China emphasizes biosafety controls at the same time it pushes forward the development of modern biotechnologies, said Wang Dehui, a senior official of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) yesterday in Beijing.
Biosafety measures do not hinder the development of free trade, and scientific safety assessment procedures will ensure the steady growth of bio-product business, said Wang, deputy director-general of the Department of Natural Environment Protection under SEPA.
He made the statement while chairing the opening session of the three-day UNEP-GEF International Workshop on Implementation of the National Biosafety Framework of China, which opened in Beijing yesterday.
The Global Environmental Facility (GEF), like the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), is an independent financial organization that provides grants to developing countries for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable modes of livelihood in local communities.
Participants are expected to hold discussions on the implementation of the National Biosafety Framework within the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a key international law to ensure environmentally sound and safe management of modern biotechnology.
The protocol, which became a legally binding international law on September 11, is a document that sets out a comprehensive regulatory system for ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) across national borders.
Wang said that his administration is formulating policies, laws and regulations in collaboration with 10 other governmental departments including the ministries of foreign affairs, science and technology and agriculture.
Progress in some fields has been made, he added.
Dr Xue Dayuan, chief of the Expert Group for the China National Biosafety Framework Implementation Project, said when briefing the symposium on the country's implementation of the project that a draft edition of a Biosafety Law had been formulated and analysis reports on the impact of GMOs on the environment, economy and human health had been completed.
The assessment of the present status of GMOs is expected to be completed by the end of this year and technical guidelines on biosafety are expected to be finished in the first half of next year, while the information clearing house should be set up by the end of next year, he said.
(China Daily October 29, 2003)