STATUS & IMPORTANCE OF BIOSAFETY
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago currently has no legislation to deal with GMOs and LMOs. The Cabinet of the Government has appointed a committee to develop a national policy and regulations on biosafety. A legal sub-committee was also formed to deal specifically with relevant legislative reforms. The existing legislation was examined with a view to determine whether any of the said legislation can be amended to address the issues surrounding GMOs and LMOs. Proposed legislation will focus on protection which is required at three stages: prior to arrival of GMOs/LMOs; upon arrival; and during use.
Presently a draft biosafety policy exists and its purpose is to:
ensure that products of modern biotechnology, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), do not pose an unacceptable risk to human, animal or plant health or to the environment;
provide an enabling environment for biotechnology development by ensuring that the interface between technology and society is carefully managed;
ensure that the environment along with plant, animal and human health are managed at the highest safety standards without being unduly restrictive to biotechnology development and trade;
ensure that perceived conflicts of interest do not hamper policy development and implementation or impinge on human rights.
Public perception and opinions
Public opinion was generally favourable for the application of biotechnology in Trinidad and Tobago, provided that adequate measures are provided to protect plant, animal and human health and the environment. GMO perceptions in Trinidad and Tobago included the following:
GM food would be desirable if the level of pesticides applied to crops could be reduced or if it were more nutritious than non-GM food.;
Benefits along with risks of the technology should be considered in determining the suitability of the technology.;
Medicine and medical research, followed by environmental management were identified as the areas that were most suited for the application of the technology in the country.;
Price, ethics and religion were the dominant factors affecting consumer choice of GM vs. non-GM food. Most persons were of the view that mandatory labelling of GM products is required, but they were not prepared to pay an increased cost associated with labelling.;
There was general dissatisfaction with the level of public education on GMOs. The media (especially television), along with pamphlets and flyers were seen as the most effect means of information dissemination.
Extracted From: Biosafety Clearing House