The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is designed to protect biological diversity and human health from the potential risks arising from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by providing a clear legal framework for their cross-border movement, enters into force today [Thursday].

The Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) procedure established by the Protocol is aimed at ensuring that countries can make informed decisions on whether to import GMOs intended for introduction into the environment. Shipments of GMO commodities will have to fulfil specific documentation requirements.

“The Cartagena Protocol establishes one set of basic international rules for dealing with GMOs. It is a fundamental step towards better global governance in the GMO field. This is badly needed to maximise the benefits deriving from biotechnology and minimise the risks for the environment and human health. It will contribute to increasing public confidence in the safe management of GMOs. This Protocol will particularly help developing countries, which often lack the resources to assess the risks of biotechnology and make informed choices about it,” said EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström.

“We call on more countries to ratify and implement the Cartagena Protocol and we urge those who are not in a position to ratify to contribute to the achievement of its objectives on a voluntary basis,” Wallström added.

The Protocol was adopted in January 2000 by the Member Governments of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. 103 Parties have signed the Cartagena Protocol and 57 have ratified it.