Implementing the Socio-Economic Considerations Claude for Regulatins Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOS) in Malasya: Challenges and Options
Abdul Majid, Marina
DIVISION OF LAW MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY NORTH RYDE, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Malaysia's Biosafety Act 2007 proposes to address socio-economic considerations of Genetically Modified Organisms(SECGMOS) under Section 35 which mirrors Article 26(1) of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety(CPB). There exists a disagreement among parties to the CPB concerning the scope of SECGMOS under Article 26. Past negotiations of the CPB indicates that developing countries such as Malaysia and the African block had proposed for SECGMOs for fear that the introduction of GMOs would pose as a threat socially, economically and culturally to developing countries. SECGMOS complements social development, an aspect of sustainable development. Without a parameter for the scope of SECGMOS within the CPB, Malaysia will use its own discursion to implement Section 35 of its Biosafety Act 2007. This paper seeks to identify the means in enabling Malaysia to implement Section 35 of the Biosafety Act 2007. The methodology adopted in this study combines relevant references such as legislations, international documents, interviews among Malaysian agencies and secondary resources.The findings indicate that Malaysia has yet to fully define the scope for SECGMOS. Aspects of SECGMOS which have been addressed include the farmers right to save an exchange seeds as a sui generis system under Malaysia's Plant Protection Variety Act 2004 against a system of patents under the Patents Act 1983. An area of SECGMOS which has yet to be addressed by Malaysia include the threat of GMOs in the conservation of plant genetic resources among indigenous women. Another aspect which has yet to be addressed concerns the occupational safety and health of farmers who may be exposed to pesticide and herbicide with the possibility of introducing GMO pest and herbicide resistant crops in the future. Overall, there are aspects of SECGMOS which have been addressed while there exists a lacuna in some areas. It is proposed that Malaysia should explicitly determine the scope for SECGMOS under any subsequent regulations or guidelines to serve as guidance with the enforcement of the Biosafety Act 2007. Norway's Gene Technology Act 1993 would serve as guidance for SECGMOS which Malaysia could adapt to localized conditions as part of Section 35 in its Biosafety Act 2007.