The leading agricultural biotechnology provider companies – BASF, Bayer CropScience, Corteva, and Syngenta – are voluntarily offering States a legally binding mechanism for seeking redress from a responsible party if the release of a Living Modified Organism (“LMO”) by that party causes damage to biological diversity. This groundbreaking agreement, called the “Compact,” is a demonstration of the companies’ confidence in the safety of their LMOs and commitment to protecting biological diversity.
The system the Compact sets up is accessible, fair, and efficient. Any State can submit a claim against a Compact Member if the release of an LMO by that Member caused damage to biological diversity in that State. If a settlement cannot be reached, the matter would be expeditiously resolved under the auspices and modified rules of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA”), a long-established independent international arbitration body, and the Compact. CropLife International (“CropLife”) has coordinated the development of the Compact, and the Members aspire to broaden Compact membership by others who work with LMOs.
The Compact fills an important void. Members have tremendous confidence in the safety of their LMOs and are committed to rigorous stewardship, risk assessment, and risk management to prevent damage to biological diversity. Nevertheless, they recognize that others have expressed concern that such damage could occur and, currently, many domestic and international legal systems do not have clear laws and procedures for addressing biological diversity-related damage. After considerable evaluation, it was decided that a binding contract for international arbitration, voluntarily committed to by industry leaders, would be the most immediate, efficient, and effective means to assure States that a company would provide redress should the release of an LMO by that Member cause damage to biological diversity.
In this light, the Compact’s goals are to assure the international community that its Members:
(1) engage in rigorous risk assessments before bringing an LMO to market;
(2) have the financial capacity (through insurance or other means) for responding in the unlikely event that the release of an LMO by that Member causes damage to biological diversity; and
(3) will promptly remediate such damage, or otherwise compensate a State, when necessary.
In drafting the Compact, the Members engaged in lengthy dialogues with States and stakeholders and gained helpful feedback. The four companies signed the Compact in 2010.
For more information visit the Compact’s website at www.biodiversitycompact.org