Nelly Bassily | February 23, 2009
As this story demonstrates, those in favour of biotechnology are convinced that GMOs will help guarantee food supplies, especially in times of drought, while many people advocate against their use, maintaining that the impact of GMOs on human health and the environment is still unknown.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety – a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity – deals with living modified organisms (LMOs). The protocol came into effect on September 11, 2003. Signatories to the protocol have agreed to take a precautionary approach to the transfer, handling, and use of LMOs, particularly during transboundary movement.
You can view the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in its entirety on the website for the Convention on Biological Diversity: http://www.cbd.int/.
To see the status of GMO use in countries that have ratified the Cartagena Protocol, visit the website of the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum: http://www.absfafrica.org/pages/biotech_status.html.
The Biosafety Clearing-House website offers a searchable database of laws and regulations concerning GMOs in various countries: http://bch.cbd.int/database/laws/.
If you are interested in researching a story about GMOs in your area, you may wish to consider the following questions:
-What laws does your country have to regulate biosafety and biosecurity?
-What information about GMOs is available to farmers in your area? Who provides this information? Are farmers aware of their rights in relation to GMO use?
-Are there NGOs, industry groups, or other organizations in your area advocating for or against GMOs?
You may also wish to review these links about GMOs:
-A previous FRW article about Kenya’s new biosafety legislation:
Kenya: New legislation would provide legal framework for GMOs (SciDev.Net):
-An article written by the NGO GRAIN, Fighting GMO contamination around the World:
-A report by the NGO GRAIN on the consequences of genetically modified crops for small-scale African farmers: http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=12
The new weapons of genetic engineering:
-A policy paper written by the International Food Policy Research Institute,
Governing the GM Crop Revolution: Policy Choices for Developing Countries:
-The website of the NGO Biowatch South Africa: http://www.biowatch.org.za/
Here are some other web resources on the subject of GMOs:
-Audio from an interview with Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Muta Maathai on transgenic crops: http://www.interworldradio.net/audiofiles/Kenya_GM_Maathai_Interview_hi.mp3
-A biography of this renowned environmentalist:
-A list of arguments for and against GMOs, prepared by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
-Arguments for: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo7.htm
-Arguments against: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo8.htm