During the negotiations of the Aarhus Convention no agreement could be reached to fully include the issue of GMOs. In the following years Parties and NGOs tried to mend this 'birth defect' and in 2005 decided upon the Almaty Amendment on public participation in decisions on the deliberate release into the environment and placing on the market of genetically modified organisms. This amendment set up rules for public participation in the decision making about deliberate releases and placing on the market of GMOs. It also declares which information may not be kept confidential.
However, the so far only 26 countries have ratified the Almaty GMO Amendment - while 27 are needed for it to come into force.
At MOP4 of the Aarhus Convention in Chisinau, June 2011, Ecoropa, made the following intervention.
Statement on GMOs by European Eco-Forum/Ecoropa
"The de facto exclusion of GMOs from the Aarhus Convention was not due to scientific certainty or lack of public interest but was due to a very unfortunate constellation of lack of political will at a certain historical moment.
Nowadays, scientific findings are still controversial:
- The Expert Group on Risk Assessment to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety indicates that there are many tasks that need to be addressed.
- The Conference on Recent Findings in Biosafety organized by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists in Mexico and the Federation of German Scientists prior to the Biosafety MOP in Nagoya, last October, indicated that new findings demonstrate risks to the environment and to human health and that the hot scientific discourse is still going on.
- The discussion about procedures of EFSA and about the dangers of conflict of interest persists.
Public interest and the requests for information, participation and access to justice in GMO issues persists and grows in many countries around the globe.
We call on Parties to the Aarhus Convention to mend the birth defect of this precious international instrument, overcome the lack of political will and end the exclusion of GMOs from environmental democracy.
Ministries of the Environment can rely on the steady support of civil society in overcoming obstacles to consolidated interministerial political will at the national level."