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What has been done on Handling, Transport, Packaging and Identification

The ICCP process

Prior to the entry into force of the Protocol, an interim governing body, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP), was established by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (decision EM-I/3).

At its first meeting, the ICCP reviewed relevant international rules and standards pertaining to handling, transport, packaging and identification and considered modalities for developing standards (UNEP/CBD/ICCP/1/6). ICCP-1 also invited Parties to the Convention, other Governments and relevant international organizations to provide to the Secretariat information on their existing practices, rules and standards relevant to Article 18 of the Protocol.

At its second meeting, the ICCP considered the synthesis of information provided by Parties, Governments and relevant international organizations on their existing practices, rules and standards relevant to Article 18 of the Protocol. It reviewed latest developments in existing rules, practices and standards and suggested options for coordinating the work with the work of other relevant international bodies (UNEP/CBD/ICCP/2/12/CORR1). ICCP-2, in its recommendation 2/10, requested Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations to provide any views and relevant information to the Secretariat regarding requirements contained in the first sentence of Article 18, paragraph 2 (a), by the time of entry into force of the Protocol and of each element of paragraph 2 (a) of Article 18 of the Protocol.

At its third meeting, in its recommendation 3/6, the ICCP forwarded a number of recommendations to the first meeting of the COP-MOP from information provided by an expert meeting on Handling, Transport, Packaging and Identification of LMOs. It invited views on the development of a unique identification system for LMOs. ICCP-3 reviewed a synthesis of views and relevant information on the requirements of paragraph 2 (a) of Article 18. It also considered modalities of information requirements for accompanying documentation under paragraphs 2 (b) and 2 (c) of Article 18.

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Identification requirements in documentation accompanying LMOs

The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) considered Article 18 and adopted an extensive decision BS-I/6 on handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMOs, taking into account the views and information gathered and recommendations made on the same subject during the interim process steered by the ICCP.

COP-MOP 1 decided, among other things, to establish an Open-ended technical expert group that would develop proposals on the details of the identification requirements for living modified organisms intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (LMOs-FFP) under paragraph 2(a) of Article 18; called for the use of a commercial invoice or other existing document for incorporating the information provided for by the Protocol to accompany transboundary LMO shipments; invited Parties to use Unique Identifiers for Transgenic Plants adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and requested the Secretariat to maintain a register of unique identification codes in the BCH. Furthermore, COP-MOP 1 requested the Secretariat to convene a workshop on capacity building and exchange of experiences as related to the implementation of paragraph 2 of Article 18. The workshop was held 1 - 3 November 2004 in Bonn, Germany.

The COP-MOP has also requested Parties and urged other Governments to provide in the documentation accompanying LMOs-FFP, the details of a contact point for further information on the LMOs; and urged Parties as well as other Governments to take measures that require the inclusion of (i) common, scientific and where available, commercial names, and (ii) the transformation event code of the LMOs, in the documentation accompanying LMOs-FFP.

The Open-Ended Technical Expert Group on Identification Requirements of LMOs-FFP (Article 18.2(a)) met from 16 to 18 March 2005. The Group reviewed the issues identified in its terms of reference (Annex, section A, BS-I/6) and agreed to forward its report, which contains a Chair’s text on a possible draft decision for the detailed requirements of documentation under paragraph 2(a) of Article 18, to COP-MOP 2.

At its second meeting, COP-MOP in decision BS-II/10 on paragraphs 2 (b) and 2 (c) of Article 18 urged Parties and invited other Governments to take necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of paragraphs 2 (b) and 2 (c) of Article 18 of the Protocol as elaborated by decision BS-I/6 B are fully complied with. It also urges Parties of import to make available to the BCH information on their domestic import and documentation requirements with respect to LMOs for contained use and intentional introduction into the environment. The effort by COP-MOP 2 to arrive at a consensual decision on the detailed identification and documentation requirements for the shipment of LMOs-FFP was not successful.

At its third meeting, COP-MOP made an important breakthrough regarding the contentious issue of detailed requirements for documentation accompanying shipments of living modified organisms intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing, which had eluded Governments during the last segment of the negotiations of the Protocol and since its adoption.

In decision BS-III/10, COP-MOP requested Parties to the Protocol and urged other Governments to take measures to ensure that documentation accompanying living modified organisms intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing clearly states the information specified in paragraph 4 of the decision. The Parties decided to review and assess, at their fifth meeting, the experience gained with the implementation of the agreed documentation requirements and to examine the capacity-building efforts in developing countries taken in this regard. Parties and other Governments were also encouraged to cooperate in exchanging experiences and building capacities in the use and development of sampling and detection techniques for living modified organisms and to submit to the Executive Secretary information on experience gained with the use of those techniques and on the need for and modalities of developing criteria for their acceptability and harmonization.

In decision BS-III/8, COP-MOP agreed to consider, at its fourth meeting, a report on the experience gained with the use of a commercial invoice or other documents required or utilized by existing documentation systems, or pursuant to national requirements with a view to future consideration of a stand-alone document.

At its fourth meeting, COP-MOP reviewed, among other things, experience gained with the use of sampling and detection techniques (paragraph 2(a) of Article 18) and with the use of existing documentation to fulfil the identification requirements of paragraphs 2(b) and (c) of Article 18. In decision BS-IV/9 on paragraph 2(a) of Article 18, COP-MOP requested Parties and encouraged other Governments, relevant international organizations and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to cooperate with and support developing country Parties in capacity-building efforts in the sampling and detection of LMOs, including the setting up of laboratory facilities and training of local regulatory and scientific personnel. It also requested Parties and encouraged other Governments and relevant international organizations to ensure that information on rules and standards on the sampling of LMOs and detection techniques be made available via the BCH. In decision BS-IV/8, on paragraphs 2(b) and (c) of Article 18, Parties agreed to review the paragraphs further at their sixth meeting to review experience based on the analysis of the second national reports.

At its fifth meeting, COP-MOP, noting the limited experience gained to date, decided to postpone until its seventh meeting further decision-taking on detailed information to be included in documentation accompanying LMOs-FFP and urged Parties and other Governments to continue incorporating information required to identify LMOs-FFP into existing documentation accompanying their shipments (decision BS-V/8). It invited Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to submit to the Secretariat prior to COP-MOP 7 further information on experience gained, including any obstacles encountered in implementing identification and documentation requirements and any specific capacity-building needs. COP-MOP 5 also invited Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to cooperate with and support developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to build their capacity to implement the identification requirements

At its sixth meeting, in decision BS-VI/8, COP-MOP urged Parties to expedite the implementation of their biosafety regulatory frameworks and make available to the BCH any laws, regulations and guidelines for the implementation of the Protocol and any changes to their regulatory requirements related to the identification and documentation of LMOs destined for contained use or LMOs for intentional introduction into the environment. Parties are also requested to continue to implement the requirements of paragraphs 2(b) and (c) of Article 18 and related decisions through the use of a commercial invoice or other documents required or used by existing documentation systems, or documentation required by domestic regulatory or administrative frameworks.

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The need for and modalities of developing standards

Consideration of paragraph 3 of Article 18 began at the third meeting of COP-MOP. In decision BS-III/9, Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations were invited to submit to the Executive Secretary views and information on the adequacy of existing rules and standards for identification, handling, packaging and transport of goods and substances to address concerns relating to living modified organisms and the existing gaps that may justify a need to develop new rules and standards, for consideration at the next meeting.

At its fourth meeting, COP-MOP considered submissions compiled by the Secretariat relating to standards concerning the identification, handling, packaging and transport of LMOs. In decision BS-IV/10, COP-MOP requested the Executive Secretary to organize an online conference to identify the relevant standards and where gaps exist as well as to prepare a summary of the outcome reflecting the full range of views expressed for consideration at the fifth meeting of the COP-MOP. In addition, COP-MOP requested Parties and encouraged other Governments and international organizations to ensure that information related to these standards is available through the BCH.

At its fifth meeting, the COP-MOP in decision BS-V/9 requested the Secretariat to: (a) continue following relevant developments in standards and report to COP-MOP 6; (b) disseminate results of the previous Online Forum on Standards for LMO Shipments; (c) organize regional workshops for heads of laboratories involved in LMO detection to exchange information and experience on the implementation of standards and methods and workshops for customs officers on sampling and detection of LMOs; and (d) commission a study to analyse information on existing relevant standards, methods and guidance for consideration by COP-MOP 6. It also invited submissions to the BCH of information on existing standards, guidance on the use of international standards and on methods for the detection and identification of LMOs. Furthermore, Parties were invited to nominate reference laboratories to be part an electronic network of laboratories aimed at facilitating the identification of LMOs and the sharing of information and experiences. COP-MOP also invited collaboration between the Secretariat and (a) standard-setting bodies towards the establishment of an electronic communications group for the exchange of information on relevant activities; and (b) the International Plant Protection Convention on the development of an explanatory document on common terminology.

At its sixth meeting, in decision BS-VI/8, the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to further examine the potential gaps and inconsistencies identified in a study commissioned to analyze standards relevant to the handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMOs (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/6/INF/24) and to provide recommendations, as appropriate, to the seventh meeting of the COP-MOP. The decision also encouraged Parties and invited other Governments to support, in meetings of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization, the request of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity for observer status in the Committee.

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