Written by Henry Neondo
Kenyan state law office, environmentalists and scientists will hold a meeting enxt week to interrogate suitability of the country to or not to sign the Nagoya - Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol that opened for signature in 2011.
According to Dr Roy Mugira, Senior Assistant Director of Research, State Department of Science and Technology, Thursday that the meeting scheduled for Tuesday April 1, 2014 would be critical and could decide the future of the Protocol.
But speaking at the Open Forum on African Biotechnology in Nairobi on Thursday, Dr Mugira voiced reservations on the Nagoya Protocol saying that it still carries the fears seen in the Cartegena Protocol whose overriding tone is that of fear.
He said the two protocols still perceive GMOs in terms of imports yet local scientists even in the developing countries scientists are working to develop local GM crops locally which may not qualify for “introductions” in the environment.
The new supplementary Protocol provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms (LMO).
Setting the stage for its adoption, small group of government negotiators had resolved contentious issues and agreed on the text of the supplementary Protocol just six hours before the opening of the COP-MOP 5 meeting.
Mr. René Lefeber of the Netherlands, one of the Co-Chairs of the Group of the Friends who facilitated the negotiations of the text of the new treaty said: “It has been many years since the last global environmental agreement was agreed. The adoption of new supplementary Protocol during the International Year Biodiversity will give new impetus to multilateral environmental negotiations. This agreement will also make important contribution to the on-going work under the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect life on earth.”
The new treaty was opened for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 7 March 2011 to 6 March 2012.
The issue of liability and redress for damage resulting from the transboundary movements of LMOs was one of the themes on the agenda during the negotiation of the Biosafety Protocol.
The negotiators were, however, unable to reach any consensus regarding the details of a liability regime under the Protocol.
The matter was, nevertheless, considered both critical and urgent. As a result, an enabling clause to that effect was included in the final text of the Protocol (Article 27).
Accordingly, the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) established an Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress to fulfil the mandate under Article 27.
As of February 2013, five are from the African region were among the 14 countries globally that had ratified the Protocol. Kenya is however not among them.
The five are Ethiopia, Gabon, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles and South Africa.