United Nations Protocol for Genetically Altered Food

The United Nations Biosafety Protocol for Genetically Modified organisms is intended to protect biological diversity from risk, caused by genetic modifications in contemporary biotechnology.

It clarifies that modern technology should take into account definite principles and act so that developing countries preserve their nations’ health, but not just profit from making genetically modified products. These products are called “genetically modified organisms” in the Protocol. What is more, its article four states that it is necessary to “apply to the transponder movement, transit, handling and use of all living modified organisms that may have adverse effects”(Article 4).

In accordance with the Biosafety Protocol, every product should be scientifically checked if it is safe and is not modified. It is also stated that living modified organisms may have negative effects on the preservation and ecologically safe usage of biological diversity, it may even cause human health problems and illnesses (Article 1).

According to the Protocol’s terminology, it is defined that “living modified organism means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology”(Article 3), and by “modern technology” they mean “in vitro nucleic acid techniques and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles”(Article 3). According to the precautionary principle, which lays in the basis of the Biosafety Protocol, its goal is to create and ensure necessary protection in terms of treating living modified organisms and conserving them in a way they do no harm to health or environment, as it is stated in the objective.

The Protocol does not include sufficient scientific evidence of the potential harmful effect of the modified products; it states the necessity of studying their impact on biodiversity, ways of their transporting and use, considers the matters of export and import. The Biosafety Protocol defines the rational risk assessment of the modified organisms.

For instance, the Party of Import may apply the precautionary approach not to risk.

The Protocol also sets up a goal to exchange data, cooperate in financial affairs and in favor of raising overall awareness of the problem considered in the Biosafety Protocol. Living modified organisms may be referred to as modified food a large amount of which is intended for domestic animal feeding. As the Biosafety Protocol set up a Biosafety Clearing-House, the essential function of which is to provide data and experience as well as some help to carry out the points stated in the Protocol’s articles as well as in its Objective. In the year 2003 Europe endorsed the UN Protocol, which controls import and export of genetically modified food. It has powers to prohibit modified products import in to the country if some danger of it is felt.

Arnaldo Ventura considers that the Protocol is losing its timeliness, states: “there has been no evidence that GM organisms cause serious ill effects on humans”(Ventura 7).

In the year 2000 the Protocol was adopted by more than 130 countries, and finally came into force after text negotiations. Though it sets up a process for taking into consideration more detailed identification and documentation of LMO commodities, but it does not fully address food safety problems, does not oblige consumer product labeling (U. S. Department of State).

The role of the Biosafety Protocol is significant for the time it was adopted, and the goals set in the Biosafety Protocol are reasonable. Hence, opinions on its ratification are various and rather controversial.

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