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Background Information

In decision BS-V/16, the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol (COP-MOP) adopted a Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Protocol during the 2011-2020 period. The Strategic Plan identifies a number of outcomes that need to be achieved as a consequence of a set of operational objectives. Under operational objectives 1.6, 1.8 and 2.3 regarding handling, transport, packaging and identification, the Parties set the following outcomes:

  • Easy to use and reliable technical tools for the detection of unauthorized living modified organisms (LMOs) are developed and made available (under Operational Objective 1.6);
  • Guidance developed to assist Parties to detect and take measures to respond to unintentional releases of living modified organisms (under Operational Objective 1.8); and
  • Personnel are trained and equipped for sampling, detection and identification of LMOs (under Operational Objective 2.3).

In decision BS-VII/10, the COP-MOP reiterated the importance of the detection and identification of LMOs in the implementation of the Protocol by, among other things:
  1. Requesting the Network of Laboratories for the Detection and Identification of Living Modified Organisms to continue working on issues relevant to the detection and identification of living modified organisms with a view to achieving the relevant operational objectives of the Strategic Plan;
  2. Requesting the Executive Secretary to organize, in cooperation with relevant organizations, subject to the availability of funds, capacity-building activities such as online and face-to-face training workshops on sampling, detection and identification of living modified organisms;
  3. Inviting Parties and other Governments to submit views on what constitutes “unintentional transboundary movements” in contrast with “illegal transboundary movements” and what type of information should be exchanged through the Biosafety Clearing-House for consideration by the Compliance Committee at its thirteenth meeting; and,
  4. Inviting Parties and other Governments to submit information on actual cases of unintentional/illegal transboundary movements and case studies related to their existing mechanisms for emergency measures in case of unintentional/illegal transboundary movements of living modified organisms.

With a view to working towards the implementation of these requests, the Secretariat has organised a series of online discussions as a starting point for the implementation of the relevant elements of the decision.

Further to these online discussions, a workshop of the Network of Laboratories for the Detection and Identification of Living Modified Organisms, was held from 9-11 June 2015, with financial support from the Government of Japan through the Japan Biodiversity Fund and in collaboration with the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy.

The specific objectives of the workshop were as follows:
  1. To design the outline for capacity-building workshops on the detection and identification of living modified organisms;
  2. To compile and develop, as appropriate, didactic material for the capacity-building activities referred to in paragraph (a) above;
  3. To continue the development of technical tools and guidance as outlined in the operational objectives 1.6 and 1.8 of the Strategic Plan.