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The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#910]
The term "integration" (often interchangeably used with the term "mainstreaming") is variedly defined. According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "integration" means to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole. The concept has been applied in relation to different subjects or issues, including environment, climate change, chemicals management, gender, HIV/AIDS and others.

In my view, integration of biosafety into development processes is a sub-set of environmental mainstreaming. The latter refers to the proactive and systematic analysis and incorporation of environmental sustainability considerations into development strategies, policies, plans or programmes. The UNDP-UNEP Poverty and Environment Initiative (PEI) defines environmental mainstreaming as the integration of environment into national development planning processes and their outputs, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) strategies.

In practical terms, I think biosafety mainstreaming would involve the deliberate incorporation of tools and measures at different stages of policy, plan and programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) and other biotechnology products in various development sectors including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, health, food aid, international trade and others. In other words, it would mean putting safety considerations at the centre of any sectoral or cross-sectoral policy, plan or programme that involves the use or movement of LMOs. The ultimate goal would be to foster synchronization of socio-economic development and environmental sustainability objectives and handling of any trade offs in a pragmatic manner.

I would be interested to know the views of others regarding what the scope of biosafety mainstreaming into development processes should be. Should it be broadened or limited to the scope of the Biosafety Protocol?
(edited on 2009-01-27 02:38 UTC by Erie Tamale)
posted on 2009-01-26 23:50 UTC by Mr. Erie Tamale, UNEP/SCBD
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RE: The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#912]
Hello, I am Lenia Arce and I work for the National Centre for Biological Safety in Cuba. I agree with Mr. Erie Tamale in the sense that Biosafety should be the core when we deal with biotechnology, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, health and food policies. In the case of Cuba, this is still a dream. Our experience shows that it is very difficult to broaden one’s mind, due to the fact that the people’s perception of risk is very low. Unfortunately in our case biosafety is still considered as an expense instead of an investment for the future. This is a common view conceived by the officials in charge of the decision-making process, in which financial resources are involved.

Nevertheless, our action plan on Biosafety is integrated into the biodiversity strategy which, at the same time, is a part of the environmental strategy. Those strategies have been discussed with all stakeholders. Regarding the scope of biosafety mainstreaming, I strongly believe that biosafety should be understood within a broad scope. Unfortunately the Cartagena Protocol is aimed at just one aspect of the biosafety (LMOs). Other elements in which biological risk is involved, have to be addressed under this term, this is the case of the alien species and biological agents. Biosafety, as a preventive discipline, has been subjected to a fragmented vision due to the preponderance given to LMOs by some international organizations.
posted on 2009-01-27 17:10 UTC by Ms. Lenia Arce Hernández, Cuba
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RE: The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#914]
My name is Ann Kingiri from Kenya, currently interested in policy issues related to Biosafety regulations implementation.

Broadening the scope or not; both have advantages and disadvantages. First as alluded to by Lenia, Biosafety is not only LMOs. We might have to reconsider calling it “Biological Safety” and then Biosafety can comfortably fit into this broader term.
If biosafety is to be integrated into the broader Environmental policies, then this is something that needs to be looked into; from respective parties’ local context.

Two, the broader environmental integration as mentioned by Erie, might require re-conceptualisation of the “narrow view” to “broader, holistic or systemic and socially robust view” that has an innovative focus with regards to sustainability. This is problematic because bringing the social economic context will involve integration of diverse perspectives (and sometimes non-scientific views).  When you have divergent opinions, reaching a consensus might be difficult and this is where I would want to hear views of others. 

It might be (at least for the short term) be rewarding to limit the scope to the Biosafety Protocol until when parties are clear on what broader issues might be, which can consequently be integrated into the respective countries developmental agendas, based on the local contexts.
posted on 2009-01-29 15:27 UTC by Ms. Ann Kingiri, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS)
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RE: The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#917]
As Ms. Ann Kingiri  has stated, biosafety systems are developed by different countries taking into account their own scopes and visions about what biosafety is. Unfortunately it seems there isn't a unique and harmonized definition of biosafety, so each country handles this concept differently, broadening or narrowing its scope according to its different needs and priorities. It is true that a broad scope of Biosafety, which would include other categories, in addition to LMOs, at this stage and in the context of the Cartagena Protocol, is indeed problematic. Bearing this in mind, the idea of narrowing the scope to the CP is very reasonable, needless to say that I support this idea.

Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that some countries, like Cuba, have a broad scope of Biosafety which have a direct effect on our national policies. As a consequence, our needs and priorities regarding capacity building on Biosafety and our international cooperation initiatives on this issue, are consistent with such a scope. These elements previously mentioned here, have been reflected in the international projects (such as the UNEP/GEF project) that we have implemented since 1998.
posted on 2009-01-29 20:46 UTC by Ms. Lenia Arce Hernández, Cuba
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RE: The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#922]
Hi, I am working for the Netherlands Ministry of Environment and would like to share our view that LMO’s can offer opportunities for sustainable development, such as in the field of science, medicines or cleaner production processes. At the same time uninformed or irresponsible use and transport of LMOs, as well as the abuse of LMOs can have negative consequences for development and biodiversity and needs to be arranged.

To my personal opinion, it is a fact that we have to deal with LMO’s.
Natural disasters, climate change, social insecurity can lead to decreased land productivity and increased dependence on imported food. Imports may increase the chance of LMOs entering the country. But also increased access to global markets and economic development can lead to more imports, transports and use of LMOs.

The importance attached to the issue may differ per country, depending on political priorities. At the same time, in all cases, there is a strong reliance on governments to ensure biosafety, as well as to decide whether or which LMOs can contribute to a country’s development and how, as this is one of the issues that cannot be fully arranged by the free market or private persons yet.

By ratifying the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Parties also commit to its implementation. Implementation of this Protocol would be more useful and effective if it also contributes to other development goals and processes.

Since this discussion takes place in the context of the CBP, CBP terms and definitions should be used as such, unless otherwise indicated. On national level it is almost unavoidable to use terminology with broader coverage. The government of Parties and other actors involved should however have a clear view of which obligations result from CBP and which issues are or can(not) be arranged internationally via the CBP.
posted on 2009-02-04 17:21 UTC by Msc. BA. Lucy Naydenova, Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM)
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RE: The meaning of biosafety integration into development processes [#929]
Yves Robert Personna, M.Sc., Haiti
It is obvious that biosafety includes not only issues related to LMOs but also those related to any biological threats. Thus, we might tend to broaden the scope of biosafety integration into development processes to reflect all biological processes that can have a negative impact on the environment. However, we have to keep in mind that the Cartagena Protocol has resulted from a long and difficult negotiation’s process. To be consistent with the biosafety Protocol and avoid potential conflicts, we must limit the meaning to the scope of the protocol. Nevertheless, a wide definition can be noted while a limited and more precise will be added to refer to the context of the protocol.
posted on 2009-02-09 16:05 UTC by Dr. Yves-Robert Personna, Haiti
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