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SBSTTA 4 Recommendations

SBSTTA 4 Recommendation IV/5
Retired sections:

Consequences of the use of the new technology for the control of plant gene expression for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice,

Noting that, based on expert opinion, products incorporating either variety-specific genetic use restriction technologies (V-GURTs) or trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies (T-GURTs), as defined in the annex to the note by the Executive Secretary on the consequences of the use of the new technology for the control of plant gene expression for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4/9/Rev.1), are not likely to be commercialized in the near future and that at this time no example of this technology has been released in either research or investigative field trials, resulting in a lack of information,

Noting that many countries already have policy or regulatory frameworks in place, or under development, to address the use of new technologies, but that many countries do not,

Acknowledging that this situation makes necessary adequate and thorough research and studies to assess, inter alia, on a case-by-case basis, the potential implications of genetic use restriction technologies and to put in place the required procedures to anticipate and prevent or mitigate any potential negative impacts,

Recognizing that genetic use restriction technologies are a form of new technologies that will be developed and it is necessary to reflect seriously on the policies associated with their emergence and to place more weight on the environmental and global implications of the development of technologies so that those technologies meet the needs of growing rural and urban populations, while satisfying long-term sustainability needs and social and ethical requirements,

Noting the need for holistic approaches that revalidate ecological principles and practices of agricultural production, reduced chemical dependence and maintained biological diversity,

Recognizing that organisms engineered by variety-specific and trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies are living modified organisms and that these two applications could have significantly different impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity,

Recognizing that any Party or Government may, subject to any applicable national laws, choose, having regard to Article 22 of the Convention, to take legislative, administrative or policy measures as appropriate, to establish a moratorium in its country on field-testing and the commercial use of genetic use restriction technologies,

Stressing that all work in this area should be conducted in accordance with the precautionary approach, as formulated in the ninth preambular paragraph of the Convention on Biological Diversity,

Recommends that the Conference of the Parties:

At the international level

(a) Continue the work in this area under the umbrella of, and integrated into, the programme of work on agricultural biological diversity;

(b) Desiring to make the most efficient use of resources by avoiding duplication of effort and being cognizant of the work being undertaken and the expertise available in different forums, in particular, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, invite the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in close collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and other member organizations of the Ecosystem Conservation Group (ECG), and other competent organizations and research bodies, to further study the potential implications of such technologies on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity and the range of agricultural production systems in different countries, and identify relevant policy questions and socio-economic issues that may need to be addressed;

(c) Invite the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and other competent organizations to inform the Conference of the Parties at its sixth meeting of its initiatives in this area;

(d) Recognizing the need to better understand the intellectual-property-rights implications of genetic use restriction technologies, invite relevant organizations to study the impact of technologies on the protection of intellectual property in the agriculture sector, and its appropriateness for the agricultural sector, and to make assessments of the technologies concerned available through the clearing-house mechanism;

(e)Recommend that, in the current absence of reliable data on genetic use restriction technologies without which there is an inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks, and in accordance with the precautionary approach, products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated. In order to enhance the capacity of all countries to address these issues, Parties should widely disseminate information on scientific assessments, including through the clearing-house mechanism, and share their expertise in this regard.

At the national level

(f) Encourage Parties and Governments to consider how to address generic concerns regarding such technologies as genetic use restriction technologies under international and national approaches to the safe and sustainable use of germplasm;

(g) Reaffirming the need of Parties and Governments for additional information, and recalling Article 8(g) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which calls on Parties and Governments to establish or maintain procedures for regulating, managing or controlling risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology, invite Parties to carry out and disseminate the results through the clearing-house mechanism and submit scientific assessments on, inter alia, ecological, social and economic effects of genetic use restriction technologies taking into account such information, as available, as:

(i) The molecular biology information available;

(ii) The genetic constructs and inducers used;

(iii) Effects at the molecular level, such as site-specific effects, gene-silencing, epigenesis and recombination;

(iv) Potential positive applications of the variety-specific genetic use restriction technologies on limiting gene flow, and possible negative impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on small populations of threatened wild relatives;

and to make these assessments available through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism;

(h) Further encourage Parties and Governments to identify ways and means to address the potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on the in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use, including food security, of agricultural biological diversity;

(i) Urge Parties and Governments to assess whether there is a need to develop, and how to ensure the application of, effective regulations at national level which take into account, inter alia, the specific nature of variety-specific and trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies, in order to ensure the safety of human health,the environment, food security and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and to make this information available through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism;

Secretariat

(j) Request the Executive Secretary to prepare a report, to be considered by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at a future meeting prior to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, on the status of development of genetic use restriction technologies and of relevant initiatives at international, regional and national levels on the basis of information provided by organizations, Parties and Governments;

(k) Recognizing the importance of indigenous and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources according to Article 8(j) of the Convention, and taking into account the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, request the Executive Secretary to discuss with those organizations with relevant expertise and representatives of indigenous and local communities on the potential impacts of the application of genetic use restriction technologies on those communities and on Farmers' Rights in keeping with the revision of the aforementioned International Undertaking to keep, use, exchange and sell seed or propagating material and to prepare a report to be considered by the Conference of the Parties.

Consequences of the use of the new technology for the control of plant gene expression for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice,

Noting that, based on expert opinion, products incorporating either variety-specific genetic use restriction technologies (V-GURTs) or trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies (T-GURTs), as defined in the annex to the note by the Executive Secretary on the consequences of the use of the new technology for the control of plant gene expression for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4/9/Rev.1), are not likely to be commercialized in the near future and that at this time no example of this technology has been released in either research or investigative field trials, resulting in a lack of information,

Noting that many countries already have policy or regulatory frameworks in place, or under development, to address the use of new technologies, but that many countries do not,

Acknowledging that this situation makes necessary adequate and thorough research and studies to assess, inter alia, on a case-by-case basis, the potential implications of genetic use restriction technologies and to put in place the required procedures to anticipate and prevent or mitigate any potential negative impacts,

Recognizing that genetic use restriction technologies are a form of new technologies that will be developed and it is necessary to reflect seriously on the policies associated with their emergence and to place more weight on the environmental and global implications of the development of technologies so that those technologies meet the needs of growing rural and urban populations, while satisfying long-term sustainability needs and social and ethical requirements,

Noting the need for holistic approaches that revalidate ecological principles and practices of agricultural production, reduced chemical dependence and maintained biological diversity,

Recognizing that organisms engineered by variety-specific and trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies are living modified organisms and that these two applications could have significantly different impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity,

Recognizing that any Party or Government may, subject to any applicable national laws, choose, having regard to Article 22 of the Convention, to take legislative, administrative or policy measures as appropriate, to establish a moratorium in its country on field-testing and the commercial use of genetic use restriction technologies,

Stressing that all work in this area should be conducted in accordance with the precautionary approach, as formulated in the ninth preambular paragraph of the Convention on Biological Diversity,

Recommends that the Conference of the Parties:

At the international level

(a) Continue the work in this area under the umbrella of, and integrated into, the programme of work on agricultural biological diversity;

(b) Desiring to make the most efficient use of resources by avoiding duplication of effort and being cognizant of the work being undertaken and the expertise available in different forums, in particular, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, invite the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in close collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and other member organizations of the Ecosystem Conservation Group (ECG), and other competent organizations and research bodies, to further study the potential implications of such technologies on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity and the range of agricultural production systems in different countries, and identify relevant policy questions and socio-economic issues that may need to be addressed;

(c) Invite the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and other competent organizations to inform the Conference of the Parties at its sixth meeting of its initiatives in this area;

(d) Recognizing the need to better understand the intellectual-property-rights implications of genetic use restriction technologies, invite relevant organizations to study the impact of technologies on the protection of intellectual property in the agriculture sector, and its appropriateness for the agricultural sector, and to make assessments of the technologies concerned available through the clearing-house mechanism;

(e)Recommend that, in the current absence of reliable data on genetic use restriction technologies without which there is an inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks, and in accordance with the precautionary approach, products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated. In order to enhance the capacity of all countries to address these issues, Parties should widely disseminate information on scientific assessments, including through the clearing-house mechanism, and share their expertise in this regard.

At the national level

(f) Encourage Parties and Governments to consider how to address generic concerns regarding such technologies as genetic use restriction technologies under international and national approaches to the safe and sustainable use of germplasm;

(g) Reaffirming the need of Parties and Governments for additional information, and recalling Article 8(g) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which calls on Parties and Governments to establish or maintain procedures for regulating, managing or controlling risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology, invite Parties to carry out and disseminate the results through the clearing-house mechanism and submit scientific assessments on, inter alia, ecological, social and economic effects of genetic use restriction technologies taking into account such information, as available, as:

(i) The molecular biology information available;

(ii) The genetic constructs and inducers used;

(iii) Effects at the molecular level, such as site-specific effects, gene-silencing, epigenesis and recombination;

(iv) Potential positive applications of the variety-specific genetic use restriction technologies on limiting gene flow, and possible negative impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on small populations of threatened wild relatives;

and to make these assessments available through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism;

(h) Further encourage Parties and Governments to identify ways and means to address the potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on the in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use, including food security, of agricultural biological diversity;

(i) Urge Parties and Governments to assess whether there is a need to develop, and how to ensure the application of, effective regulations at national level which take into account, inter alia, the specific nature of variety-specific and trait-specific genetic use restriction technologies, in order to ensure the safety of human health,the environment, food security and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and to make this information available through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism;

Secretariat

(j) Request the Executive Secretary to prepare a report, to be considered by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at a future meeting prior to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, on the status of development of genetic use restriction technologies and of relevant initiatives at international, regional and national levels on the basis of information provided by organizations, Parties and Governments;

(k) Recognizing the importance of indigenous and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources according to Article 8(j) of the Convention, and taking into account the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, request the Executive Secretary to discuss with those organizations with relevant expertise and representatives of indigenous and local communities on the potential impacts of the application of genetic use restriction technologies on those communities and on Farmers' Rights in keeping with the revision of the aforementioned International Undertaking to keep, use, exchange and sell seed or propagating material and to prepare a report to be considered by the Conference of the Parties.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme