#Science & Technology
Convention for Biological Diversity

The rate of current biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change are unprecedented. Recent reports suggest we cannot effectively address one without the other. Goals set in the past to confront the most pressing drivers of these two global challenges have not been met and it is clear that current practices are not enough to change the trajectory. To overcome these global challenges, we must take transformative actions that merge innovative science and current practices into accelerated solutions. Science can achieve concrete results when research is prioritized, such as a vaccine that safeguards us against the worst effects of the Covid-19 virus.

The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which some are calling the “Paris Agreement for Nature,” must be grounded in science and innovation to achieve the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its protocols. To do so, the GBF needs to include goals and targets that support research and the sharing of new technologies.
Innovations such as modern biotechnology and advances in synthetic biology are built on years of research and experience. Agricultural biotechnology has a decades-long history of safe use. These innovative technologies offer incredible potential to accelerate our progress towards the CBD goals while also contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Consequently, the Framework’s approach to biotechnologies in Target 17 — "Establish, strengthen capacity for, and implement measures in all countries to prevent, manage or control potential adverse impacts of biotechnology on biodiversity and human health, reducing the risk of these impacts." — should be consistent with the CBD and its protocols.

As such, it should be rephrased to: a) recognize the potential benefits of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from biotechnology, in accordance with Article 16 of the CBD and the preamble of the Cartagena Protocol; and b) focus on “the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnologies” in accordance with article 8G of the CBD, considering the scope of the convention and its protocols.

In doing so, Target 17 can:
• Help encourage countries to use biotech tools for locally developed sustainable solutions: Recognizing and highlighting successes in Latin America, Africa and Southern Asia that have effectively contributed to the achievement of the SDG’s such as drought tolerant wheat in Argentina, virus resistant beans in Brazil, and pest resistant brinjal in Bangladesh will encourage other parties in the global south to use their local talent, resources and scientific ingenuity to seek their own successes.
• Recognize the safe utilization of LMOs for the past 25 years around the world: There is a global scientific consensus that there is no scientific evidence of adverse impacts on biodiversity or human health resulting from currently used LMOs. LMO products used for 25 years are safe and the biosafety procedures of the Cartagena Protocol have helped ensure this result
• Avoid focusing only on the risks of Biotechnology: All 196 countries that are part of the CBD will seek to comply with target 17. If the COP in December decides on language that focuses only on risks, then individual country’s actions involving biotechnology under the framework for the next ten years will likely also focus on risks. This could lead to less private and public investment in biotech research and product development and countries having more trouble meeting their environmental and sustainability goals.
• Establish a scope for target 17 that is consistent with CBD and CP: The CBD and its protocols focus on living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology, so too should target 17. This is very important, considering the language “adverse impacts of Biotechnology” is much broader than the scope of the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

The Alliance for Science and the undersigned coalition of academics and public sector scientists ask the 196 member parties of the CBD to include the positive impacts of biotech and focus on LMOs in the language of Target 17

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The Support biotech to protect biodiversity petition to Convention for Biological Diversity was written by Alliance for Science and is in the category Science & Technology at GoPetition.