With the growing existence of Biotechnology, and the fight to mitigate Genetically Modified Organisms, the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholder organisations are embarking on several initiatives to develop greater awareness on this issue.
As part of Grenada’s commitment under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a 2-day training workshop was held at the Grenada Boys Secondary School to highlight Grenada’s obligation to the signed protocol.
This protocol is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport, and use of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) resulting from the modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, which is also a considered risk to human health.
Grenada, being a signatory to that protocol since 2005, along with the 76 other countries, is required to exchange information on biosafety through the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH), by so doing other parties and interested persons can readily access such information.
During the 2-day training held on 18-19 June, Cartagena Protocol Regional Advisor, Fred Phillips engaged participants; thus, underscoring Grenada’s role in ensuring that the obligation under the protocol is kept.
Chief Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and National Focal Point for Biosafety in Grenada, Daniel Lewis, explained Grenada’s involvement in Biosafety, according to the Cartagena Protocol.
He said, “Parties or countries have certain obligations that they have to put in place. Obligations such as putting in the necessary legal and institutional framework, because the existing laws of those countries or parties do not adequately address Genetically Modified Organisms.”
Grenada, having recognised its limitation in this regard, has developed a Draft Biosafety Bill, which is presently with the Ministry of Legal Affairs for perusal.
Once this becomes law, Lewis said, “it would allow for the proper implementation of the protocol so that when people or institutions make requests to bring in GMOs, we would have the proper risk assessment and risk management in place to ensure what is considered to be deleterious on the natural environment and people’s health.”
The BCH training workshop was aimed at equipping participants with the necessary knowledge and skills for accessing information on the Biosafety Clearing House. The use of the BCH is critical in guiding the application process as it provides useful information on the perspective and decisions of other countries.
Cartagena Protocol Regional Advisor, Fred Phillips, explained the importance the BCH has on successful biosafety initiatives. “Once you connect to the Biosafety Clearing House, you will receive information about biosafety; who is doing what, with what Living Modified Organisms and where. You will also learn about the decisions made, where people refused to use them, where they said yes, we would bring them in and the reasons. This information will help you to make your own decision; we need to consider, what should we keep in mind before letting it into our environment,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture views this training exercise as significant in its ongoing efforts to develop awareness on Biotechnology, and in particular Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and appeals to all to play their part in addressing this issue.
The BCH can be accessed on website www.bch.cbd.int.
Ministry of Agriculture