September 30, 2004

Protocol on biosafety ratified

Namibia has committed itself to guarding against the unwise use of Genetically Modified Organisms and related products by ratifying the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. By ratifying the protocol, Namibia will neither endorse the new technology, nor prohibit it. The provisions of the protocol will enable Government to benefit from international co-operation on such issues. Among important provisions of special relevance to Namibia is one that will require the prior approval of Government for the import of genetically modified commodities for domestic use. Government's consent will have to be communicated to the world to make it clear to exporters which products can be exported to a particular country. The protocol also requires that GMOs, such as seeds intended for direct introduction into the environment, must be accompanied by documents from the exporter which explicitly state that a shipment contains GMOs. "The issue of regulation has become extremely urgent in Namibia because of the changes in agricultural production towards genetically modified crops in countries from which Namibia have thus far been importing large volumes of maize and other foods," said Deputy Environment Minister Peter Ilonga when he requested the support of the National Assembly to ratify the protocol. The House gave its approval.
The Cartegena Protocol came into force in September 2003. Almost 90 countries - among them 20 African countries - have acceded to it.
(The Namibian, Windhoek)

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