|Article 26 – SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS1. The Parties, in reaching a decision on import under this Protocol or under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol, may take into account, consistent with their international obligations, socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.2. The Parties are encouraged to cooperate on research and information exchange on any socio‑economic impacts of living modified organisms, especially on indigenous and local communities.|
One of the main mechanisms of the CPB is the AIA procedure, which allows Parties that have not yet adopted a domestic regulatory framework for biosafety, to make informed decisions about the import of LMOs for introduction into the environment of that Party. Article 10 stipulates that decisions taken by the Party of import shall be in accordance with Article 15 (risk assessment).
Paragraph 1 of article 26 states: “The Parties, in reaching a decision on import under this Protocol or under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol, may take into account, consistent with their international obligations, socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.”
From the annotated agenda for MOP7 (Item 13)::
The 6th Meeting of the Parties (‘MOP6’):
- established an ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG) to develop conceptual clarity on SECs in the context of paragraph 1 of Article 26;
- requested the Executive Secretary to compile, take stock of and review information on SECs;
- established online discussion groups to facilitate and synthesize the exchange of views, information and experiences on SECs.
For MOP7 the Parties will have before them the report of the meeting of the AHTEG with a view to to deliberate and decide upon further steps for objective 1.7 of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol. (Doc UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/7/11).
Socio-economic considerations (SECs) are of primary importance to the members of PRRI, because it is precisely the anticipated and realised socio-economic benefits of modern biotechnology that makes public researchers dedicate their careers to research in modern biotechnology for the common good.
We should remain mindful that the Convention on Biological Diversity underlines in article 16 that access to and transfer of modern biotechnology are essential elements for the attainment of the objectives of the CBD, and instructs in article 19 that each Party shall promote and advance priority access to the results and benefits arising from biotechnologies, especially for developing countries.
It is for this reason that decision makers should take due account of the potential socio economic benefits in their decision making, and to keep availing themselves of the latest information about the socio-economic impacts of the introduction of this technology. In this context, it is important to take into account: 1) what modern biotechnology can accomplish that cannot be done by conventional breeding, 2) the research that is ongoing to date, and 3) the experiences are of farmers who have grown GM crops
Some interpretations of article 26 suggest that SEC are part of risk assessment, that Article 26 implies an obligation to add additional steps in the approval procedure, or that any SEC would suffice to deny approval of import of LMOs. These are erroneous notions.
Looking at the key elements of this provision:
- “The Parties, in reaching a decision on import” > This provision addresses decision making, not risk assessment. While article 10 stipulates that decisions taken shall be in accordance with article 15 (risk assessment), the decision making step is clearly distinct from the risk assessment.
- “may take into account” > This provision relates to a possibility, not an obligation.
- “consistent with their international obligations” > relevant international obligations can be found in treaties as WTO/SPS as well as policy declarations such as Agenda 21.
- “socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of LMOs on the conservation (etc)…..” > the wording “arising from” makes clear that this provision does not refers to SECs as such, but to SECs arising from the impact of LMOs on the conservation (etc.).
Further, article 26 uses the neutral term “impacts” and not – as in many other articles – to potential adverse effects. The use of the term “impacts” is significant, as it covers both potential benefits and risks.