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Transit and Contained Use

Article 6 of the Protocol outlines provisions regarding exemptions from the advance informed agreement procedure as it applies to living modified organisms that are in transit and those that are destined for contained use.


Living Modified Organisms in Transit

Article 6, paragraph 1, of the Protocol provides that, notwithstanding the scope of the Protocol and without prejudice to any right of a Party of transit to regulate the transport of living modified organisms through its territory and make available to the Biosafety Clearing-House, any decision of that Party, subject to Article 2, paragraph 3, regarding the transit through its territory of a specific living modified organism, the provisions of the Protocol with respect to the advance informed agreement procedure shall not apply to the transboundary movement of living modified organisms in transit.

What has been done on Transit

Discussions on the rights and obligations of transit States were first taken up by the COP-MOP in their second and third meetings. At their second meeting the Parties considered a way forward based on information submitted by Parties, other Governments and relevant organisations. In their decision BS-II/14, the COP-MOP invited Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations to submit additional views clarifying the rights and/or obligations of transit States, particularly related to documentation, for consideration by the third meeting of the COP-MOP.

In considering the views submitted by the Parties, in its decision BS-III/16, the third meeting of the COP-MOP further invited Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations to provide views and information on experience on the rights and/or obligations of Parties of transit of living modified organisms, for consideration at its fifth meeting.

At their fifth meeting, in decision BS-V/10, Parties took note of the views expressed and the discussions held in relation to the rights and/or obligations of Parties of transit of living modified organisms at its second and third meetings and considered the absence of new submissions of views or information from Parties to the Protocol on this item. They decided to consider this item at their eighth meeting while encouraging Parties to continue addressing issues related to the transit of living modified organisms through their territories using their domestic administrative and legal systems.

The fifth meeting of the COP-MOP also adopted decision BS-V/16 containing a Strategic Plan for implementation of the Protocol for the period 2011-2020. LMOs in transit was addressed in the Strategic Plan under Operational Objective 1.8. Parties agreed to develop tools and guidance to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol's provisions on, among others, transit and contained use. A programme of work for the period 2012-2016 was annexed to the decision adopting the Strategic Plan. Parties included the need to review the status of implementation of the provisions of the Protocol or any decision by Parties related to the transit of living modified organisms, in the programme of work for the eighth meeting of the Parties.

At its eighth meeting, in decision BS-VIII/17, the COP-MOP encouraged Parties and invited other Governments to make available to the Biosafety Clearing-House their laws, regulations and guidelines regarding contained use and transit of living modified organisms, while noting the limited number of final decisions related to transit and contained use that have been made available to the Biosafety Clearing-House. The COP-MOP also encouraged Parties to further develop measures to manage living modified organisms in transit and to make available in the Biosafety Clearing-House information on such measures.


Living Modified Organisms Destined for Contained Use

For the purposes of the Protocol, Article 3(b) states that “‘use’ means any operation, undertaken within a facility, installation or other physical structure, which involves living modified organisms that are controlled by specific measures that effectively limit their contact with, and their impact on, the external environment”.

Article 6, paragraph 2, of the Protocol further provides that, notwithstanding the scope of the Protocol and without prejudice to any right of a Party to subject all living modified organisms to risk assessment prior to decisions on import and to set standards for contained use within its jurisdiction, the provisions of the Protocol with respect to the advance informed agreement procedure shall not apply to the transboundary movement of living modified organisms destined for contained use undertaken in accordance with the standards of the Party of import.

What has been done on Contained Use

The fifth meeting of the COP-MOP adopted decision BS-V/16 containing a Strategic Plan for implementation of the Protocol for the period 2011-2020. Contained use of living modified organisms was addressed in the Strategic Plan under Operational Objective 1.8. Parties agreed to develop tools and guidance to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol's provisions on, among others, transit and contained use.

A programme of work for the period 2012-2016 was also adopted in the same decision. In the programme of work, Parties decided to consider the contained use of living modified organisms at their seventh meeting.

At their seventh meeting the COP-MOP took up the item on contained use and, in their decision BS-VII/4, invited Parties and other Governments to submit to the Executive Secretary information, tools, practical experience and guidance related to their existing mechanisms and requirements relating to the contained use of living modified organisms, including any specific requirement relating to the type and level of containment. The Parties decided to consider, at its eighth meeting, the gaps and needs identified by Parties, if any, with a view to facilitating the implementation of the Protocol’s provisions on contained use of living modified organisms, taking into account the information provided through their submissions.

At its eighth meeting, in decision BS-VIII/17, the COP-MOP encouraged Parties and invited other Governments to make available to the BCH their laws, regulations and guidelines regarding contained use and transit of LMOs. The COP-MOP also noted the lack of clarity regarding the type of information that is to be submitted to the BCH when final decisions are taken regarding the importation of LMOs destined for contained use and requested the Compliance Committee to assess if information that has been submitted to the BCH under contained use is in accordance with Article 6 of the Cartagena Protocol, and make a recommendation in this regard for consideration by the COP-MOP at its ninth meeting. The COP-MOP also invited Parties and other Governments, in the context of operational objective 1.8 of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for the period 2011-2020, to submit to the BCH practical guidance on specific measures for contained use that effectively limit the contact of LMOs with, and their impact on, the external environment and requested the Executive Secretary to compile the information submitted for the consideration of the COP-MOP at its ninth meeting with a view to identifying areas where activities might be needed to support Parties in their efforts to develop national measures on contained use.

Taking note of the assessment by the Compliance Committee of information submitted to the Biosafety Clearing-House as decisions on contained use, the COP-MOP, at its ninth meeting, in decision CP-9/12, reminded parties of the definition of contained use, as provided in Article 3(b) of the Protocol, and reminded Parties that intentional introduction into the environment can include introduction both for experimental or for commercial purposes. It also reminded Parties that a field trial, confined field trial or experimental introduction is to be regarded as intentional introduction into the environment when the conditions specified in Article 3(b) of the Protocol are not met. It furthermore reminded Parties of their obligation under Article 20, paragraph 3(d) and encourages other Governments to publish in the Biosafety Clearing-House their final decisions regarding the importation or release of living modified organisms.