A Brief History of the Compact

Biotech crops have been planted for more than a decade on over two billion acres of land without any damage to biological diversity. More than 14 million farmers worldwide have benefited from growing biotech crops by creating a more sustainable world supply of food, feed, fibre and fuel. The plant science industry is confident in the safety of biotech crops, which undergo careful assessment and review to prevent risks to biological diversity prior to commercialization.

As worldwide use of biotech crops continues to grow, questions have been raised about how countries would pursue claims alleging that a specific biotech crop caused damage to biological diversity: How does a country take legal action?  Who is responsible for the damage?  How is the damage assessed? What resolutions are possible? Right now, most national and international laws do not have clear standards and procedures for answering these questions.

In 2008 CropLife’s plant biotech members voluntarily addressed these questions by developing standards and a process for evaluating claims alleging damage to biological diversity.

The Compact, which became operational in 2010, is a clearly defined, efficient, and fair process for a United Nations Member State to file and process claims in the event of damage to biological diversity caused by living modified organisms (LMOs). Compact Members are contractually obligated to be responsible for damage to biological diversity caused by the release of LMOs by that company.

The resolve cases, the Compact has a clear-cut, science-based process where all decisions are made by independent commissioners and arbitrators. The Compact is binding and fair to both States and its Members, and offers numerous benefits to both States concerned about protecting their biological diversity and to technology providers developing and commercializing LMOs:

    • The certainty of a fair, clear, and definite process.
    • Assurance of a Compact Members’ financial ability to respond.
    • Independent administration of a claim by the highly respected Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague.
    • Timely, efficient, and effective handling of claims which are likely to be very complex.
    • Agreement to binding arbitration and consent to jurisdiction.
    • Member-supported enforcement of an award if a claim is successful.
    • Reimbursement of arbitration costs on successful claims brought by a number of categories of States.