Model National Biosafety Law
by Gurdial Singh Nijar
16.5cm x 24cm
Nations of the South are increasingly faced with the prospect of the introduction into their countries of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products derived from GNOs. These will enter countries of the Third World in greater abundance as the movement by consumers, manufacturers and retailers in the North to reject these GMOs and their products gains momentum. It is now widely acknowledged that serious potential risks are presented by this technology. The magnitude and scope of the consequences to human and animal health and ecosystems may be very serious and the effects irreversible, even if the probability of risk occurance may be low. This prompted the international community to commence negotiations for a biosafety protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity. But these negotiations have been stalemated. The protocol is not expected to emerge before the new millennium dawns. Consequently, there are no regulations in place to deal especially with the movement across boundaries of these GMOs and their products. For this reason, countries are seeking to put in place national laws. Further, there are several aspects which are best addressed exclusively by national laws.
This model law has been drafted to present one possible option.
Key provisions in the model law include: the precautionary principle, risk assessment procedures, public participation and accountability, identification and labelling, confidential business information, protection for whistleblowers, and liability and redress. The model law also extends locus standi and allows for compensation for loss and damage in criminal proceedings. Socio-economic factors, sustainable development and sustainable and safer alternatives must be considered when assessing risks.
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