Mr. Johansen T. Voker, National Biosafety Focal Person in Liberia speaking at the consultative forum. Stakeholders of the National Bio-safety Program in Liberia have ended a one-day consultative forum, with a call to review the Draft Liberia National Safety Act (LINSA), taking into account the current Bio-safety legal regime.
The main objective of the Draft Bio-safety Act is to protect human life and the environment, through assessment and management of risks associated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
According to a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Draft National Bio-safety Act is one of five key elements developed in 2004 through a national Bio-safety framework which dealing with a Regulatory system to address safety in the field of modern technology and an administrative system to handle requests for the release of living modified organisms.
Other areas are decision-making system which includes risk assessment and management for the release of living modified organisms, mechanisms for public awareness and participation and an advanced Informed Agreement (AIA).
The EPA statement said one of the key provisions of the Draft Bio-safety Act is an Advanced Informed Agreement that requires importer of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) intended for introduction into the environment to present a written request to the EPA and obtain explicit authorization before shipping the product. It said the review focused on current, global, regional and sub-regional Bio-safety legal frameworks that Liberia has endorsed.
“The Draft National Bio-safety Act was comprehensively reviewed in order to align it with current international Bio-safety laws and regulations, with the aim of keeping on track in the avoidance of potential adverse impact of GMOs on human health and the environment”, the EPA stated. The Environmental House noted that the stakeholders made several recommendations in this regard.
The International Community via the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety in Montreal, Canada on 29th January 2000 to ensure adequate level of protection for the safe transfer, handling, and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that could harm human health and the environment. The revision of the Draft Liberia Bio-safety Act followed financial support from the USAID-CILSS/INSAH to enhance the process.