those who cause damage with genetically modified organisms must be held responsible for their acts. This recognition of liability must not depend on the good will of those who cause the damage, but must be put on a legally binding basis. And that is what we have now agreed to.” Specific legal aspects will now be worked out in discussion with legal experts.

The Cartagena Protocol also contains a range of regulations specifying the practical handling of genetically modified organisms, explained Ursula Heinen. “Many agreements have been set out that are important for the further development of the Cartagena Protocol,” said Ursula Heinen.

Heinen also highlighted the difficulties in reaching a binding agreement since the views of the different delegates on liability differed considerably. The potential outcomes ranged from non-binding agreements to very rigid legal solutions. “We nearly reached a point where failure was a real possibility,” said Ursula Heinen emphasising that the final decision was worth the effort. “I am very positive about the outcome of this conference.”

“I would like to particularly highlight the continual willingness to help and the exemplary commitment of the Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, and his colleagues,” said the Parliamentary State Secretary who also thanked all delegates for their willingness to compromise. “Success is only possible if we are aware of our international responsibility and are prepared to work towards achieving a common ground.”

The Fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP4) was held between 12th and 16th May in the Hotel Maritim in Bonn. It was chaired by the Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) who is a leading light in the Cartagena Protocol. The conference was attended by over 2,000 registered participants.

Source: BMELV - 16th May 2008
Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/pm/progress-in-the-international-handling-of-gmos