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Plant Science Industry Establishes The Compact

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Industry-Developed Liability and Redress Arbitration Framework Is Commitment to Responsible Technology Use

Brussels, 15 September 2010 – CropLife International today announced that The Compact, a clearly defined, efficient, and fair process for countries to file and process claims related to damage to biological diversity caused by living modified organisms (LMOs), is now in force.  Members of the Compact include the six major plant biotechnology providers — BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta.

“The plant science industry’s commitment to stewardship and the responsible development and use of living modified organisms has helped to ensure there has been no negative impact on biological diversity for over fifteen years of commercialization,” said Denise Dewar, Executive Director of Plant Biotechnology at CropLife International.  “It is this dedication to rigorous science-based risk assessment, risk management and stewardship that has made plant biotechnology an essential tool for farmers as they work to increase crop productivity and reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint.”

The Compact was first introduced in May 2008 to national governments and food value chain stakeholders as a first: an innovative private sector-established option to domestic and international liability laws that provides redress and financial security in the event of damage to biological diversity caused by LMOs.  Since 2008, The Compact’s founding members have developed the framework and guidelines for filing and arbitrating claims.  The Compact defines a clear, science-based process for resolving claims alleging damage to biological diversity where binding decisions are made by independent commissioners and arbitrators under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), located in The Hague.  

“There is no doubt that the Compact is at the cutting edge of innovation in the resolution of transnational disputes, a 21st century solution which could hardly have been conceived of only a generation ago,” said Jan Paulsson, President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration.  “The prospect of neutral decisions, timely decision-making and reliable enforcement on the consensual basis established in the Compact is likely to generate emulation in other technologically advanced fields as well.  One can only applaud The Compact’s members, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the world community for forging a unique private-public arbitration regime to address claims of damage to biological diversity from the use of living modified organisms.”  

Today, biotech crops are grown on 134 million hectares in 25 countries, including several major agricultural exporting countries.  Guidelines on the import, transfer, handling, and domestic use of living modified organisms, including how to address damage to biological diversity, can have significant impact on international trade.  The introduction of The Compact provides States assurance of an objective and independent procedure for evaluating and arbitrating claims of, and remedying damage to, biological diversity.  The implementation of such a framework supports smooth trade transactions in the agricultural community.