The Cartagena Protocol and Biological Diversity: Biosafe or Bio-Sorry?

Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 12, 2000

21 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2000  

Jonathan H. Adler

Case Western Reserve University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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Abstract

In January 2000, delegates from over 100 nations completed negotiations on an international treaty for the regulation of biotechnology, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The stated purpose of this protocol is to enhance the protection of biological diversity. Despite its good intentions, there is a mismatch between the protocol?s substantive provisions and present threats to biological diversity. The protocol endorses "precautionary" regulation of transboundary shipments of genetically engineered organisms, including crops, so as to reduce the environmental risks that such organisms may pose. The greatest threat to biological diversity is habitat loss, largely driven by the conversion of land for agricultural uses. Genetically engineered crops could alleviate pressures to clear habitat by increasing per-acre agricultural productivity. Therefore, insofar as the biosafety protocol discourages the use of genetically engineered crops, it could do more harm than good.

Suggested Citation

Adler, Jonathan H., The Cartagena Protocol and Biological Diversity: Biosafe or Bio-Sorry?. Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 12, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=227644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.227644

Jonathan H. Adler (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

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