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Discussion Group 1

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Scope of Article 23 and the right on the part of the public to information [#3453]
Article 23(1)(b) links public access to information to public awareness, participation and education.  In other words, in the course of the Parties discharging their obligations under Article 23(1) to promote, facilitate public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling, and use of LMOs in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking also into account the risks to human health, the Parties must ensure that public awareness, education and participation also encompass access to information on LMOs that may be imported.

The question that arises is, does this include the labelling of LMOs for the purposes of public use?  GM whole grains for instance? To what extent therefore, does Article 23 dealing with the scope of public access to information interface with the labelling of GMOs for the purposes of public awareness and education, over and above the provisions of Article 18 of the Protocol? The labelling of LMOs (leaving aside products of LMOs) serves an important function of providing the public with information. However, its value also lies in its biosafety function regarding traceability of LMOs from farm to plate, risk management and monitoring, product recall in the event of anything going wrong, and concomitant issues of liability and redress.
posted on 2012-06-05 10:26 UTC by Mariam Mayet
RE: Scope of Article 23 and the right on the part of the public to information [#3516]
Posted on behalf of Prof. Behzad Ghareyazie, Iran (Islamic Republic of):

Greetings to every one!
According to paragraph 1-b of article 23, parties should ensure that public awareness and education encompass access to information on LMOs identified in accordance with this Protocol that may be imported.
Labeling cannot serve this purpose for several reasons; 1) only LMOs are in the scope of the protocol and not the end products such as edible vegetable oil or maize flour that are used by the public.
LMOs are usually processed prior to consumption. Therefore it is almost impossible to label the raw material (LMO) such as maize or soybean grains.
Labeling in the protocol is restricted to the trans boundary movement of LMOs and is intented to the regulatory authorities and not the public.
There are other means in place to ensure that the public will have access to information on LMOs that may be imported. These include such as BCH. The parties should therefore facilitate to the extent possible the public access to BCH and to use it to access to information on all potentially importable LMOs. Access to BCH and efficient use of the information in it should therefore be included in public awareness and education programs.
posted on 2012-06-11 13:52 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety