Article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety provides that Parties may take into account socio-economic considerations in reaching a decision on import of living modified organisms (LMOs), but only to the extent consistent with that country’s other international obligations. Paragraph 1 further limits what may be taken into account by defining socio-economic considerations as those “arising from the impacts of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.” Paragraph 2 requires Parties to cooperate on research and information exchange on any socio-economic impacts of LMOs, especially on indigenous and local communities.
At their next meeting in November 2018, Parties to the Protocol will consider voluntary Guidance for the assessment of Socio-economic Considerations (SECs) that outlines a process-based approach led by regulators and assessors, and appropriately recognizes the knowledge, expertise, and experience each party plays in the assessment of SECs. The Guidance provides a systematic process designed to link national protection goals to socio-economic objectives and to characterize the relationship between the identified impact of the LMO and the relevant socio-economic effects to be assessed. It also recognizes the regulator’s authority and responsibility for evaluating results and drawing conclusions for use in decision-making.
The Global Industry Coalition (GIC) encourages countries to:
- “take note of” the guidance document in its current form;
- “invite” Parties and other governments, if applicable, to pilot the assessment process, share their experiences via the BCH, and submit examples of methodologies and applications of the guidance to the Executive Secretary for compilation and consideration by COP/MOP-10;
- and oppose extending the mandate of the current AHTEG to supplement the guidance until there has been sufficient use and experience to justify further work.