1.GMOs: Historic agreement but a small step for liability
2.Biosafety meeting 'must address GM insects'
3.Anti-GMO Parade For Biodiversity In Nagoya

NOTE: For more detail on item 1 see also: 'New treaty on liability for GMO damage is born' by Lim Li Ching, Third World Network
1.GMOs: Historic agreement but a small step for liability
Eric Darier, Directeur
Greenpeace, October 11 2010

After over 6 years of negotiations, the international community finally agreed last night in Japan to put in place a liability and redress regime in case of contamination caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This agreement that will be known as the 'Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplemental Protocol on Liability and redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety' is not a strict international liability instrument with a backup fund as Greenpeace advocated.

However, this agreement will enable countries to adopt and implement their own liability provisions and redress legislation and financial security while offering them some protection against WTO legal challenges about obstacles to trade.

The agreement will apply to damages caused directly by GMOs like genetic contamination. However, by keeping open the causality chain link between the damage and the GMO in question, it also includes products of GMOs which is a good element for an effective and meaningful liability regime.

During the negotiation, Greenpeace has consistently been pushing for a supplementary fund, paid for by a levy on GE imports in case of damages not covered by standard liability and redress.  Although this option had been rejected at a previous meeting, the agreement actually keeps open possible future measures to be considered by the Protocol.   

Tomorrow, the meeting will be dealing with risk assessment and hopefully GE fish!

More detailed analysis on the Liability and Redress Agreement available here.
2.Biosafety meeting 'must address GM insects'
Katherine Nightingale
SciDev.Net, 8 October 2010

International rules drawn up for genetically modified (GM) crops must be altered as soon as possible to deal with GM insects that will start emerging from labs soon, according to a researcher.

While the 2003 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety ”” an international agreement to protect biodiversity from the risks of GM organisms (GMOs) ”” also applies to GM mosquitoes, it was formulated with GM crops in mind, said John Marshall, researcher at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, in a letter in the September issue of Nature Biotechnology, ahead of a major biosafety meeting next week (11 15 October).

"People have long been avoiding these serious issues because it's not clear how to address them," Marshall told SciDev.Net. "The sooner [the discussion starts] the better ”” international regulatory documents can take a long time to be approved."

A number of strategies to use GM mosquitoes to control diseases such as malaria and dengue are in the pipeline.

'Self limiting' strategies, such as releasing sterile male mosquitoes, are much closer to being used than those that aim to spread, or 'drive', disease-resistant genes through wild populations (the 'gene drive' mechanisms), which will probably need another decade of research to reach field trials.

A working group charged with developing risk assessment guidelines for GM mosquitoes will present its report to the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, in Nagoya, Japan.

The report deals with the risks of releasing GM mosquitoes and recommendations on how to handle those risks. But, whilst it adequately covers the risks of 'self limiting' strategies, said Marshall, 'gene drive' mechanisms raise many other unique concerns.

For example, the current protocol bans the release of GMOs that are likely to cross the border of the country which is planning to release them. This makes "the release of self-sustaining mosquitoes impossible", said Marshall.

Also, currently GM companies are not required to perform a risk assessment for GMOs in transit or destined for contained use, leaving "inadequate protection" from accidental release during transport to  field trials, said Marshall.

This omission also prevents the country in which outdoor field trials take place from asking for a risk assessment from a country where GMOs originate.

"The question is whether it would be possible to amend the Cartagena Protocol so that it applies to GM mosquitoes and all of their unique biosafety concerns or whether a different regulatory structure is required," said Marshall.

Ricarda Steinbrecher, co-director of EcoNexus, a UK-based non-profit science watchdog, said that even the self-limiting strategies raise many biosafety concerns, and that there is an urgent need to discuss issues related to GMOs crossing national boundaries.

But Anthony James, a molecular geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, United States, said that these issues are already being discussed. "People have thought about cross-border issues. The WHO-TDR (Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) has a working group coming up with guidelines. I know they've been interacting with people involved in the Cartagena Protocol."

He added that the science in this area is young and the WHO-TDR documents probably were not ready to feed into the preparation for next week's meeting. "The issue will probably be on the agenda for the next round of meetings," he said.
3.Anti-GMO Parade For Biodiversity In Nagoya
Martin J Frid
Kurashi - News From Japan, October 11 2010

Some 1000 activists, farmers, and consumers held events in Nagoya on Sunday, with a big parade through the busy city. The Japan Citizens' Network for Planet Diversity, Co-ops including Seikatsu Club and many local NGOs, Organic farmers and members of the Shumei Network, and Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign made the front page news this sunny Monday morning, as the government delegates start negotiations today about biological diversity...