Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make new products. It has been around for thousands of years. Farmers, for example, have used selective breeding to improve crop production.
In modern times, scientists have altered the very DNA of living organisms to create products in fields ranging from agriculture to health care. Some crops, for example, have been genetically modified to strengthen nutrition or build resistance against pests. But for all the benefits of genetic manipulation, there may also be risks. Read more+
Modern biotechnology has great potential to help meet critical needs for food, agriculture and health care. But the transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms could have adverse effects on biological diversity.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety entered into force in 2003, ushering in a new era for the safe transfer, handling and use of biotechnology. Through its strategic plan, the protocol aims to adequately protect biodiversity from any potential adverse effects of living modified organisms.
Many countries need capacity building support to fulfill their obligations under the protocol. This entails developing a national approach embodied in the development and implementation of a National Biosafety Framework.
What We Do
The GEF provides funding to build country capacity to implement the Cartagena Protocol. As a first step, we help countries take stock of their capacity to implement the protocol and develop a national approach. This can include elements such as raising awareness about biosafety, promoting access to information and engaging the public in designing a strategy.
Through regional or sub-regional projects, we also help countries share resources and coordinate the development of National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs). In particular, we support thematic projects at a regional or subregional level that build on common capacity building challenges countries face in making the protocol operational.
The GEF has supported the development of National Biosafety Frameworks in 126 countries, and their subsequent implementation under the Cartagena Protocol. Read more+
GEF supported a multi-country capacity building project to support compliance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru.
One of the most important achievements of this project was to unify the protocols and tools for biosafety risk assessment and management. As a result of the project, the participating countries learned how to monitor iving modified organisms (LMOs) and how to avoid cross-pollination between LMOs and non-LMO maize, potato, rice and cassava. The project also helped the participants to assess the profitability of their farms, as well as the costs and benefits of introducing LMOs. The project established a platform for South-South learning and knowledge exchange and facilitated the creation of a community of practice on biosafety in Latin America.
In Brazil, the project activities mushroomed into a network of more than 100 participating and collaborating organizations, ensuring that the work on biosafety continues. In Costa Rica, the public outreach campaign resulted in a clear increase in requests for biosafety information and speaking engagements from the project team at the University of Costa Rica. Through these efforts and stakeholder consultations, the project succeeded in communicating science-based information and in positioning the participating research institutions as trustworthy sources of knowledge on the topic of biosafety.