Biosafety Clearing-House News
On 4 to 8 June, the regulators from Departments of Health (DOH) and Science and Technology (DOST) participated in the 14th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (ISBGMO) in Guadalajara, México. For this year, the conference theme was "Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms: past, present and future"
The group was composed of Dr. Rodolfo Antonio Albornoz, Engr. Rolando Santiago, Dr. Leonardo Gonzales, Dr. Flerida Cariño, and Ms. Julieta Fe L. Estacio are are members of the DOH and DOST Biosafety committees which are primarily in-charge of the biosafety management of GMOs in the country.
Further, Dr. Gonzales and Ms. Estacio participated in the scientific poster presentation with posters entitled: “Biosafety Regulators Challenge: Measuring and Monitoring the Socio-economic Impact of GMOs in the Philippines” and “Public Awareness and the Asia BCH: The Philippine Experience”, respectively.
Ms. Estacio was also invited to the PechaKucha session wherein the country's experience in public awareness was presented, alongside the collaboration and commitment of the twenty three (23) Asian countries known as the "Asia BCH Family". Also called as the ABF, these countries are continuously enhancing their efforts in implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety by way of the four focal areas in the BCH Roadmap (2016-2020): Compliance, Regional networking and collaboration, Capacity building and Public Awareness and Education.
Attendance in the Symposium provided an opportunity for other country regulators to exchange information and experiences about the latest developments in the field of biosafety. New breeding techniques and results of several years of studies on the effects of GMOs on the environment were also presented with the aim for helping regulators in the conduct of risk assessment and management of GMOs.
The ISBGMO is a biennial, international meeting organized under the auspices of the International Society on Biosafety Research (ISBR) with the goal to advance the standing of biosafety research around the world and shape the ways in which GM technology is applied and regulated. This event brings together academics, technology developers, regulatory authorities, non-government organizations and other credible stakeholders involved in all aspects of biosafety and offers a unique opportunity to share information and experiences and engage in open and meaningful dialogue on biosafety research, risk analysis, policy and regulatory matters.
Julieta Fe L. Estacio
Head Secretariat, NCBP
and NFP, BCH Pilipinas
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.
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.
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...
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).
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.
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.
“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...
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...