On 5th July 2019 in Khujand held a workshop to discuss legal and regulatory documents in the field of biosafety, which was attended by representatives of the Environmental Department of the Sugd region, the Regional Customs Service, the Food Safety Committee, the regional Center for Standardization, Metrology, Certification and Trade Inspection, the testing laboratory of the food safety and agricultural products and consumer goods of the Tajik Standard Agency, the regional Aarhus Centre, NGOs and universities. The event was organized with the participation of the UNEP-GEF project to support the implementation of the National Biosafety Framework.
The key topic of the meeting was the issues of compliance of existing legislation and regulatory acts with the provisions and procedures provided for in the Cartagena Protocol (CP). To date, this Protocol is the main international legal instrument relating exclusively to genetically modified organisms, which provides for mandatory procedures and provisions for processes related to GMOs. Tajikistan, as a country party to the Protocol, has committed itself to develop the necessary political, legal, administrative and practical mechanisms for creating an effective national biosafety system in the context of the CP.
The experts provided the participants with key information on the directions and procedures that are governed by the rules and provisions of the protocol, in particular, the mandatory notification procedures and advance informed consent stipulated for the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. In addition, the result of an assessment of existing legislation that complies with the provisions and standards stipulated in the Protocol was presented, taking into account the revisions introduced into the relevant laws.
Specialists from regulatory agencies, who actively participate in the discussions, stressed the need to create practical mechanisms and tools for more effective implementation of legal norms in practice. In turn, representatives of public organizations and the Aarhus Centre noted that today the civic activity of the public is growing, and the local population is actively interested in environmental issues, so it is very important to involve the public in the decision-making process on issues related to GMOs.
Public awareness and their participation in the decision-making process is one of the key aspects in the biosafety regulatory framework in the context of the Protocol. The workshop also devoted time to this issue and provided information on the features and objectives of the functioning of the global Biosafety Clearing-House, which is an important platform for exchanging information related to GMOs, its transportation, processing and use.