Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Jamaica vulnerable to bio threats

Published:Saturday | October 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Jamaica became party to the Convention on Biological Diversity on January 6, 1995. We signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on June 4, 2001, and ratified the protocol 11 years after on September 25, 2012.

As far as I am aware, Jamaica has not yet signed the Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress.

After all this time, Jamaica is still without a biosafety policy in a world where new technologies are impacting our people, animals and the environment in unbelievable ways. These technologies are being introduced in products without guarantees that they are properly tested or safety assessed.

We now have genetically modified corn, soya and processed foods, drinks, baby formulas, plants, seeds, animals, mosquitoes, moths, bees, and other insects, trees, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, chimera and other various combinations of organisms.

More than 170 countries have been meeting and hammering out agreements on structures and procedures on how to treat with modern biotechnology applications such as living modified organisms (LMO)/genetically modified organisms (GMO). This is because these nations recognise the potential for extreme danger to human and animal life, biodiversity and the environment.

NOT ENOUGH BEING DONE

Not having a biosafety policy is a policy in and of itself, because it means that all the necessary capacities and structures to be developed, the integral role of education and public participation in the decision making, the comprehensive biosafety procedures to be developed and refined to protect human health and the environment, risk assessment, are not being sufficiently done.

Organisations so inclined and aware that we have no biosafety policy will not be constrained in releasing LMO/GMO in our airspace, through our ports, without the prior informed agreement that is a requirement.

Under the current circumstances, our ability to invoke the Precautionary Principle is nonexistent. Without the required legislation, biosafety offences will not be identified, liability not determined, and redress not enacted.

CARLTON STEWART

stewart.carlton@gmail.com

Spanish Town