The Cartagena Protocol is an international treaty that has established a framework for the regulation of the movement of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from country to country. This protocol entered into force on the 11th of September 2003 and Barbados has been a party from its inception. The Biosafety Cleaning House (BCH) was a mechanism setup under the Cartagena Protocol in which information on GMOs can be compiled and made accessible to various parties seeking to import and export GMOs.
The BCH also seeks to aid parties in achieving their obligations under the Cartagena Protocol. This is accomplished through the provision of a data base portal in which all parties can find and share specific, scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on GMOs. Thus decisions taken by parties to the convention must be communicated to other potentially affected parties through the BCH; as it is imperative that all parties have the capacity, equipment, tools and training to fulfill their obligations and take advantage of the benefits of the BCH. Under Article 2.1 of the protocol, each party is required to take the necessary and appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to implement its obligations under this Protocol. Article 11.1 further highlights the use of the BCH by a party to inform other parties of its final decisions on the domestic use of GMOs, subject to their transboundary movement.
Day 1 – Review of the Cartagena Protocol and Biosafety Cleaning House
Mr. Fred Phillips facilitator of the workshop; launched the workshop with the provision of an initial knowledge evaluation exercise which was aimed at assessing the prior knowledge of the participants on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) and the Biosafety Cleaning House (BCH). Each participant was also given the opportunity to write down their expectations for the workshop and voice their apprehensions. Some concerns highlighted included; will government information be made public to parties on the BCH? How would the BCH involve various entities such as the health and customs? And what are the main issues of concern for GMOs on human health?
Following this, Mr. Philips engaged in a detailed overview of the CPB and the BCH, which was conducted using interactive training modules. This began with the CPB, which included a history of the CPB from its negotiation stage, to its adoption and finally when it entered into force. The rules and procedures that govern the CPB were highlighted and the establishment of the BCH as well as the responsible National Institution after the ratification of the Protocol within a Country. The BCH module established the purpose of the BCH, the specific information on the BCH that the CPB has set out and how the BCH functions. The training modules also gave practical exercises and quizzed the participants on the information presented within both modules.
On completion of the interactive modules, Mr. Rohan Payne presented Barbados’ status and position for the Cartagena Protocol and BCH. Following this, the workshop progressed to the on-line portion, where the main BCH sections were reviewed and the participants were given a walk through of the BCH website. The areas highlighted where the:
• The BCH
• The Protocol
• Finding Information
• Registering Information
• Recourses, and
Participants then registered and signed into the BCH-III Virtual Learning Environment, in which the Barbados National BCH Workshop was available. This course gave a complete set of BCH training materials, inclusive of webinars, case studies, exercises and link access to additional information. An exercise was then commenced in which the participants were divided into groups with a set of questions to be answered. Each group then chose a representative to present the groups answers and upload these answers to the BCH Workshop Course.
Day 2 – Finding and Registering Information on the BCH
Day two was initiated with an overview and an exercise on how to find information using the finding information section on the BCH website. With the use of case studies found on the BCH workshop course, participants were able to search the BCH database for GMOs.
By using the search engine, information on recorded GMOs could be found. This included the names of the GMOs, how they were modified, point of origin and a listing of what various countries have decided to do with the given GMO. This was identified by the participants as a very comprehensive and detailed database that clearly identified how each GMO was modified and their unique identifies.
The participants were informed that they would most likely not have to register information into the BCH; however, they were still given the synopsis of how information on GMOs would be entered into the BCH database.
A final knowledge evaluation was issued to assess the knowledge gained by the participants throughout the workshop. This evaluation was compared with the initial knowledge evaluation in order to evaluate how much information was gained. The written expectations for the workshop where collected to be evaluated. Finally a workshop evaluation was issued to gather feedback from participants on the quality of the workshop and facilitator, and to assess if the workshop objectives expectations.