Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Montreal, Canada
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 11/09/2003


Environment and products

Sub category

Flora and fauna



What is it about?

The present instrument, adopted in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio, 05 January 1992), intends to prevent hazards associated with the creation, handling, transfer and use of genetically modified organisms. By applying the “precautionary principle” on an international level, the Cartagena Protocol enables State Parties to ban the import of genetically modified organisms even if no scientific evidence exists of them causing harm for people or nature. To ensure transparency of transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms, the Protocol ties these to a “Prior Informed Consent” procedure. The exporting country has to precisely inform the importing country on technical elements allowing for risk assessment and risk management. While an import authorization is given, the traceability of the product has to be ensured by proper labelling. The Protocol establishes a Biosafety Clearinghouse, located in Montreal, in charge of the distribution of information on modified organisms and the registration of State Parties having approved the import or release of such organisms. The provisions of the 2000 Cartagena Protocol do not apply to pharmaceutical products intended for human use, or to the contained use of genetically modified organisms. It applies to modified organisms intended for direct use as food, feed or agricultural seeds.

Why is it relevant?

By regulating transboundary movements of living modified organisms, the 2000 Cartagena Protocol offers more transparency and promotes a strong cooperation on this subject among developed and developing economies. It allows developing countries to assess the hazards of genetically modified organisms, without banning them. It provides legal grounds for refusing import and use of modified organisms in order to avoid that a Member State’s territory is used without prior consent for breeding experiments with genetically modified organisms.

Additional Information

The Party Conference to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity ensures the application of the present Protocol. The 2000 Cartagena Protocol is open for signature by States and regional economic integration organizations.


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