Photo: Unsplash/Talha Hassan
19 Sep 2022 Video Chemicals & pollution action

Global biotech knowledge base puts safety first

Biotechnology has huge potential to help overcome some of our leading global problems, from disease-resistant crops to innovative medical treatments.

But, like many new technologies, it is not without potential risks.

Living Modified Organisms (LMOs – also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs) can potentially negatively impact human health and the environment.

Biosafety is the practice of safely managing modern biotechnology to avoid these potential adverse effects while recognizing its great potential for promoting human well-being.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is the leading international agreement on biosafety, aiming to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of LMOs and govern their movement from one country to another.

The Cartagena Protocol has established a Biosafety Clearing House to facilitate the exchange of information on LMOs and ensure that countries can access the information they need to make science-based decisions before agreeing to the use, transit, import or export of LMOs.

With the support of the Global Environment Facility, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has played a key role in the development and rollout of the Biosafety Clearing House, helping over 130 countries to effectively participate in the system and make informed decisions regarding the import, export or release of modified organisms.

Kenya is one country that has championed these efforts. The Kenya National Biosafety Authority has been working with UNEP experts to build national awareness on biosafety, generate information on LMOs in Kenya, and publish it to the Biosafety Clearing House under the Sustainable Capacity-Building for Effective Participation in the BCH project.

Here, Dr. Josephat Muchiri from the Kenya National Biosafety Authority shows how the project has helped Kenya meet its obligations to the Cartagena Protocol and develop a growing national knowledge base to inform its biosafety policy and practice:


To learn more about the Sustainable Capacity-Building for Effective Participation in the BCH project and UNEP’s Global Environment Facility-supported work in Biosafety, contact Alex Owusu-Biney.