SAMOA HOSTS BIOSAFETY MEETING

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SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (SPREP) Apia, Samoa

 

PRESS RELEASE March 20, 2001

The way genetically modified organisms (GMO) are transported around the Pacific islands is coming under scrutiny during a regional meeting in Apia this week,

With no regulations currently governing the import, quality or movement of the GMO goods, a strategy to curb the risk factors was needed to protect the ecologically vulnerable Pacific region says Mr. Andrea Volentras, legal adviser for the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Representatives from the agricultural industry in a dozen countries are joining environmental and legal experts this week to sort out a common policy on GMO movement strategies and the best way the issue can be managed.

Although all the benefits and drawbacks of the new GMO technology, that can enhance the quality and shelf time of any number of foods are still unclear, Volentras says some safeguards still need to be in place quickly, as breakthroughs in GMO research by industrialized countries continue to increase.

Support will also be sought for the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol which sets international standards for trans-boundary movement between the 22 SPREP member countries. Kiribati and Samoa have so far signed.

During the official opening, SPREP Officer in Charge Ms. Neva Wendt, said that the issue of biosafety could have far-reaching implications for the region, and that the delegates needed to be well equipped to make decisions with a view to their future sustainability.

"SPREP and its working partner the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, aims to provide Pacific island countries with a better understanding of the scope and application of the Biosafety Protocol, and its relevance to the region, together with the resource, financial, technical, and legal implications for national biosafety regulatory frameworks " she said.

The meeting ends on Friday.

More Information? Fatu Tauafiafi: fatut@sprep.org.ws or Chris Peteru: chrisp@sprep.org.ws 

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