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GMOs

The Aarhus Convention’s GMO amendment 

Through decision II/1 adopted at its second session (Almaty, 25-27 May 2005), the Meeting of the Parties adopted an amendment to the Convention on genetically modified organisms. For the text of the amendment see here.

The amendment will enter into force when it has been ratified by at least three fourth of the Parties that were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted. That is, it must be ratified by 27 of the 35 Parties that were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted. As of today, the amendment has been ratified by 31 Parties, 25 of which were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted and thus count towards its entry into force. This means a further 2 ratifications are required from those Parties who were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted in order for the amendment to enter into force. The following Parties were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted but are yet to ratify the amendment: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

Upon its entry into force, the GMO amendment will apply to all those Parties which have by that time become party to it. To see whether a particular country has ratified or acceded to the amendment, see here.

Key guidance material related to GMO matters are listed below and are available through this web page

Lucca Guidelines on GMOs

At its first session (Lucca, 21-23 October 2002), the Meeting of the Parties adopted  guidelines on access to information,  public participation and access to justice with respect to genetically modified organisms. The guidelines are often referred to as the "Lucca Guidelines" (see ENG FRE RUS).

Collaboration with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

In decision II/1 adopting the GMO amendment, the Parties to the Aarhus Convention recognised the need to cooperate with other international organizations and forums, in particular the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with a view to maximizing synergy and avoiding duplication of effort, including through encouraging the exchange of information and collaboration between the respective secretariats.

Checklist of key measures for ratification and implementation

The Aarhus Convention and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety secretariats had established a strong collaborative relationship in recent years, undertaking a number of successful joint activities at the international level. They have developed recently a checklist of key measures to assist Parties in ratifying and implementing the Aarhus Convention and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in the context of living modified (LMOs)/genetically modified (GMOs) organisms. All interested Governments and stakeholders were invited to submit their comments through the two rounds of consultations held in 2014-2015. The finalised checklist, taking into account the comments received, is available to Parties to both instruments and stakeholders for their information and use: En Ru

Summary of tools and resources to support implementation

In addition, the two secretariats prepared a note that describes different tools and resources for the provision of technical assistance to support implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Aarhus Convention in the context of LMOs)/GMOs. The document offers a useful source of information for Governments and different stakeholders: En Ru

The Checklist and the Note have been prepared pursuant to the conclusions of the joint Aarhus Convention/CBD round table held in October 2013. Both papers are intended to assist Parties to identify possible steps it might take to most efficiently ratify and implement the two instruments in the context of LMOs/GMOs.

Recent and upcoming events on GMOs

In keeping with the above, the Aarhus Convention has undertaken a number of joint activities with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addressing access to information and public participation with respect to GMOs.

The two secretariats are jointly organizing in Geneva the third Global Round Table on LMOs/GMOs on 16-18 December 2019

The previous two global round tables on LMOs/GMOs were held in Geneva  on 15-17 November 2016 and on 16 and 17 October 2013. The roundtables featured expert presentations and sharing of experiences and lessons learned, regarding:

  • Key issues of concern for Parties and stakeholders with respect to access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice regarding LMOs/GMOs
  • Obstacles and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Aarhus Convention's Almaty Amendment on GMOs and the Lucca Guidelines on GMOs, and Article 23 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as well as good practices and innovative tools to address them
  • Opportunities for cooperation and capacity building
  • Priorities for future work

The outcomes of the roundtables were submitted to the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and to the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The outcomes are expected to facilitate implementation of the Aarhus Convention’s Almaty Amendment on GMOs and the Cartagena Protocol's programme of work on public awareness, education and participation concerning LMOs.

The previous events included the organization of two joint workshops, the International workshop on public awareness, access to information and public participation regarding living/genetically modified organisms (Nagoya, 8-9 October 2010) and International workshop on access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding GMOs (Cologne, 19-20 May 2008).

 

Former bodies

Prior to its adoption at the second session of the Meeting of the Parties, the draft GMO amendment was prepared by a Working Group on GMOs, led by Austria. For more about the former Working Group on GMOs, see here.