Keywords: biosafety, Cartagena Protocol, Convention on Biological Diversity, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), governance, informed consent, sound science, precautionary principle
Creating a global biosafety regime
This article examines one of the first international efforts to formulate legally binding rules for "biosafety" or safe use of biotechnology - the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Cartagena Protocol, concluded in January 2000, mandates the "informed consent" of a country prior to the release of genetically modified organisms into its environment. The paper traces the divergent perspectives on biosafety within this negotiation and explores how key areas of disagreement were resolved in finalising the protocol. It concludes by assessing the implications of the completed protocol for different groups and for global governance of safe use of biotechnology in agriculture.