Mexico Joins Treaty on GMO Liability & Compensation

GMOsOn September 26, 2012,the secretary of Mexico’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) formally notified the United Nations that Mexico has ratified the Nagoya–Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a treaty that deals with damage to biodiversity  that might be caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Com.131/12.-México refrenda su compromiso internacional con el Protocolo de Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur, SEMARNAT (Sept. 29, 2012).

GMOsWHAT THE PROTOCOL DOES. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Protocol is administered by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol provides international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from transboundary movements of “living modified organisms”–defined as organisms that possess novel combinations of genetic material “obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.” Among other things, each member state agrees in the Protocol to designate a “Competent Authority,” which will have responsibility for evaluating damage to biodiversity resulting from GMOs. The Competent Authority may direct “response measures” — “actions to (i) prevent, minimize, contain, mitigate, or otherwise avoid damage, as appropriate; and (ii) restore biological diversity.” 1 The Competent Authority may either undertake the response measures itself or order that they be carried out by the “operator”–defined as any person in direct or indirect control of the living modified organism.

RATIFICATION STATUS. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Protocol was opened for signature in March 2011 and will enter into force when it has been ratified by 40 countries. Although 50 nations and the European Union have signed the protocol, Mexico is only the third country to ratify the agreement (the other ratifying countries are the Czech Republic and Latvia).

by Shawn N. Sullivan, Sept. 30, 2012.

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