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In 2004, Saint Lucia began a process to manage and regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and living modified organisms (LMOs) entering our borders.
At the time, very little was known about the full impacts of these organisms which have had their DNA changed so that they display new traits.
Examples of GMOs include plants which are capable of bearing more crops and animals which are resistant to diseases. GMOs and LMOs were being widely traded via the United States, however little was known about the possible side effects and impacts on the environment.
Through a consultative process, Saint Lucia developed a Biosafety Framework which aimed to minimise any negative impacts to the environment from the use of GMOs and LMOS. The framework includes a legislative system (policy, bill and regulations) risk assessment system, administrative system for the handling of requests to use GMOs, laboratory testing facilities and a public feedback mechanism.
From 2012 – 2017, officials from the ministries responsible for health, agriculture, sustainable development, education, and commerce, have worked with consumer groups, faith based organisations and other key stakeholders to implement the Biosafety Framework. One output of this initiative is a policy defining Saint Lucia’s vision for regulating GMOs by issuing licenses for specified classes of GMO use.
On Wednesday May 3, 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers demonstrated its commitment to Biodiversity conservation by announcing the endorsement of the Biosafety Policy and authorised the Attorney General’s Chambers to finalise the Biosafety Bill and Regulations.
These legal instruments will regulate the use and creation of GMOs and LMOs through a licensing system and will solicit background information on persons wishing to use or import GMOs into the country.
The Biosafety bill establishes bodies of technical and scientific experts who will be called upon to review applications, assess the risk, and determine whether the genetically modified product will have any negative impacts on human health and the environment, and if so, how these can be avoided.
The Biosafety regulations assign fines of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) for persons importing, using, creating or transporting a GMO without the required license.
The public will be given a further opportunity to review the Biosafety Bill and Regulations before it is enacted. Copies of the documents can be viewed on lc.biosafetyclearinghouse.net and on the website of the Government at govt.lc. A public consultation will also be held from 9:00 am on July 13, in the Conference Room of the Fisheries Division, Castries.
By enacting the Biosafety legislation, Saint Lucia has signalled its commitment to conserving our unique biological resources so that they continue to contribute to agriculture, tourism, food security, and innovation, for present and future generations. This includes the development of robust laws, fully trained human resources and empowered members of the public who will be active in the decision making process as well as monitoring and enforcement of the law.
For more information on the Biosafety Framework and Legislation please visit lc.biosafetyclearinghouse.net or call 4518746 or email [email protected]