Developing Countries Oppose UN Ratification of Synthetic Biology, Gene Drives

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Leadership Newspaper, Cancun, Mexico

The United Nations 13th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity has ratified the use of synthetic biology and gene drives despite opposition from developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The technology facilitates the use of data on digital genetic sequences of animals and plants from diverse countries without regulation.

Gene drives could have widespread uses, potentially leading to new ways of combating malaria and other insect-borne diseases and controlling invasive species.

The convention, which was attended by 167 countries, approved the decision after intense negotiations by its two working groups. 
 
However, delegates from Africa expressed dismay over the absence of representatives from Nigeria during the negotiations.
 
Spokesperson of the CBD Secretariat, David Ainsworth, confirmed three delegates from Nigeria registered for the conference, but did not participate in any of the two working groups, as well as the plenary session.
 
"I can confirm to you that three delegates fro Nigeria registered and claimed their badges, but I couldn't trace their participation in any of the working groups," he said. 
 
Developing countries such as Brazil, Mauritania, Kenya and Uganda had canvassed for clear regulation for application of the highly technical synthetic biology.
 
The developing countries argued that application of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is still a subject of controversy, thereby  sought a moratorium on synthetic biology and Gene Drives until the concept is clearly understood. 
 
But advanced countries such as Switzerland and Canada insisted that local regularly mechanisms by Parties should apply. 
 
‎Other agreements reached at the convention covers actions to integrate biodiversity in forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism sectors and to achieve the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development
 
The actions are expected to accelerate implementation of global biodiversity targets, and enhance the linkage of the biodiversity agenda with other global agendas including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and others.
 
 
This article also appeared in Liberty Times.