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6-Regulation Indonesian House of Representative discusses CartagenaProtocol ratification

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  House discusses new genetic protocol
SOURCE: Jakarta Post, Indonesia, by Kurniawan Hari
DATE:   7 Jul 2004 

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House discusses new genetic protocol

Ratifying an international biological diversity protocol would help
protect the country from the negative effects of making and using
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), environmental activists said.

The activists met with members of the House of Representative's
commission I on foreign affairs on Tuesday to discuss ratifying the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The commission has also met with
scientists and businesses about the protocol.

Adopted in Montreal, Canada, in 2000, the protocol is an add-on measure
to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. In 1994, Indonesia
passed Law No.5/1994 on Biological Diversity to ratify the convention.
Legislators passed the law to ensure the country did not become a
laboratory for GMO research by foreign interests.

Biodiversity Foundation (Kehati) director Ismid Hadad said the Cartagena
Protocol had clear guidelines for the creation of GMOs.

"The ratification of the protocol is important for us," he told
legislators in the commission on Tuesday.

Tejo Wahyu Jatmiko from the National Consortium for Indonesia's Forest
and Natural Conservation (Konphalindo) said environmental organizations
backed the ratification.

"We have been waiting (for this) for four years," he said.

The protocol sets out guidelines to ensure an adequate level of
protection for the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified
organisms, which may have adverse effects on the conservation and
sustainable use of biological diversity resources. It takes into account
the risks to human health and specifically focuses on the international
movement of GMOs.

The most important aspect in the Cartagena Protocol is the adoption of
the "precautionary principle", which anticipates scientific uncertainty
in the making of GMOs.

The Cartagena Protocol mandates the need for risk assessment and risk
management procedures before organisms can be genetically modified.

After the government ratified the protocol, it would have to consult with
the public to formulate regulations on the treatment of GMOs, Tejo said.

The government also needed to strengthen the agencies that would be
involved in regulating GMO research and use, he said.

This would need to be done at both national and regional levels, he said.


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