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PhilippinesPhilippines - DA-BPO conducts Capacity building on Modern Biotechnology Tools for Crop/Animal Improvement
Since the DA-DENR-DILG-DOH-DOST Joint Department Circular governing plants and plant products derived from the use of modern biotechnology took effect last April 16, 2016, the Department of Agriculture Biotech Program Office (DA-BPO) has been incessantly conducting activities in collaboration with other institutions to strengthen the capacity and participation of the five government departments involved in the biosafety regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). 

Last April 17-21, DA-BPO conducted a Biotechnology Training Course on Basic Biotechnology Tools for Crop/Animal Improvement in the Philippine Rice Research Institute at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

With speakers from the academe and public research institutions, the week-long training focused on explaining the technical and scientific concepts of modern biotechnology and domestic and international instruments used as basis for safety assessment of GMOs. The course aimed to enhance the understanding of participants on the application of modern biotechnology tools, the Philippine biotechnology regulatory system, and research and development activities on GM crops being carried out by the public research institutions and provide sources of information that can be referenced in carrying out risk assessment. The participants were comprised of regulatory officers from the five departments involved in the implementation of the JDC.

The Philippines is the first country in Asia to  establish a biosafety regulatory system for GMOs and also the first to commercialize agribiotech crop - Bt corn.
PhilippinesPhilippines - PAEP: JDC Public Briefing goes to Cebu
As part of the continuing initiatives in strengthening public awareness on the benefits of modern biotechnology and the safety assessment of its products, the DOST Biosafety Committee Secretariat   participated as resource speaker on the 4th Leg of the Biotechnology  and Joint Department Circular Joint Department Circular (JDC) Public Briefing last April 4 in Cebu City.

The event is a continuing effort aimed to increase the level of awareness of  members of the local government units, researchers, students and farmer groups about the science and current research trends on modern biotechnology; as well as the biosafety regulatory systems that govern these technologies. Ms. Estacio, together with Ms. Ma. Lorelie U. Agbagala, Agricultural Center Chief II of the DA- Bureau of Plant Industry, discussed the key features of the JDC on the regulation of plants and plant products derived from modern biotechnology, pursuant to the mandate of the Competent National Authorities.

The key features of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the country’s compliance  as party to the protocol,  the tools made available for public participation and awareness, the BCH and its features,  including the learning modules were likewise presented.

The participants were interested on the benefits of modern biotechnology to their farms, and how to avail GM seeds to increase their yield. The participants also asked how the new JDC will affect research projects on GMOs being developed by the public research institutions. They were assured that the JDC shall be true to its mandate of facilitating technology transfer while ensuring that safety assessments are done and meaningful public participation are provided to its stakeholders.

The public briefing was a collaborative undertaking by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture—Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA-BIC), and the Department of Agriculture and Public research Institutions. The next leg of the activity will be held in Davao City in August.
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsLaunch of the Biodiversity e-Learning Platform/Biosafety Modules
Two new biosafety self-paced learning modules on public access to biosafety information and public participation in decision-making regarding LMOs and an e-course on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for customs/border control officials, developed in collaboration with the Green Customs Initiative, has been launched by the Secretariat in March 2017. Please visit and enroll in the relevant modules at http://scbd.unssc.org.

The notification is available at  https://www.cbd.int/doc/notifications/2017/ntf-2017-021-cb-en.pdf?dowload
Malaysia was involved in a Side Event on the Asia Biosafety Clearing House (Asia BCH). The establishment of the Asia BCH Family is to enhance existing collaborative mechanisms in order to be self-sustaining and movement towards compliance to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as a region. Malaysia was represented by Mr. Letchumanan Ramatha, who gave a talk on the Asia BCH Roadmap as Enhance of Regional Cooperation to Improve Compliance. More information on http://www.biosafety.nre.gov.my. More...
SenegalSenegal - Atelier national sur la révision de la loi sur la biosécurité
Sous l’égide de l’Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité (Autorité nationale compétente) et en collaboration avec l’African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), le Sénégal s’est engagé depuis plusieurs mois dans un processus de révision de la loi sur la biosécurité (votée en 2009).

A ce titre, un atelier de partage a eu lieu les 19, 20 et 21 décembre 2016 à Saly Portudal (au sud de Dakar, sur la Petite Côte) et a vu la participation de l’ensemble des membres de l’Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité, du Comité national de Biosécurité et de diverses autres parties prenantes nationales. Cette rencontre avait pour objectif de recueillir les avis sur le draft de loi proposé pour la révision, ainsi que sur les textes d’accompagnement. La révision de la loi est motivée par :
- un souci d’alignement au Protocole additionnel de Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur (qui était faiblement pris en compte dans la loi de biosécurité votée en 2009) et au projet de règlement communautaire de biosécurité pour l’espace CEDEAO qui entre dans la dernière phase d’adoption,
- la nécessité d’une meilleure prise en compte de la recherche nationale en matière de biotechnologie moderne
- et l’importance d’assurer un cadre national de biosécurité plus opérationnel, ajusté au contexte actuel, à travers notamment la réorganisation du dispositif institutionnel et l’amélioration et/ou la définition de dispositions majeures à cet effet.

Cet atelier fait suite à deux rencontres de partage en interne, au sein du Ministère de l'Environnement et du Développement Durable (Ministère en charge de la biosécurité au Sénégal).
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsKingdom of Bahrain - Future steps towards CPB's implementation
The Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) in the Kingdom of Bahrain convened for a second time to fine-tune the third national report to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and to draw the future path for the Protocol's implementation. The event which took place on November 28 and 29, 2016 in Movenpick hotel in Manama - gathered national stakeholders from public and private sectors to discuss the guidelines and action plan for the Protocol's implementation. The development of the Third National Report was funded by GEF and technically supported by UNEP-ROWA. The report was developed and activities implemented in a collaborative atmosphere between Ms. Nouf Al Wasmi- CPB National Focal Point, Miss. Reem Al Mealla National Consultant and Dr. Elsa Sattout - International Consultant. Capacity building tools used during the 2nd workshop relied on the UNEP-GEF BCH I project entitled: 'Successfully operationalize the Biosafety Clearing House [BCH] mechanism in contracting parties and parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity'.
The 2-days workshop aimed at raising awareness on the CPB's main elements and provisions and introducing the Biosafety Clearing House as an important tool for CPB's implementation. It also presented the gap analysis related to the existing legal and administrative framework executed within the context of the development of the third national biosafety report. Today, Representatives from the private and public sectors decided about Bahrain national biosafety policy as well as on the guiding principles and application's mechanism of the Advanced Informed Agreement. Both activities show SCE-Bahrain strong commitment towards its citizens and the world regarding the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) finalised in February 2016. National biosafety assessment and the development of guidelines and action plan for the implementation of the Protocol were put on 2016 NBSAP’s agenda of work. That seems to be a promising first step towards moving forward in a timely manner in the NBSAP's implementation in the Kingdom.
SenegalSenegal - Réunion préparatoire de la participation du Sénégal à la MOP 8 du Protocole de Cartagena
Le 23 novembre 2016, sous l’égide de l’Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité (Autorité Nationale Compétente du Sénégal pour le Protocole de Cartagena), s’est tenue à Dakar la réunion préparatoire de la participation du Sénégal à la Huitième Réunion des Paries (MOP 8) au Protocole de Cartagena.

La réunion avait pour objectif principal de partager les documents de travail de la MOP 8,  de recueillir les orientations et recommandations de différentes parties prenantes nationales pour assurer une bonne participation de notre pays à la MOP 8 qui constitue une importante rencontre internationale de négociation regroupant plus cent quatre-vingt Etat-Parties.

La réunion préparatoire a ainsi vu la participation de membres de l’Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité (ANB), de membres du Comité National de Biosécurité (CNB), de représentants de la société civile, du réseau des journalistes pour l’environnement et de toutes les directions du Ministère de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable.
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsCaribbean Biosafety Risk Communication Workshop
“Risk Communication for GMOs” workshop, hosted by the Regional Biosafety Project in Tobago was facilitated by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). More...
Biosafety Clearing-House NewsCaribbean Biosafety Food and Feed Workshop
The Caribbean Regional Biosafety Project hosted a workshop on “Food and Feed Safety Assessment of GMOs” from 20-22 September 2016 in St. Kitts, facilitated by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) More...
PhilippinesPhilippines - Philippines conducts workshop on Socio-Economics, Ethical, and Cultural Considerations (SEECC) in the context of GM Regulations.
Last September 8-9, 2016, a workshop on the socio-economic considerations of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was held at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. 

The workshop was deemed necessary in light of the issuance of the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG  Joint Department Circular (JDC) No.1 Series of 2016 entitled “Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology” which stipulates that socio-economic considerations be taken into account in the risk assessment of GMOs, as stated in Article II, Section 3D: Socio-economic, Ethical and Cultural Considerations.

In making biosafety decisions for the commercialization of a regulated article, concerned departments shall take into account socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations arising from the impact of regulated articles on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities. (Emphasis added)

The workshop aimed to formulate the conceptual framework on the socio-economic, ethical and cultural considerations for GM crops and products. Speakers gave a brief background on the issues crucial to the Philippine biosafety regulatory system including concepts on socio-economic and biodiversity impact assessments, and ethical and cultural considerations. The discussions were not intended to be construed as a mandatory list of issues for implementation, rather, an initial discussion for defining a feasible, manageable, time and cost efficient, fair and protective approach for decision-making. The insights gained from said Workshop shall be useful to the regulators in the identification and formulation of the set of questions for incorporation in the risk assessment  instrument to be filled out by the proponent.

A second leg of the Workshop, is tentatively set in the first quarter of 2017. The activity will involve other stakeholders aside from the regulators in the government and shall further discuss the applicable questions and feasible approach for SEECC assessments and analyses under the Philippine setting.

The activity is a joint undertaking by the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) in collaboration with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS).