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Bio-safety Project to end December 31, 2005

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - Attempts at better regulating and monitoring the possible importation of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are to be strengthened with more consultations on the national bio-safety project. They are scheduled for the week of November 9th and will be held in Micoud. The most recent consultations took place in the capital city Castries in October.

The bio-safety project began in April of 2004 and is sponsored by the Global Environment Facility of the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP). The project is to come to an end by December 31st, 2005. Over it’s year-and-a-half long lifespan the project has trained several Saint Lucians in bio-safety management issues, risks assessment and management. The project has also played a key role in helping to further sensitized stakeholders to the issue of bio-safety.

National Biodiversity Co-ordinator attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Anita James says, “bio-safety is basically putting systems in place to protect the island’s biodiversity and human health from any possible negative impacts that may occur from the use, creation or transfer and handling of GMO’s especially those that are living.” Miss. James says efforts have gotten underway in the form of national consultations, which seek to prepare a draft framework to help Saint Lucia better manage the issue.

The comprehensive framework consists of a policy, strategy and action plan, along with public participation, administrative and regulatory systems. Saint Lucia in June of this year signed the Cartegena Protocol on Bio-safety, which helps countries collaborate in reducing the negative impacts of risks from GMO’s.

Project officials say at present, there is a high probability that Genetically Modified Organisms may be entering the country. That they say however cannot be fully ascertain due to the lack of control and monitoring mechanisms.

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