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Food Safety

International affairs

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

The Cartagena Protocol was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003. This Protocol has around 170 Parties, including the EU and its EU countries.

In order to align the EU legislation with the provisions of the Biosafety Protocol, the EU complemented its extensive legislative framework on GMOs by Regulation (EC) 1946/2003 on transboundary movements of GMOs that addresses in particular exports of GMOs.

Codex alimentarius

The international principles for risk assessment of GMOs are set out by Codex Alimentarius.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an intergovernmental body with more than 180 members, within the framework of the Joint Food Standards Programme established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Codex Alimentarius Commission develops and adopts food standards that serve as a reference for international food trade.


  • Protect consumers' health

  • Ensure fair practices in international food trade

  • Coordinate all food standards work done by international governmental and non-governmental organisations

All EU countries are members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. In 2003, the EU also joined, sharing competence with EU countries depending on the level of harmonisation of the respective legislation.

Links: EU and Codex Alimentarius

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Issues related to GMOs are also discussed in OECD Task force for the safety of Novel foods and feeds and in the Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory oversight in Biotechnology. Most of the EU Member States are members of the OECD and the EU has an observer status.