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Biosafety in Lithuania is an example for all of Europe

2013-09-13

Wednesday will mark the 10th anniversary of the Biological Diversity Convention's Cartagena Biosafety Protocol. Having ratified the protocol, Lithuania can be proud of the fact that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not being grown in Lithuania and that their use is heavily regulated.

“The biotechnological sciences opened vast opportunities for us to solve big problems. However, concerns about the potential effects of this new branch of science on our health and on the environment have also arisen. This is why it is important to ensure that we are adequately protected from any potential harm. Lithuania is already one of the most biotechnologically progressive nations in the world. We can go even further as long as we maintain and implement all necessary safety measures,” said Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis.

The Rio De Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development acknowledged the fact that modern biotechnology, if developed and implemented according to adequate environmental safety and human health measures, can offer great good to humanity.

Because of the limited capabilities of many countries, especially developing nations, to work safely with live genetically modified organisms, the United Nations Convention Biological Diversity's secretariat formed a biosafety work group in November of 1995 during the second Convention on Biological Diversity nations' meeting (COP MOP 2) to prepare the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol project.

The Cartagena Biosafety Protocol was signed on the 24th of may, 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya, and went into effect on the 11th of September, 2003 with the 50th nation's ratification. Today, the protocol is one of the most rapidly growing United Nations international agreements. It has been ratified by more than 165 world nations.

The purpose of the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol is to ensure an adequate security level for any live modified organisms that have been created by modern biotechnologies and which have the potential to negatively impact biodiversity protection and sustainable use efforts. Ratifying nations are also obligated to seek the safe transport, processing and use of live modified organisms.

Nations that are parties to the Cartagena protocol are obligated to take all legal and administrative measures to implement their accepted responsibilities. This is why the Protocol's nations took practical steps towards forming national biosafety systems. These national biosafety systems are also tasked with evaluating the potential risks that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can pose to the environment and to human health. These biosafety systems are being implemented in order to ensure safety requirements for the import, export and transit of live modified organisms.

More than one hundred of the Protocol's signatory nations have already prepared or are completing national laws designed to implement the provisions of the Protocol. The nations have the opportunity to exchange GMO-related information through the biosafety information center's (BCH) information system (http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/).

Lithuania ratified the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol on September 18th, 2003. Laws have been accepted by the European Union and the Republic of Lithuania that ensure that this international agreement is implemented. According to the Republic of Lithuania's law on genetically modified organisms, national GMO control in Lithuania will be carried out by the Ministry of Environment together with other interested institutions, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, and the State Food and Veterinary Service.

In 2010, the Protocol's nations agreed to amend the document on responsibility and compensation, which defines international rules and procedures for responsibility and compensation related to live modified organisms.

Lithuania ratified the Supplemental protocol on the 6th of December, 2012. This protocol will be considered active 90 days from the day when the nations deposit the 40th ratification, confirmation, adoption or accession document. At this time, 16 nations have deposited ratification documents, 10 of which are European Union nations.

On the 16th of September, 2013, Lithuania will chair the European Union Council's working group on international environmental issues. Lithuania, which has already ratified biosafety procedures and implemented them into its national laws, will encourage other nations to follow its example and, should the need arise, will offer its help and share its experiences.


Public Information Division
2013-09-13


Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas