GM crop damage rules adopted

2010-10-16 14:16

Tokyo - An international meeting on biodiversity held in Japan on Friday agreed on rules which hold businesses liable if genetically modified organisms they have imported pollute ecosystems, a report said.

The meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety reached agreement ahead of the major Convention on Biological Diversity which opens in the Japanese city of Nagoya on Monday.

The protocol holds business operators liable if genetically modified (GM) organisms which they had imported from other countries or companies pollute ecosystems and risk human health, Kyodo News said.

The protocol will open for signatures at the UN headquarters from March. The accord takes effect 90 days after 40 countries and regions ratify it.

Japan hopes to ratify it in autumn next year after obtaining parliamentary approval, Kyodo said, citing government officials.

Talks on compensation for damage caused to ecosystems by GM organisms began in earnest in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 2004.

The international biodiversity conference opening on Monday, which includes more than 190 countries and NGOs, is due to discuss how to pay for the "equitable sharing" of the benefits from natural resources.

The talks will also discuss a fresh target on preserving animal and plant species that are disappearing mostly as a result of human activity.

Species under threat include 21% of all known mammals, 30% of known amphibians and 12% of known birds, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Scientists warn that wildlife habitat destruction is destroying ecosystems that give humans "environmental services" such as clean water and air and are vital for climate control and food production.