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Past Activities 2014 - 2016

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Discussion Summary [#6542]
Dear Forum Participants,

Once again we would like to thank you for your active engagement in the online discussions. As always, your comments were very informative and constructive and we appreciate your contribution towards fulfilling the COP-MOP requests.

This discussion built upon the previous round with the view of drafting working definitions for “unintentional transboundary movement” and “illegal transboundary movement” of LMOs for consideration of the Compliance Committee and possible implications on the detection and identification of LMOs.

There was a general understanding that ”illegal” and “unintentional” are two different concepts in the context of the Protocol. The following attempts to synthesize the views shared and propose more clarity through working definitions for the consideration of the Compliance Committee.

There was an emerging consensus among your views with regard to providing conceptual clarity to the term “Illegal transboundary movement” as defined in the protocol (i.e. “transboundary movements of living modified organisms carried out in contravention of domestic measures of a Party to implement this Protocol”) as a term that relates (i) to an LMO that has not been through the decision procedure of the importing country either because a notification was not submitted, is under evaluation or was withdrawn without a decision being taken; or (ii) to an LMO whose import for one or more intended uses has been prohibited in the importing country.

Additional and more general considerations were also made regarding cross-border movements of LMOs that are carried out in contravention to requirements specified in the relevant national regulations with respect to, for example, labelling, packaging, and documentation accompanying an LMO shipment.

The views posted during the discussion were more divergent with regard to the term “Unintentional Transboundary movement”.

In the previous discussion participants deliberated the issue of intent as a criterion in determining whether a cross-border movement is “unintentional”. However, it was pointed out in that discussion that intent is very subjective and difficult to prove.

During the past discussion the issue of whether or not quantity is a determining factor when attempting to distinguish an “unintentional transboundary movement” was strongly discussed. Some interventions noted that “unintentional transboundary movements” include cases where:

• imported conventional agricultural commodities (seeds, products) contain a small quantity of LMOs, via botanical impurities or mixing of the commodity during handling;
• non-LM products are accidentally/involuntarily mixed with LMOs, which are present in quantities that are below analytical limits of detection; and
• an LM crop accidentally makes its way into the international food or feed supply chain through “low level presence” and/or “adventitious presence”, as defined by other bodies.

Nevertheless, some participants also noted that one can also have an “unintentional transboundary movement” that may result in an LMO being present in large amounts and, as such, quantity should not be a determining factor in defining “unintentional transboundary movement”.

We also took note of an intervention which suggested that our discussion should be limited, on the basis of the notification requirements in paragraph 17.1, to unintentional transboundary movements of LMOs that are “likely to have significant adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health”. Nevertheless, we would like to recall that paragraph 3 of article 16 on risk management calls for each Party to take appropriate measures to prevent unintentional transboundary movements of all LMOs. 

In an attempt to amalgamate the essence of the points raised during the discussions, we would like to distil the following proposals for working definitions:

“Illegal transboundary movements” include the cross-border movements of LMOs that have not been approved for particular use in the importing Party or that are carried out in contravention of any of the requirements specified in the relevant national legislations;

“Unintentional transboundary movements” are cross-border movements resulting from a deliberate or accidental release, including dispersal or mixing, of an LMO in the country of origin that are not properly notified or documented to the receiving country. In the event the LMO in question, or a particular intended use of that LMO, is not authorized in the receiving country, the transboundary movement may also be considered illegal.  

We hope that participants have found these discussions engaging and informative.  We feel that progress has been made in moving this discussion forward laying a foundation for further deliberations on this topic. Your views will be submitted, along with a synthesis of the submissions from Parties and other Governments on this issue, for consideration by the Compliance Committee at its thirteenth meeting.

We look forward to the upcoming discussions of the Network on further issues.
Kind regards,
posted on 2015-03-12 21:06 UTC by Dina Abdelhakim, SCBD

Update on 2015-03-12
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