The USDA Guidelines for Transgenic Shipments

The USDA Guidelines for Transgenic Shipments

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By Ana Lucía Bravo

The United States Department of Agriculture -USDA- has issued a series of guidelines, theoretically, to comply with the requirements of the Biosafety Protocol in shipments of food aid that contain living modified organisms destined for food, feed and processing.

The USDA Guidelines for Food Aid Shipments Containing Transgens

The United States Department of Agriculture -USDA- has issued a series of guidelines, theoretically, to comply with the requirements of the Biosafety Protocol in shipments of food aid that contain living modified organisms destined for food, feed and processing.

These guides are related to the provisions of article 18 (2) a of the Biosafety Protocol. This article requires that shipments of transgenic organisms destined for food, feed and processing be accompanied by documentation that clearly identifies that this shipment "may contain ovm's", that said organisms are not destined to be introduced into the environment, and that have details on a point of contact for more information.

According to the USDA, these requirements must be met because the omission of this documentation may delay or block shipments at Ports or other reception points.

To facilitate the fulfillment of these obligations, it suggests to its partners in the food aid programs to take the following steps:

1) Determine if destination or transit countries are Party to the Protocol

2) Determine if the recipient country has specific regulations on the documentation required for shipments of transgenic organisms destined for food, feed or processing. Many countries are currently developing regulatory frameworks for the implementation of the Protocol. He advises that if exporters are not familiar with these provisions, they should ask the US embassies in the receiving countries about the subject, as they have the obligation to familiarize themselves with everything that concerns the subject. On the other hand, it suggests reviewing the Biosafety Information Exchange Mechanism, since Party countries must publish in this system all the information related to their legislation on gmo's.

If the receiving country does not have any regulation on the requirements of the Protocol and is a Party country, the phrase "may contain ovm's" must be included in the commercial invoice. It is suggested to include the following text: "Requirement of the Cartagena Protocol: The shipment may contain living modified organisms intended for direct use as food, feed or processing. They are not intended to be intentionally introduced into the environment."

The commercial invoice should also indicate the last exporter before the cross-border movement and the first importer after the cross-border movement as points of contact for further information. According to USAID on food aid shipments, the last registered exporter may be the World Food Program, a voluntary organization, or USAID. The first import record can be any of the aforementioned entities as the last exporter or the receiving country.

3) All shipments containing whole grains of genetically modified varieties that have been approved and grown in the United States must be accompanied by the indicated documentation. At this time, compliance with these regulations, according to the USDA, should apply only to US shipments of soybeans and grain corn, since processed products such as soybean oil or soybean meal-corn mixtures are not considered within the scope of the Protocol.

4) The adventitious or accidental presence (for example, presence of transgenic corn in a shipment of sorghum) must not meet the requirements of Article 18 of the Cartagena Protocol.

It is ironic that the United States wants to show itself as a country that complies with the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol. This is another mechanism used to legalize and endorse their practices of sending food aid to place agricultural surpluses, open new markets, and intentionally contaminate our countries with transgenic products.

They intend to comply with the requirements of the Protocol, with the inclusion of a phrase in commercial receipts, ignoring the spirit of the Protocol and specifically Article 11 that establishes a clear procedure in relation to the transboundary movement of transgenic organisms destined for food, feed or processing. .

The inclusion of the phrase "may contain" in a commercial receipt is a mockery of what was discussed at the First Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, in Kuala Lumpur last February. Where the countries were urged to include in the documentation the common, scientific and commercial name of the LMO, the code of the transformation event or unique identifier in order to clearly establish the identity of the LMO and any other identification. Furthermore, a group of experts was established to establish in detail the identification requirements of LMOs under this category. The group is due to present a report at the next meeting of the Parties in 2005.

On the other hand, what is suggested by the USDA does not take into account that living modified organisms destined for food, feed or processing must be subjected to a simplified approval process, indicated in Article 11 of the Protocol that requires at least detailed information in Annex II of the Protocol that includes among other things: The name and identity of the living modified organism, The description of the gene modification, the technique used and the resulting characteristics of the living modified organism, Any unique identification of the living modified organism, The taxonomic status, the common name, the place of collection or acquisition and the characteristics of the recipient organism or parental organisms that are related to biosafety. Centers of origin and centers of genetic diversity, if known, of the recipient organism and / or parental organisms and description of the habitats in which the organisms may persist or proliferate. The taxonomic status, common name, place of collection or acquisition, and characteristics of the donor organism or organisms that are related to biosafety. Approved uses of the living modified organism. A report on the risk assessment according to Annex III. Suggested methods for safe handling, storage, transport and use, including packaging, labeling, documentation, disposal procedures and in case of emergency, as appropriate.

It also indicates that if a country does not have national regulations on the subject, it must at least comply with a risk assessment, according to Annex 3 of the Protocol.

In accordance with the spirit of the Protocol, the same article recognizes that the lack of scientific evidence on adverse damages will not be a limitation to make a decision to minimize the risks and dangers of ovms: The fact that there is no scientific certainty by Lack of sufficient relevant information and knowledge on the magnitude of possible adverse effects of a living modified organism on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the Party of import, also taking into account risks to human health, shall not prevent that Party, in order to avoid or minimize such potential adverse effects, make a decision, as appropriate, regarding the importation of that living modified organism intended for direct use as food or feed or for processing

Finally, USAID is unaware that the Cartagena Protocol recognizes that each state can establish stricter protection standards in defense of biodiversity, the environment, and human health, including prohibitions or moratoriums.

States have the sovereign right to decide whether or not they want GMOs, so far there have already been many countries that have expressed their opposition to GMOs in general and in particular in food aid programs, including express requests that they be eliminated.

This is a clear sign that the countries receiving food aid know their rights and exercise them, through resistance, the continuous rejection of transgenic shipments. Even when the United States tries to comply with the requirements of the Protocol to cover up its already well-known food aid policy, there is no disguise, lies, or good intentions that can silence and restrict that right.

Source: Guidance for meeting documentation requirements for shipments of LMO’s for Food, Feed or for Processing under de Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

* Transgenics Campaign
Ecological Action

Video: Gene Delivery Systems for Gene Therapy - Creative Biolabs (July 2022).


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