The detection and identification of living modified organisms (LMOs) is a broad reaching activity, which can facilitate the application of several articles of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. In the context of Article 18
, which addresses the issue of the handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMOs, the detection and identification of LMOs plays a part in the ability of national authorities to distinguish whether or not there are LMOs in a shipment both through proper packaging and labelling of shipments and through the analytical, laboratory based analysis of the contents of a shipment to detect unauthorised and unintended LMOs. To facilitate this process at its fifth meeting, in decision BS-V/9
, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) the COP-MOP requested the establishment, through the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH), of an electronic network of laboratories
involved in the detection and identification of LMOs and the organization of workshops for heads of detection laboratories. Furthermore the identification of LMOs is also vital to the activities relating to Risk Management as outlined in Article 16
which requires Parties to adopt measures and strategies for preventing adverse effects and for managing and controlling risks identified by risk assessments. This may involve risk management activities such as monitoring the receiving environment in which detection and identification can be used as a tool. This can be further applied to the provisions of implementing Articles 17 and 25
on unintentional and illegal transboundry movements respectively.
Moreover upon the adoption of the Strategic Plan
for implementation of the Protocol for the period 2011-2020 by the COP-MOP as per decision BS-V/16
, several outcomes were set out that are relevant to LMO detection and identification:
- Easy to use and reliable technical tools for the detection of unauthorized LMOs are developed and made available (under Focal Area 1, Operational Objective 1.6);
- Guidance developed to assist Parties to detect and take measures to respond to unintentional releases of living modified organisms (under Focal Area 1, Operational Objective 1.8); and
- Personnel are trained and equipped for sampling, detection and identification of LMOs (under Focal Area 2, Operational Objective 2.3).
With a view to assisting Parties to address their capacity-building needs as, outlined in paragraph 3 of decision BS-IV/9
, and to achieve the outcomes of the Strategic Plan related to the detection of LMOs, the Secretariat is reconvening the discussions
under the Network of Laboratories for Detection and Identification of LMOs and launching a process comprising online discussions and a face-to-face workshop to bring together representatives of laboratories performing LMO detection to promote the exchange of experiences on the development of easy to use, rapid, reliable and cost-effective sampling and detection techniques for LMOs.