The Aarhus Convention’s GMO amendment
The amendment will enter into force when it has been ratified by at least three fourth of the Parties that were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted. That is, it must be ratified by 27 of the 35 Parties that were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted. As of today, the amendment has been ratified by 32 Parties, 26 of which were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted and thus count towards its entry into force. This means a further 1 ratification is required from those Parties who were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted in order for the amendment to enter into force. The following Parties were party to the Convention at the time the amendment was adopted but are yet to ratify the amendment: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
Upon its entry into force, the GMO amendment will apply to all those Parties which have by that time become party to it. To see whether a particular country has ratified or acceded to the amendment, see here.
Key guidance material related to GMO matters are listed below and are available through this web page
Lucca Guidelines on GMOs
At its first session (Lucca, 21-23 October 2002), the Meeting of the Parties adopted guidelines on access to information, public participation and access to justice with respect to genetically modified organisms. The guidelines are often referred to as the "Lucca Guidelines" (see ENG FRE RUS).
Collaboration with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
In decision II/1 adopting the GMO amendment, the Parties to the Aarhus Convention recognised the need to cooperate with other international organizations and forums, in particular the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with a view to maximizing synergy and avoiding duplication of effort, including through encouraging the exchange of information and collaboration between the respective secretariats.
Pocket guide promoting effective access to information and public participation
The Aarhus Convention and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety secretariats have established a strong collaborative relationship in recent years, undertaking a number of successful joint activities at the international level. To strengthen capacities of Governments and stakeholders in providing effective access to information and public participation in decision-making processes regarding LMOs/GMOs, a pocket guide has recently been developed. This informal training and learning tool has been prepared on the basis of experiences shared by Parties to and stakeholders of the Cartagena Protocol and the Aarhus Convention. It also builds on other capacity-building resources developed under the two instruments related to access to information and public participation regarding LMOs/GMOs. All interested Governments and stakeholders were invited to submit their comments through two rounds of consultations held in 2019-2020. The finalized pocket guide takes the comments received into account.
Checklist of key measures for ratification and implementation
They have developed a checklist of key measures to assist Parties in ratifying and implementing the Aarhus Convention and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in the context of living modified (LMOs)/genetically modified (GMOs) organisms. All interested Governments and stakeholders were invited to submit their comments through the two rounds of consultations held in 2014-2015. The finalised checklist, taking into account the comments received, is available to Parties to both instruments and stakeholders for their information and use: En Ru Fr
Summary of tools and resources to support implementation
In addition, the two secretariats prepared a note that describes different tools and resources for the provision of technical assistance to support implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Aarhus Convention in the context of LMOs/GMOs. The document offers a useful source of information for Governments and different stakeholders: En Ru Fr
The Checklist and the Note have been prepared pursuant to the conclusions of the joint Aarhus Convention/CBD round table held in October 2013. Both papers are intended to assist Parties to identify possible steps it might take to most efficiently ratify and implement the two instruments in the context of LMOs/GMOs.
Recent and upcoming events on GMOs
In keeping with the above, the Aarhus Convention has undertaken a number of joint activities with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addressing access to information and public participation with respect to GMOs.
The two secretariats jointly organized in Geneva the third Global Round Table on LMOs/GMOs on 16-18 December 2019
The previous two global round tables on LMOs/GMOs were held in Geneva on 15-17 November 2016 and on 16 and 17 October 2013. The roundtables featured expert presentations and sharing of experiences and lessons learned, regarding:
- Key issues of concern for Parties and stakeholders with respect to access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice regarding LMOs/GMOs
- Obstacles and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Aarhus Convention's Almaty Amendment on GMOs and the Lucca Guidelines on GMOs, and Article 23 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as well as good practices and innovative tools to address them
- Opportunities for cooperation and capacity building
- Priorities for future work
The outcomes of the roundtables were submitted to the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and to the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The outcomes are expected to facilitate implementation of the Aarhus Convention’s Almaty Amendment on GMOs and the Cartagena Protocol's programme of work on public awareness, education and participation concerning LMOs.
The previous events included the organization of two joint workshops, the
International workshop on public awareness, access to information and public participation regarding living/genetically modified organisms (Nagoya, 8-9 October 2010) and
International workshop on access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding GMOs (Cologne, 19-20 May 2008).
Prior to its adoption at the second session of the Meeting of the Parties, the draft GMO amendment was prepared by a Working Group on GMOs, led by Austria. For more about the former Working Group on GMOs, see here.