Beveridge & Diamond

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Avoiding New Global Controls on the Import and Export of U.S. Food Products

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. represented U.S. food companies in negotiations for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol, concluded in January 2000, establishes a global legal regime governing international trade in Living Modified Organisms (LMOs). Early in the negotiations, a block of developing countries sought to extend the scope of the Protocol to include not only actual LMOs but products derived from LMOs (so-called "products thereof") such as processed foods made from genetically modified crops.

Beveridge & Diamond helped the industry develop and execute a strategy that emphasized the proper limits of the legal mandate for the Protocol negotiations, which sought to address potential risks to biological diversity. Working with our client and local trade groups in other countries during and in between negotiating sessions, attorneys with the Firm helped to persuade governments to exclude "products thereof" from the scope of the final Protocol, thereby avoiding new global controls on the import and export of U.S. food products.

Following the conclusion of negotiations, Beveridge & Diamond assisted the global biotechnology industry with the drafting of an implementation reference guide for governments. Drawing on existing national laws and policy precedents, the reference guide is used to encourage consistent national implementation of the Biosafety Protocol worldwide.