The Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) is a mechanism established in Article 20 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to facilitate the exchange of information on Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and to assist Parties in complying with their obligations under the Protocol.
The BCH functions as a central information marketplace where the providers and users interact and exchange information on biosafety. All interested users can freely search and retrieve information through the BCH website.
The primary sources of guidance on the functioning and implementation of the BCH are found in the modalities of operation of the BCH (see Annex to decision BS-I/3).
The term "clearing-house" refers to a mechanism or institution that brings together seekers and providers of goods, services or information, thus matching demand with supply.
Accordingly, with respect to biosafety information, Article 20, paragraph 1, of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety established a BCH as part of the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in order to:
a. Facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, living modified organisms; and
b. Assist Parties to implement the Protocol, taking into account the special needs of developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and countries with economies in transition as well as countries that are centres of origin and centres of genetic diversity.
In practical terms, the BCH is a website that is free and accessible to all users and gives global access to a variety of scientific, technical, environmental, legal and capacity-building information in the six official languages of the UN. The BCH fulfills its mandate by providing a dynamic platform where information is registered by users and where it can be easily searched and retrieved.
Who is the BCH for?
The Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) provides free access to all users. Some examples of different ways people can use the BCH are outlined below.
Governments and risk assessors:
Much of the information in the BCH is owned and updated by national governments. It can be used to assist in making informed decisions regarding the importation or release of living modified organisms.
The BCH fosters transparency in biosafety decision-making by allowing easy and open access to key information, which facilitates effective participation of the public and non-government organizations in the decision‑making process.
Scientists and academics:
The BCH facilitates scientific and technical cooperation by allowing users to contribute or access biosafety-related information, and through facilitating coordination and synergy between initiatives.
The BCH provides easy access to vital information relevant to imports and exports, including details of national contacts, relevant laws and regulations, and decisions and declarations governing the use and handling of living modified organisms.