Cartegena Protocol enacts new LMO shipping regulations

by Emily Buckley
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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — The Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety came into effect on September 11, 2003. The protocol requires all imports of living modified organisms intended for direct use as food, feed or for processing into the signing countries to have documentation declaring that the product "may contain" LMOs and that they are not intended for intentional introduction into the environment. The documentation also requires a contact point for further information.

The parties of this protocol will decide within two years if further requirements are needed, and will resolve some remaining documentation issues next February in Malaysia.

The International Grain Trade Coalition, a consortium of export organizations from around the world, issued a release in September offering industry several suggestions for implementation.

"Entities impacted by the Biosafety Protocol are strongly encouraged to contact their legal counsel and regulatory affairs representatives for further information," warned the IGTC.

The IGTC suggested industry first check the Biosafety Clearing House (www.biodiv.org/biosafety/signinglist.aspx) to determine whether an importing country is a Party to the Protocol and confirm its date of entry, as countries are able to bring the Protocol into force on a date other than Sept. 11, 2003.

The IGTC also noted that several countries are currently developing their own regulatory frameworks for the transboundary movement of LMOs that could be more detailed than the Protocol. The BCH is in the pilot phase of development for a directory where each country must post its regulations (http://bch.biodiv.org/Pilot/Home.aspx). In the meantime, the IGTC said to clarify an importing country’s regulations before shipping.

The IGTC also suggested companies place the required disclaim-er on the commercial invoice for easy recognition, and list the final exporter and the primary importer as contact points.

(For further reaction to the Cartegena Protocol, see pages 6 and 52 in this issue.)

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