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PhilippinesPhilippines - Philippines Steps Up as Coordinator of Asia BCH Roadmap
TAGUIG CITY, PHILIPPINES - The Philippines affirmed its commitment to strengthen cooperation in Asia with regard to upholding the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety by taking the lead as Coordinator of the Asia Biosafety-Clearing-House (BCH) Road Map.

The Road Map, developed and approved by the Parties in Asia during an earlier Workshop in Nanjing, China in November 2015, outlines the targets in the next five years (2016-2020) focused on build capacity towards effective participation to the BCH, promote public awareness, education and information, and enhance regional networking and cooperation, which hopefully, if realized, shall bring the region a step closer to the vision of One Asia BCH family.

During a Workshop held at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinupa on 5 to 7 April 2016, fellow Parties at the forefront of the initiative namely the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the People’s Republic of China, brainstormed and discussed in detail the subsequent steps to be undertaken to implement the Asia BCH Road Map, including the terms of reference (TOR) of the Road Map Coordinator for the period 2016 to 2017. A representative and consultants from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were also present to provide guidance.

Among the agreements reached were the creation of an Informal Consultative Committee (ICC) composed of the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, and one representative each from the UNEP, SCBD and the Compliance Committee. The ICC shall serve as advisory body to promote and sustain the activities as embodied in the  Road Map.

An Asia BCH web portal, will be set  up and administered by the Korea Biosafety Clearing House (KBCH to facilitate access to and sharing of information among Parties in the region such as available trainings, resource materials for PAEP, announcements, and news on the Parties’ respective activities.

The COP-MOP 8 side event entitled: “A Successful BCH Asia Family ☺” will highlight the history and milestones achieved by the Asian region leading to the development of the Asia BCH Road Map. Other presentations shall include the Road Map to enhance regional cooperation and coordination mechanism to fully implement and sustain the activities beyond 2020.

With the vision of “One Asia BCH Family”, the member Parties in Asia eagerly look forward to kick-start the sustainable implementation of the activities in the Road Map.

Julieta Fe L. Estacio
Project Development Officer IV, DOST
Head Secretariat, NCBP/DOST Biosafety Committee
and National Focal Point, BCH Pilipinas
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsPerú. Curso modular: Bioseguridad de los OVM en los ecosistemas productivos y su entorno
La Maestria en Ecologia Aplicada de la Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), el Centro de Investigaciones de Zonas Aridas (CIZA-UNALM) y la Coordinadora de Ciencia y Tecnologia en los Andes (CCTA) tienen el agrado de invitarlo al primer curso modular: Bioseguridad de los OVM en los ecosistemas productivos y su entorno, el cual se llevara a cabo del 9 al 13 de mayo de 2016 en el horario 18:00 a 21:00 horas en el campus de la UNALM (Lima, Perú). Este curso es realizado con el apoyo del proyecto MINAM-UNEP/GEF-UNOPS "Implementación del Marco Nacional de Bioseguridad en el Perú (IMNB-Perú)". More...
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsPerú - Curso de postgrado modular: Domesticación, manejo y conservación in situ de recursos genéticos
La Maestria en Ecologia Aplicada de la Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM) y el Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) tienen el agrado de invitarlo al curso de postgrado modular: Domesticación, manejo y conservación in situ de recursos genéticos que se llevara a cabo del 20 de junio al 8 de julio de 2016 en el campus de la UNALM (Lima, Perú). 

El curso consta de 4 módulos temáticos (Panorama de los recursos genéticos; procesos de domesticación de recursos genéticos; uso, manejo y conservación de recursos genéticos; y, perspectiva futura en el uso de los recursos genéticos). Ademas de las sesiones teóricas, el curso incluye una salida de campo, al interior del Perú, para desarrollar un trabajo de investigación. Mayores informes: ecologia_aplicada@lamolina.edu.pe o ccta@ccta.org.pe
MexicoMexico - CONVOCATORIA - "Tercer Curso Regional para el Fortalecimiento de Capacidades en Bioseguridad de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados 2016"
La CIBIOGEM tiene el agrado de convocar a servidores públicos de los países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe a participar en el "Tercer Curso Regional para el Fortalecimiento de Capacidades en Bioseguridad de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados 2016" que se realizará en la Ciudad de México del 14 al 18 de marzo de 2016.
El objetivo de esta colaboración internacional es permitir el intercambio de experiencias y capacidad técnica de nuestras Autoridades Nacionales Competentes e instituciones relacionadas.
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsAn Aarhus Convention/CBD checklist
A checklist of key measures required for ratifying and implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Article 23) and the Aarhus Convention’s Almaty Amendment has been prepared pursuant to the conclusions by the Chair of the joint Aarhus Convention/CBD round table in October 2013. Please visit the Portal on Public Awareness at http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/portal_art23/pa_main.shtml
BelarusBelarus - Workshop for Experts of the Republic of Belarus Ensuring the Safety in Genetic Engineering Activity, December 23
The workshop for experts of the Republic of Belarus involved in ensuring the safety in genetic engineering activity was held 23 December 2015 with support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus and UNEP-GEF in preparation of the Third National Report on the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in the Republic of Belarus on the basis of the State Scientific Institution «Institute of Genetics and Cytology of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus» functioning as the National Сoordination Biosafety Centre. Presentations of speakers are on the web site of the National Coordination Biosafety Centre: http://biosafety.org.by/seminar_23-12-2015.
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea - Seminar for GM animals
The “18th LMO Forum – International Seminar” (hereafter referred to as “Seminar”), organized by the Korea Biosafety Clearing House (KBCH, Director Ho-Min Jang, http://www.biosafety.or.kr) and sponsored by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy was held on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 10: 30am at the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton, Seoul.

□ (Purpose of Seminar) GM technology is not staying at soybeans, corn, canola and other plants, but commercially expanding to insects, fish and animals. The purpose of this seminar was to share with the public the current status and outlook for genetically modified animals, and to hold a general discussion on the potential benefits and risks of GM Animals.

□ (Contents of Seminar)

- (Fish) Along with the status and outlook of the development of GM fish domestically and abroad (presented by Dr. Yoon Kown Nam of Pukyong University), which includes ornamental fish, salmon and carp, there was a comprehensive presentation on environmental hazard assessment and safety management for fast growing salmon (Dr. Devlin of  Fisheries and Oceans Canada.)

- (Insects) There were also presentations on the history and research trends of GM insects used for pest control in agriculture and health and medical areas (Dr. Ohseok Kwon, Kyungbuk University); status on commercialization of GM insects by Oxitec, with focus on mosquitoes for the prevention of dengue fever (Dr. Camilla Beech of Oxitec); and development and commercialization strategy for GM silkworms for the purpose of producing fluorescent strings and useful material(Dr. Natuo Komoto, National Institute of Agrobiological Science, Japan).

- (Mammals) In addition, presentations were conducted on the current status and outlook regarding animal improvement, and development/production of customized animals with focus on the medical sector (Dr. Goo Jang, Seoul Nat’l University), and development strategy for pigs with application of genetic scissors technology for the purpose of increasing production of meat (Dr. Xi-jun Yin, Yanbian University).

□ At the Seminar, there was an audience of about 200 persons, which included students, citizens groups, government, researcher and media. They all revealed both high expectations and concern regarding GM animals. 

- There was considerable interest in the level of elimination of dengue fever through GM mosquitoes, the potential for development of GM mosquitoes to reduce malaria, the possibility of using muscle-strengthened pigs for human intake, and the actual usefulness of GM silkworms.

- The audience had particular interest in GM salmon, with many concerns over the details and process of risk assessment in the U.S., possibility of infertility, and impact on ecosystem in case of escape.

□ The media, newspapers and Internet media, as well as broadcasting stations enthusiastically covering the news, also showed great interest in this seminar. There was particular concern over the possibility of GM salmon damaging the ecosystem, and high expectations regarding GM mosquitoes and their ability to prevent infectious diseases such as dengue fever or malaria.

□ For the purpose of effective communication on LMOs, KBCH have held a total of 18 LMO forum-based seminars from 2010, which includes this international seminar and two others, upon sponsorship from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

- Through such LMO forum-based seminars that promote public participation, KBCH is contributing to the enhancement of public awareness regarding LMOs and biosafety.  This international seminar in particular will enable the provision of a healthy discussion forum to promote the sound development of the domestic bioindustry with use of GM animals.
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea - GMO Communication Programs for Students
Based on an awareness that there is a difference in the interest levels and positions regarding LMOs among the social classes, the Korea Biosafety Clearing House conducted a GMO Communication Program for the various strata, students in particular, in order to heighten recognition and understanding of GMOs.

① High School Students
“Is the use of LMOs suitable for sustainable development?” was the key topic of this event, titled the 6th National Debate Competition on Biosafety and Bioindustry for High School Students.  A total of 101 teams (202 students, 2 per team) participated, and the main competition was held on July 30. Participants conducted multi dimensional and indepth discussion on the impact LMO usage that has on the various sectors of economy, society and the environment in terms of sustainable development.  Through a short survey toward participants, it turned out to help alleviate biases and anxieties regarding GMOs, and students revealed that their degree of understanding had been elevated.

② University Students
For six months, from April to September of this year, the Korea Biosafety Clearing House ran a team of reporters consisting of 10 university students, for the purpose of inspiring voluntary interest of university students, improving their knowledge on GMOs, and promoting public communication based on their innovative ideas.  The reporters organized and analyzed major GMO related issues, and made visits to related research centers and NGOs, conducting interviews and uploading the information on their blogs or SNS sites, to produce a total of 159 content creations.  What was unique about products by this group of reporters was that the topic and format of the content were diverse, and they were complete to perfection, enabling themselves to become very useful potential textbooks in future KBCH communication activities.

In the future, the Korea Biosafety Clearing House shall continue to provide more opportunities for communication so that a balanced awareness can be formed based on objective and scientific GMO information.
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea - The LMO Safety Management Workshop for Trainees from Bhutan
From October 5 to 30, the Korea Biosafety Clearing House conducted a Workshop regarding LMO safety management for two officials from the Bhutan government, titled “Training Program for LMO Detection and Policy-making.”  This seminar was the second Workshop regarding safety management for Bhutan trainees, which was in accordance with the ‘Korea Biosafety Capacity Building Initiative’ proposed by Korea at the 7th Biosafety Protocol Conference of the Parties last year (COP-MOP 7), based on Korea’s years of experience in safety management of Living Modified Organisms.

At this LMO safety management Workshop, two members of BAFRA, an organization under Bhutan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, (Mr. Jambay Dorji, Ms. Tashi Yangzom) participated.  In order to increase the effectiveness and appropriateness, this Workshop consisted of customized training for each of the two participants.  It was planned to allow the participants to make direct visits to institutions in Korea pertaining to the work they are responsible for.  For the personnel in charge of laboratories, he was able to make a direct visit to the relevant university or government agency to develop capacity building in LMO detection and identification.  He was able to experience through direct experimentation the overall process from LMO sampling to DNA extraction and quantitative/qualitative analyses through use of PCR.  For the person in charge of law and systems, we introduced Korea’s LMO related laws and the safety management system, as well as food related laws and CODEX application cases, and conducted comparative studies with related laws in Bhutan.  Moreover, all participants made visits to several organizations so that they could review Korea’s LMO Risk assessment methodology and R&D status.

Going forward, the Korea Biosafety Clearing House shall use the Korea Initiative as a mechanism to provide major national examples to help cooperate with Asian countries to build a effective biosafety systems, and expand international cooperation in related areas such as ABS (Nagoya Protocol).

* The Korea Biosafety Capacity Building Initiative shall be implemented with focus on BCH information sharing, LMO safety management (led by Korea), Risk assessment and management, and Detection and identification (led by SCBD).  It will be implemented from 2015 to 2020 for six years for the purpose of promoting the ability of Parties to implement the Protocol.
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea - The Forth Asia Regional Biosafety Clearing House Workshop
On November 17th to 20th, the Forth Asia Regional Biosafety Clearing House Workshop was held in Nanjing, China by the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences(NIES), the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, and co-hosted by the Korea Biosafety Clearing House(KBCH) and United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP).

There were approximately 40 participants at this Workshop, which consisted of Biosafety Clearing House National Focal Points from 18 Asian countries as well as Regional Advisors, and personnel from South Korea, the UN Environment Programme, Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, and China. To hold this Workshop the Korea Biosafety Capacity Building Initiative and UN Environment Programme each assumed half of the costs, while China supplied local conveniences such as the conference site and field tour, etc. The countries that participated in the Workshop are as follows: Bangladesh, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Lao, Cambodia, Bhutan, India, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Korea, China.

At this Biosafety Clearing House Workshop, in order to assist the efficient implementation of the Biosafety Protocol by the participating nations, Regional Advisors conducted presentations* on the status of Biosafety Clearing House implementation and some countries conducted presentations as model examples. Each country shared updates on PAEP activities, and built inter-regional cooperative networks for information exchange. In addition, workshop attracted the interest of participants by holding an exhibition of posters and training materials to introduce the PAEP activities being conducted by each country. Of note, at this Workshop, an “Asia Biosafety Clearing House Roadmap” was established, which encompasses the Workshop goals and expected achievements for the 5 years up to 2020, Biosafety Clearing House and PAEP activities, cooperative networks and capacity building areas.
* Before beginning of the Workshop, a survey was conducted to assess the Biosafety Clearing House status of each country. The results were analyzed and shared to provide an opportunity to evaluate the BCH implementation level of one’s own country, and conceive various means for acquiring biosafety.

Participants engaged in heated discussions to complete the final Roadmap, which resulted in the final closing ceremony on the last day starting 6 hours after the originally planned time.
By preparing the Biosafety Clearing House Roadmap, participants could establish the direction for conduct of the BCH Workshop until 2020, and strengthen the spirit of the Asia BCH Family.