The Working Group then turned to paragraph 18(b) of Annex I to the report of the Madrid meeting, which identified three non-consensus issues: socioeconomic considerations; liability and compensation; and financial issues.
JAPAN recorded its objection to including these issues in a protocol, recalling the terms of reference of the Group to negotiate a protocol with as many ratifications as possible. He suggested another forum for these issues. The Chair emphasized that this was a discussion, not a negotiation.
SOCIOECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS: MALAYSIA underscored the socioeconomic impacts of biotechnology, including genetic erosion as well as religion and culture. His call for a Secretariat paper on this topic was supported by GHANA, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, the THIRD WORLD NETWORK and INDONESIA. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL noted that Bovine Growth Hormone, a biotechnology-derived product, had been rejected by the EU on socioeconomic grounds, emphasizing sovereign rights to reject GMOs with potential adverse effects. SWITZERLAND, supported by CANADA, stated that socioeconomic considerations are important, but called them national issues that are inappropriate for this forum.
GHANA stated that many developing countries lack biotechnology capacity and the ability to assess risk. Including socioeconomic considerations, liability and compensation will help to remove the element of fear over the unpredictability of LMOs. CANADA requested clarification from other delegations on socioeconomic considerations. ETHIOPIA emphasized societal issues in addition to health and environment.
MAURITIUS called the BSWG the right forum for addressing socioeconomic issues. POLAND stated that the socioeconomic effects should be the topic of separate negotiations. NIGERIA supported discussion of socioeconomic issues, public participation and contingency planning. The THIRD WORLD NETWORK stated that socioeconomic factors must be incorporated into risk assessment, which can be accomplished in a timely manner. INDIA highlighted socioeconomic issues as well as risk management utilizing insufficient data on long-term effects. AUSTRALIA and the EU acknowledged concern over socioeconomic effects, but underlined the limited mandate of BSWG-1 to focus on transboundary movement.
BURKINA FASO proposed inviting experts on socioeconomic considerations to attend BSWG-2. INDONESIA highlighted socioeconomic issues in biotechnology regulation. VIETNAM emphasized socioeconomic considerations and proposed two categories of RAM for LMOs with direct and indirect or long-term potential adverse effects.
MOROCCO underlined the right to refuse imports of LMOs perceived as socioeconomic risks. KENYA recalled Article 14.2 (liability and compensation) of the CBD, stating that the COP had provided a mandate to examine liability and compensation. The G- 77/CHINA emphasized that socioeconomic considerations are a concern of many developing countries, and announced that a committee of technical experts drawn from members of the G-77 would be tabling specific proposals for inclusion in a protocol. The DEMOCRATIC PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF KOREA agreed that socioeconomic considerations should be included in a protocol.
LIABILITY AND COMPENSATION: In introducing the subject of liability and compensation, the Chair noted that it was clear that delegations were divided as to its inclusion in the protocol. The GERMAN WORKING GROUP ON BIOSAFETY outlined the key conclusions of a German Parliament report on biotechnology and genetic engineering, which found that only large farming operations might stand to benefit from GMOs, while 75% of the developing worlds farmers, who are smallholders, would not. The report also stated that substitution of agricultural products in the North could lead to a substantial loss of income in the South, with a particular impact on women. IRAN highlighted the direct relationship between liability and implementation of the protocol, in particular RAM and AIA.
The EU cautioned against prejudging the COPs consideration of this issue, but indicated its willingness to engage in an open exchange on domestic legislation. The PHILIPPINES stated that liability should be addressed under both national and international law, and called for penalties and sanctions to be imposed in cases of violation. INDONESIA recommended that the Secretariat prepare a paper on liability and compensation, drawing on existing conventions, to be submitted to the BSWG. Explaining that many companies in both importing and exporting countries do not pay up when liability claims are made against them, he underscored the importance of insurance schemes.
FINANCIAL ISSUES: JAPAN stated that there was no need to establish any new financial mechanisms for the implementation of the protocol, given existing multilateral mechanisms such as the GEF. GHANA stated that the protocol needs guarantees on liability, socioeconomic and finance issues. He called for common ground between the fears of developing countries (biodiversity loss) and industrialized countries (financial loss). MAURITIUS questioned the appropriateness of the EUs earlier intervention given the terms of reference of the BSWG to address all issues in Annex 2 of the Madrid document. Liability is the foundation of justice and legality, which are the basis of any protocol.
TUNISIA noted that a financial mechanism already exists but that additional resources were required for capacity building. Recalling Article 8(g) of the CBD (risks associated with LMOs), he stated that the protocol must be considered an instrument for implementation of the Convention. The EU stated that Article 20 of the CBD (financial provisions) also applies to the protocol. IRAN called for new financial resources to address new dimensions introduced by the issue of biosafety.
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