Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

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Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

340 I Global biosphere policy

jects. The GTI would also have to be linked to existing

information networks, in particular the Clearing

House Mechanism.

I 3.2.7

Alien species

The phenomenon of the spread of alien species has

been addressed many times by the Council (WBGU,

2000a; Section E 3.6). Particular attention has been

drawn in that context to the need for an analysis of

ecological risk from the planned introduction of alien

species. The Council also recommended the introduction

of international regulations pertaining to the

release of organisms not only for the purposes of biological

control, but also for food production.

For agriculture and forestry there are already

clear parameters. A comprehensive risk analysis for

all potential ‘newcomers’ is not possible, but for

instance most innovations today in the classic area of

pest control in which the introduction of new alien

species plays a role call for a risk analysis to be carried

out (WBGU, 2000a). Furthermore, the FAO has

developed a code of conduct for the import and

release of exotic organisms that serves as a guideline

for governments, exporters and importers and should

contribute towards risk minimization (WBGU,

2000a). In the Council’s view it is necessary to harmonize

existing regulations governing the introduction

of alien species and to expand them to include

the areas of application mentioned above (Section E

3.6).The deficits in preventive risk analysis should be

reduced using models and scenarios. Central to this

in the Council’s view should be the precautionary

principle, or specifically, the avoidance of introducing

alien species. In detail, the Council recommends:

• Harmonization of relevant terms and provisions:

In order to ensure that the terms used in national

legislation in connection with the introduction of

alien species are consistent, it is necessary to

establish clear definitions and content of terminology.

Furthermore, the provisions in connection

with the introduction of alien species and genetically

modified species should be harmonized,

since numerous issues are similar in the two cases.

• Institutional responsibilities and scope for checking

regulations on intentional release: There is already

in many countries an obligation to obtain approval

for the introduction of alien organisms; deficits

prevail in many countries with regard to the extent

to which existing regulations and possible sanctions

can be checked for violations. The precautionary

principle should be the basis on which the

release of alien species is carried out. Therefore,

prior to any intentional release, environmental

impact assessments must be carried out. These

must also apply to releases in the context of agriculture

and forestry.As a matter of principle, those

responsible for the introduction of alien species

should be liable for potential follow-on damage.

The responsibilities of international institutions

and national agencies for prevention and management

in cases of emergency must be clarified.

• Prevention of unintended introduction: Unintended

introduction should be prevented by border

and seed controls, logistical measures such as

shorter waiting times in container traffic, but also

awareness-raising in the population and important

target groups (tourists, hunters, fishermen,

aquarists, foresters, farmers, garden owners, etc).

Already today, various approaches relating to the

analysis of introductions in various areas for similarities

and differences can be employed for the

purpose of early warning and prevention. These

approaches should be developed further in the

direction of an early warning system.

I 3.2.8

Terminator technology

‘Terminator technologies’ are new developments in

plant breeding using bioengineering procedures in

which the ability of plant genetic resources to germinate

is restricted or prevented altogether.The seed of

these new varieties when sold is not affected, but the

harvested plant is incapable of reproduction.The use

of the harvested material for replanting is thus rendered

impossible and so the seed has to be bought

anew each time. The first patented Technology Protection

System from the company Delta & Pine

Lands is an application of this technology. Other

applications produce limitations to the natural resistance

of plants (eg Novartis’ patent on ‘systematic

acquired resistance genes’).The fears that cultivation

of these new varieties could lead to an impairment of

biological diversity have so far not been sufficiently

grounded in scientific studies. However, these technologies

became an issue of contention during the

COP-4 as a risk to nature and society that is difficult

to quantify.The dependence on the use of terminator

technologies and the increasing control of plant production

by influential seed companies raises at the

very least socio-economic problems.The Council recommends

research on the ecological and socio-economic

impact of terminator technologies in order to

allow for a scientifically based treatment of the topic.

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