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Gov’t Committed to Biodiversity Conservation

GIS: Saint Lucia’s Cabinet of Ministers has demonstrated its commitment to Biodiversity conservation by endorsing a biosafety policy that will regulate the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Cabinet further authorized the Attorney General’s Chambers to finalize a Biosafety Bill and is accompanying regulations.

The bill is an output of a biosafety framework that was previously developed and aimed at regulating the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and living modified organisms (LMOs). The initiative began in 2004. The framework included a legislative system, a risk assessment system, a public feedback mechanism, and an administrative system for the handling of requests to use GMOs, and laboratory testing facilities.

From 2012 – 2017, officials from the ministries of health, agriculture, sustainable development, education, and commerce, worked with consumer groups, faith based organisations, and other key stakeholders to implement the biosafety framework, from which was derived the biosafety policy.

The legislation regulates the use and creation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and living modified organisms (LMOs) through a licensing system, and will solicit background information on persons wishing to use or import GMOs into the country.

The Biosafety Bill establishes bodies of technical and scientific experts who will review applications, assess risks, and determine whether the genetically modified product poses any negative impact to human health and the environment, and how these can be avoided.

The biosafety regulations also assign fines of up to $10,000 for persons importing, using, creating or transporting a GMO without the required license.

The public will be given opportunities to review the Biosafety Bill and Regulations before it is enacted. Copies of the documents can be viewed on lc.biosafetyclearinghouse.net and on the Government of Saint Lucia’s web portal, govt.lc. A public consultation will also be held at 9 a.m. on July 13, in the conference room of the Department of Fisheries in Castries.

By enacting the biosafety legislation, Saint Lucia has signalled its commitment to conserving its unique biological resources so that they continue to contribute to agriculture, tourism, food security, and innovation, for present and future generations. This includes the development of robust laws, fully trained human resources and empowered members of the public who will be active in the decision making process as well as monitoring and enforcement of the law.

For more information on the biosafety framework and legislation visit lc.biosafetyclearinghouse.net, call 758.451.8746 or email slubiosafety@govt.lc.

The endorsement of the biosafety policy was announced on Wednesday, May 3.

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