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6-Regulation: Sri Lanka drafting GMO laws

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TITLE:  Regulations to control genetically modified food and organisms soon
SOURCE: Daily News, Sri Lanka, by Florence Wickramage

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Regulations to control genetically modified food and organisms soon

Environment and Natural Resources Minister A.H.M.Fowzie yesterday
stressed the importance of introducing a Regulatory System to control the
inflow of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Genetically Modified
Food (GMFs) to the country. He said that action is now being taken to
introduce new laws for this purpose.

Addressing a workshop on Bio-safety, held at the Auditorium of the Sri
Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo, the Minister cautioned that with
globalisation, genetically modified organisms, food, feed and processed
products including pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals as well as
vaccines, detergents, and agents for waste degradation are being freely
imported to the country. Therefore, he stressed the need for regulatory
system for such imports. The Minister referring to the National Biosafety
Framework Development Project of his Ministry said that Sri Lanka was
obliged to implement articles of the Cartagena Protocol in the form of a
National Biosafety Framework with reference to imports of Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMO), Genetically Modified Food (GMF) and Processed

He emphasised the need to take precautionary measures before importing
and placing GMOs and GMFs on the market in view of the possible health
risks where such unassessed or unexamined imports could pose. "The GMOs
and GMFs are like two sides of the coin where advantages as well as
disadvantages exist," Fowzie said.

Advantages of the GMOs and GMFs are minimal which include resistance by
plants to stress conditions, enhanced nutritional value, pharmaceuticals
including vaccines, animal high growth rate and microorganisms producing
enzymes for many industries and for breakdown of waste. But the
disadvantages are high such as health risks to our people, the
biodiversity, to non-target organisms, to the socio-economic stability of
local farmers, as well as ethical and moral issues including patenting of
biological material including genes.

The Minister added that an institutional set up to assess risks and make
decisions with a mechanism for public participation in the decision-
making process was a very vital need.

Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Secretary
Environment Ministry D. Dissanayake and Prof. Athula Perera National
Project Coordinator also spoke. Director NASTEC Dr. Noble Jayasuriya
delivered the vote of thanks.


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