Biosafety/Biotechnology legislation to be laid in Parliament by June



By Kurt Campbell

Bio[] – Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud has announced that a draft Biosafety/Biotechnology Bill will be completed and ready for parliamentary approval by June this year.

The Minister explained that the Bill, once passed by the National Assembly, would be the legal framework to guard against potential challenges and will ensure Guyana’s compliance with the Catagena Protocol, which is an international agreement on biosafety.

He explained that his Ministry and related agencies are currently involved in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that when the Act comes into force it will not be seen as an imposition and applicability would be ensured.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indarjit Ramdass explained that the draft document will be published in the local newspapers and placed on the Ministry’s website for stakeholders to view and offer recommendations.

He said that five regional consultations are also planned and will be conducted within the coming months. These consultations also aim to educate the populace on the necessity for the Act.  

The Draft Biosafety and Technology Bill will be developed by local Consultant, Teni Housty and includes the contained use of Living Modified Organisms (LMO) and for food and feed, labeling, and release of LMO into the environment.

The draft Bill currently comprised of 112 pages and has four accompany pieces of regulations. LMOs are organisms which have had their genetic makeup altered by injecting acid into their cells to make them overcome natural physiological or reproductive barriers.

The Biosafety Protocol makes it clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits.

In recognizing the importance of safeguarding local genetic diversity, Guyana established a Protected Areas Commission, facilitating two new declarations in 2011.

To date, the use of biotechnology has not proven to be a treat to biodiversity or human health.

It has been used in the agricultural sector, partially due to the strong economic support provided to Guyana’s economy from agricultural products and raw materials.  



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