A list of generic questions/answers is available from the CBD Web site.
Some of these questions are mentioned below. They will be completed later on based on experience with national implementation of the Cartagena Protocol.
What does the Protocol cover?
The Protocol applies to the transboundary movement, transit, handling and use of all living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health (see Article 4).
However, LMOs that are pharmaceuticals for humans are excluded from the scope of the Protocol if they are covered by other international agreements or arrangements (see Article 5).
What are the main features of the Protocol?
The Protocol promotes biosafety by establishing rules and procedures for the safe transfer, handling, and use of LMOs, with specific focus on transboundary movements of LMOs. It features a set of procedures including one for LMOs that are to be intentionally introduced into the environment (advance informed agreement procedure, see Articles 7 to 10 and 12), and one for LMOs that are intended to be used directly as food or feed or for processing (see Article 11). Parties to the Protocol must ensure that LMOs are handled, packaged and transported under conditions of safety. Furthermore, the shipment of LMOs subject to transboundary movement must be accompanied by appropriate documentation specifying, among other things, identity of LMOs and contact point for further information (see Article 18). These procedures and requirements are designed to provide importing Parties with the necessary information needed for making informed decisions about whether or not to accept LMO imports and for handling them in a safe manner.
The Party of import makes its decisions in accordance with scientifically sound risk assessments (see Article 15). The Protocol sets out principles and methodologies on how to conduct a risk assessment (see Annex III of the Protocol). In case of insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge, the Party of import may use precaution in making their decisions on import (see Article 10.6 and Article 11.8). Parties may also take into account, consistent with their international obligations, socio-economic considerations in reaching decisions on import of LMOs (see Article 26).
Parties must also adopt measures for managing any risks identified by the risk assessment (see Article 16), and they must take necessary steps in the event of accidental release of LMOs (see Article 17).
To facilitate its implementation, the Protocol establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House for Parties to exchange information (see Article 20), and contains a number of important provisions, including capacity-building (see Article 22), financial mechanism (see Article 28), compliance procedures (see Article 34) and public awareness and participation (see Article 23).
What is the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH)?
The Protocol established a Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) as part of the clearing-house mechanism of the Convention, in order to facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, living modified organisms; and to assist Parties to implement the Protocol. (see Article 20).