Sunday, June 22, 2008
Global Biosafety at Risk
OSLO, May 27 (Reuters) - The world is failing in efforts to control an international biotechnology trade ranging from genetically modified crops to the building blocks of biological weapons, a U.N. University study said on Tuesday.
The study said a lack of controls was "a potentially contributing factor to the spread of bioterrorism" -- the deliberate release of naturally-occurring or human-modified bacteria, viruses, toxins or other biological agents.
It said just $135 million, a fraction of the amount needed, had been spent on helping developing countries to build up skills to monitor a rising use of biotechnologies in the past 15 years.
Lack of training and knowledge is "so pervasive and broad that there is no effective international system of biosafety at the moment," according to the 238-page report by the Japan-based U.N. University Institute of Advanced Studies.
"The use and prevalence of biotechnology seems certain to increase, not least in agriculture," it said.
More than 100 developing nations lack the ability to implement the U.N.'s 2003 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, meant to help regulate trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including crops such as maize, tomatoes, rice or soybeans.