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Biosafety

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya–Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress


The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the transboundary movement of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force on 11 September 2003. The Protocol recalls the precautionary approach contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential adverse effects caused by LMOs. It establishes, among other things, an advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure for ensuring that Parties make informed decisions, after having conducted the necessary risk assessments, before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory for introduction into the environment. The Protocol also establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate the exchange of information on LMOs and to assist countries in the implementation of the Protocol.

In 2010, the fifth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety adopted the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The objective of the Supplementary Protocol is to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity by providing international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage resulting from LMOs. It specifies the measures that need to be taken in response to damage resulting from LMOs that find their origin in a transboundary movement.

The successful implementation of the Cartagena Protocol relies upon the active participation of the private sector. In particular, businesses play an important role in capacity-building and the mobilization of resources. With reference to COP-MOP 1 Decision BS-I/5, COP-MOP 2 Decision BS-II/2 and COP-MOP 3 Decision BS-III/3, Parties to the Protocol urged business to:


  • provide technical advice concerning identification, detection and analytical assessment and for monitoring;
  • share information on and experience with LMOs;
  • participate in national and regional efforts to implement the Protocol, the Supplementary Protocol and the Biosafety Clearing-House;
  • providing co-financing for capacity-building activities

The Eighth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, held in Cancun, Mexico from 4- 17 December 2016, continues to reinforce these efforts. (COP-MOP Decision VIII/3, VIII/16 and VIII/18)


Information of particular interest to the business community can be found as follows:

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme