NORTH AMERICAN TRILATERAL ARRANGEMENT (2003). On why it is important to fill gaps.
Considering one of the guiding questions on the need or a willingness to cooperate with the Protocol on issues of mutual relevance, posted by the Secretariat for this Forum, I would like to draw your attention to the Trilateral Arrangement that was in force for a couple of years in the North American region. Under NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the three partners: Canada, the USA and Mexico signed an agreement with the objective of “articulating an understanding among Canada, Mexico and the United States of America with respect to the documentation requirements of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety pertaining to living modified organisms intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing. Specifically to clarify documentation requirements such that they fulfill the objectives of the Protocol without unnecessarily disrupting commodity trade.”
Source: AgrI-Food Trade Policy. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: http://www.agr.gc.ca/itpd-dpci/topics/bsp_trilateral_e.htm
This arrangement, under Art 24 of the CPB entered into force in October 29, 2003 with a duration of two years. And it was one of its kind, constituting a relevant effort between two non-Parties to the Protocol and Mexico, a Party. Commodity trade in this region is very large. A good example is maize exports from the US to Mexico in the year 2008 that were close to 8 million metric tonnes, according to information from the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture (SIAP, SAGARPA). A large part of this trade is GM maize for food, feed and processing (FFP), considering that currently over 85% of the US maize harvested is GM.
However, due to challenges in the interpretation of the Mexican Biosafety Law after its entry into force (May, 2005), the Agreement was not renewed and only a few companies still utilize the phrase “may contain LMOs” in their invoices.
Special attention was paid to one particular issue during the trilateral meetings held for implementing the arrangement: information exchange. This would have led to a closer relationship with Mexico as a Party to the Protocol, a megadiverse country as well as centre of origin and diversity of maize who really needs detailed molecular information in order to perform post-market monitoring and possible gene flow from GM maize imports.
In this global village, a transparent procedure must exist between Parties and non-Parties where the provisions of the CPB are honored. In the North American region this understanding still remains to be fulfilled.
Amanda Galvez, PhD. Professor. National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
posted on 2009-06-04 18:21 UTC by Dr. Amanda Galvez, Mexico
Re (fill gaps): what gaps would you list/identify?
Dear Amanda Galvez,
Thank you for this interesting information about Mexico's situation (as a Party having to deal with two non-Parties) in the context of the N. American Trilateral Arrangements 2003.
In addition to other reasons, this confirms the necessity of developing separate standards, not simply using existing standards, as stated by Gary C. Martin: it is not due to a lack of understanding (or education and communications).
Yes, it is important to fill the gaps. What gaps would you list/identify here or under Theme 3?
Also, it will be useful to know what the implications are for Mexico of the LCTA and NAEGA contracts that exclude the Pacific ports (see my questions and NAEGA reply here: http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/theme1_art18.shtml?threadid=1136
(edited on 2009-06-05 14:45 UTC by Guna Sutra)
posted on 2009-06-05 02:26 UTC by Guna Sutra
RE: Re (fill gaps): what gaps would you list/identify?
Dear Guna Sutra:
Problems in a region like NAFTA:
Considering that the USA (non-Party) is the main commercial partner of Mexico (Party), I agree very much with the list Mr. Raheef Ademola Usman uploaded of possible gaps (Theme3 possible gaps).
Below you may find a similar listing of gaps, probably now “phrased” from a Latin American/Centre of Origin point of view.
- Lack of “official” information exchange with the region partners: local (national labs) are somehow left alone in their efforts to implement detection methodologies. It would be desirable to find a way for the BCH to set up an information exchange platform within the region including, if possible, National Competent Authorities from Parties, non-Parties and invited governments. This information would include target sequences for developing methods for new commercial events, movements of GMOs harvested I the season and that might be exported, for example.
- Disparities in regulations: such as the no-need to evaluate the safety of stacked transformation events (case of USA) when the national Laws require such an assessment (case of Mexico). The resulting complications for the detection and monitoring of stacked events are evident.
- Considering that many methodologies and systems for monitoring are European, a certain harmonization with USA labs and developers would be interesting. The published methodologies for detection posted in the net by the developers are very useful, but the following gaps are found:
* Free exchange of validated reference materials
* Harmonized detection methodologies is still missing
* Accreditation of local labs: (government, academic or private)
- Lack of information/educational campaigns for teaching the public and consumers
All of the above would be useful for a better understanding and the making of clearer decisions respecting LMOs.
posted on 2009-06-05 21:33 UTC by Dr. Amanda Galvez, Mexico
Re (gaps): what modalities would you propose in Theme 4 (conclusions and recommendations)?
Thank you Amanda Galvez,
For your specific reply and for reminding me to review what Raheef Ademola Usman listed as possible gaps and topics for consideration.
Your reply and his message reiterate the urgency of developing standards specific to the Caratgena Protocol because, as I understand, the existing international standards do not meet all the needs of Parties to address all the provisions of the Protocol.
In fact, this is why paragraph 3 of Article 18 was crafted during the draft protocol negotiations, was it not, even though there was no time left to ascertain the need at that time and to specify the modality for completing the negotiation process.
You and Raheef Ademola Usman seem to have more practical experience at the national and regional levels. Why do you not propose specific conclusions and recommendations under Theme 4 that can provide clear direction to the secretariat on what to do next?
Milena Roudna's suggestion of establishing an Ad-Hoc Working Group might address all other suggestions stated under this Theme 4 (Conclusions and Recommendations). What do you think?
What I have stated under Theme 4 are ideas to stimulate participation and to draw upon (see attached file named Needs and Modalities at http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/theme4_art18.shtml?threadid=1159
) that, in gist, identifies the following:
* Need for standardized methods to test for agbiotech products is multi-faceted.
* Standardization initiatives need to be coordinated.
* Testing methods need to be publicly available.
* Challenges of standardization of methods needs to be addressed.
* Challenges for certified reference materials also need to be addressed.
* Detection methods need to be consistent and valid.
* Differentiate threshold testing for unapproved and approved events.
* Large sample sizes are important and required.
* testing needs to cover the entire supply chain.
* Capacity building needs: scientific; regional cooperation; and relevant policies, guidelines and regulations.
* South-South cooperation needs to be strengthened through creation of an interface organisation
(that is, perhaps, an Ad-Hoc Open-ended Working Group to begin with ?).
What Dennis Stephens and Gary Martin of IGTC reply, probably to my suggestions message, is what could have been avoided if Article 11 had not been proposed and hastily drafted as the last-minute "deal-maker/breaker" to complete the negotiations and, at least, adopt a protocol on biosafety.
I hope that you will have time to propose some conclusions and recommendations under Theme 4.
(edited on 2009-06-08 15:45 UTC by Ms. Kathryn Garforth)
posted on 2009-06-05 23:45 UTC by Guna Sutra