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Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs)

At its fifth meeting, the Conference of the Parties (COP) decided to continue the work on genetic use restriction technologies under the umbrella of, and integrated into, each of the four elements of the programme of work on agricultural biological diversity.

The Conference of the Parties,

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, invites 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, and other competent organizations and research bodies, to further study the potential implications of genetic use restriction technologies for 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;

Invites 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 their initiatives in this area;

Recognizing the need to better understand the intellectual-property-rights implications of genetic use restriction technologies, invites 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;

Recommends 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.

Encourages 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;

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, invites 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:

  1. The molecular biology information available
  2. The genetic constructs and inducers used
  3. Effects at the molecular level, such as site-specific effects gene-silencing, epigenesis and recombination
  4. 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

Further encourages 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;

Urges 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;

Requests 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;

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, requests 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.

Documents:

  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4/9/Rev.1
    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/INF/3
    Supplementary Information
  • Notification 2001-099
    Informal Consultation on the impact on genetic use restriction technologies on indigenous and local communities and Farmers' Rights
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/6
    Report of the ad hoc technical expert group meeting on the potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities and farmers’ rights
  • UNEP/CBD/COP/7/INF/31
    Potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) on agricultural biodiversity and agricultural production systems: report submitted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme