Country information about GM food safety assessment
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food have been nominated as National Competent Authorities on biosafety issues by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus of June 5, 2002 N. 734. The Law “On Safety of Genetic Engineering Activities” of 6 January, 2006 No.96-3 regulates such areas of that activity as GMO development, its transporting, handling and processing and field trial testing under the first release of GMO into the environment. GMO import and export is under the control of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Belarus in accordance with the Resolution of the Committee “On the Procedure of Information Submission to the State Scientific Institution “Institute of Genetics and Cytology at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus” of February 16, 2009, N. 7.
The National Biosafety System (NBS) has been established in Belarus after the country accession to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biodiversity in 2002. This system ensures the safe biotechnology activities and protection of biodiversity and human health against possible adverse effect of GMO on them. NBS includes the following elements: (1) legislation; (2) administrative system (system of the state expert examination for GMO, risk assessment, decision making, administrative system, system of gaining, keeping and disseminating information); (3) system of law enforcement, inspection and monitoring; (4) system of the public education and awareness, guarantee of the access to the actual biosafety information and its participation in decision making on biosafety issues.
The important role in improving the national biosafety system plays the National Coordination Biosafety Centre (NCBC) established in accordance with the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus “On Establishment of the National Co-ordination Biosafety Centre” of June 19, 1998, N. 963. The basic tasks of the National Co-ordination Biosafety Centre have been formulated as follows:
– Collection, analysis and systematization of legislation and scientific information on biosafety problems, field trials of genetically engineered objects, import (export), commercial use of genetically engineered organisms and products derived on their basis in Belarus as well as the mentioned biosafety information retrieved from the database of international informational networks, and development of the national biosafety database;
– Submission of biosafety information to ministries and other Republican governmental bodies and mass media concerned;
– Exchange of information with co-ordination biosafety centres of other countries and international organizations;
– Organization of safety scientific examination of genetically engineered organisms and products derived on their basis when their use is assumed in the Republic of Belarus;
– Rendering of consultative services to ministries and other Republican governmental bodies in working out draft legislative documents concerning import (export) and safe use of genetically engineered organisms and products derived on their basis, guidance for assessment and prevention of their risk for the environment and human health and instructions for ensuring safe genetic engineering activities in molecular genetics laboratories;
– Rendering of consultative service to ministries and other Republican governmental bodies in preparing proposals for concluding bilateral and regional agreements, developing international agreements for biosafety issues.
There are 18 laboratories for GMO detection in foodstuffs, food raw materials and seeds in Belarus. They are under subordination of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Belarus and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Relevant links to documents and information prepared by the competent authority responsible for the safety assessment