Biosafety Regulations Under the Cartagena Protocol: The Jamaican Case*
Office of the Prime Minister
Financial support: OAS Project number AE 145-01 "Biosafety Regulations in Latin America and The Caribbean within the framework of the International Biosafety Protocol".
Jamaica is an island with delicately balanced biodiversity and high endemicity. It also relies heavily on trade. Biosafety therefore is high on the island’s agenda, and the nation has been active in the Cartagena Protocol negotiations. Jamaica’s biotechnological competence allows the island to import as well as export transgenics. Nevertheless, to safely identify, test, handle, transport, store and use such organisms and their products, the island recognizes the importance of improving there capabilities. Additionally, to satisfy the obligations of the protocol a comprehensive legislation was also deemed necessary. Furthermore, to reduce costs and improve scientific coverage and efficiently, Jamaica feels that a Caribbean institutional approach to the implementation of the Protocol is essential.
A wave of biotechnologies, over the last three decades, have given rise to fundamental changes in the global perception of life, economic possibilities, environmental impacts and social concerns. An unavoidable bio-revolution is said to be in progress.
A small country, like Jamaica, which depends heavily on trade of goods and services and which has a strong biodiversity base, sees both opportunities and challenges in these developments. The island, because of its high and fragile endemicity, therefore has a strong interest in questions of biosafety and consequently has been active in the Cartagena Protocol negotiations.
This paper seeks to outline the islands present biosafety situation and what has to be done to increase its capacity to manage and control the possibilities which arise with biotechnological products, and the rapid and frequent movement of species into new habitats.