IT is a criminal offence to engage in any activity on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) without authorisation and offenders are liable to E100 000 or 2 years imprisonment or both.
This was revealed Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA) Legal Counsel Constance Dlamini during a workshop organised by SEA for journalists at Orion Hotel over the past weekend.
The aim of the workshop was to sensitise journalists about the Bio Safety Act of 2012. Dlamini mentioned that the Act empowers SEA to grant approval for any intentional release of product of modern biotechnology to the environment based on specified procedures and information.
Making her presentation during the workshop, Dlamini explained that during the Earth Summit in 1992, the safety of modern biotechnology was raised as an issue to be looked at seriously.
She said Article 8(g) and 19 (3) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), of which Swaziland is also a party, called for parties to develop a protocol to set out appropriate procedures, including in particular, advanced informed agreements in the field of safe transfer, handling and use of Living Modified Organisms (LMO) resulting from biotechnology that may have adverse effect on conservation and sustainable development.
The protocol was negotiated and finally adopted in January 2000 and entered into force in September 2002. Swaziland acceded to the protocol in 2006. The objectives of the Act are to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.
The Act is aimed at providing a transparent and predictable process for review and decision-making on such GMOs and related activities, to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity and to provide for matters incidental thereto. It is based on the rights of the individual as recognised under general issues of environmental governance, access to information, public participation and access to justice.