National biosafety consultation a success

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National biosafety consultation a success

Saint Lucia is much closer to having appropriate legislation that regulates the import, use and transport of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) following a successful national consultation on the proposed Biosafety Bill.

The consultation was held yesterday and received support from a broad cross section of society including representatives of faith-based organisations, supermarket retailers, farmers, health care practitioners, educators, scientists, environmentalists and government officials, a statement from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science & Technology said.

Participants reviewed government’s policy on biosafety and the draft legislation with a view to exchanging ideas and providing recommendations to help ensure that Saint Lucia has strong biosafety legislation.

“Such a consultative process is vital in light of the importance of biosafety and the increasing use of modern biotechnology in development and trade,” the statement said.

“Biotechnology has important implications for St Lucia’s biological diversity, national food security, human health, trade and sustainable economic development.”

The proposed bill seeks to ensure guidelines, which allow for Saint Lucia to capitalise on the use of modern biotechnology in a manner that does not compromise the environment and human health.

It forms part of St Lucia’s National Biosafety Implementation Project, which is funded by the United Nations Global Environment Fund.

Saint Lucia is among 11 Caribbean countries currently seeking to enact such legislation as part of a regional project.

The development and implementation of the Biosafety Bill is also a critical requirement for Saint Lucia as a signatory to various international conventions including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Following yesterday’s successful consultation, the final draft of the legislation will be drafted and discussed with stakeholders for onward transmission to Parliament for enactment.

It is expected that the final draft will be ready by the end of November this year.

Interested individuals are still being encouraged to read the Biosafety bill, Biosafety policy and Biosafety regulations which are available on the Government of Saint Lucia’s website www.stlucia.gov.lc and on www.lc.biosafetyclearinghouse.net.

The documents are also available at all public libraries around the island.

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