Grain trade participation in governmental meetings on the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol (CBP)

IGTC delegates from Argentina, Europe, South Africa and USA attended the “informal” Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) that took place virtually on 18 and 19 February.

The informal meeting was framed by CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema as an “important step in implementing the work of the Convention”, including the formulation of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The SBSTTA-specific agenda tackled the issues of digital sequencing information; risk assessment and risk management of living modified organisms (LMOs) with engineered gene drives; as well as the concept of synthetic biology.

On the latter topic, IGTC sees the questions resulting from the discussion among the Convention Parties as follows:

  • Is there a robust and generally agreed definition of the concept of synthetic biology?
  • Should synthetic biology be classified as a “new and emerging issue” under the Convention?
  • What is the advantage of CBD Parties engaging in further work on this topic?
  • Is the intention for Parties to establish baselines of biological diversity to be measured against all “new and emerging issues”?

Among the Parties stating their positions at the SBSTTA meeting were the African Regional Group (Ethiopia), Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Central European Group (Belarus), Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, EU, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, NZ, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, and UK.