Eidgenössische Ethikkommission für die Biotechnologie im Ausserhumanbereich EKAH

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Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms (LMO) resulting from modern biotechnology. It establishes an advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure for ensuring that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory. The Protocol contains reference to a precautionary approach and reaffirms the precaution language in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The Protocol also establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) to facilitate the exchange of information on living modified organisms and to assist countries in the implementation of the Protocol.

Switzerland has signed the Protocol of Cartagena on May 24, 2000 and ratified it on March 26, 2002. The Ordinance on the transboundary movements of genetically modified organisms (Cartagena Ordinance, CartO) which regulates the transboundary movements of GMOs entered into force on January 1, 2005. The CartO aims at fill in the gaps in the current legislation while facilitating the work of the actors involved in the transboundary movements of GMOs in offering them a specific tool.

The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has been nominated National Focal Point (NFP), being in charge of implementing the national provisions concerning the export of living modified organisms (LMO) and of coordinating the exchange of information at the international level through the Swiss Biosafety Clearing House (CH-BCH).


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) -  Living modified organisms (LMOs)
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using biomolecular techniques. Genetic modification involves the selective insertion or deletion of genes. The Convention and the Protocol use the term living modified organisms (LMOs). In the Swiss legislation and in the common language, the term genetically modified organism (GMOs) is used. These terms are equivalent.

Last updated on: 05.02.2015

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