Hyderabad: The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity began on Sunday at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre with host nation India taking over as the chair from Japan.

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan took over the reins of the Conference of Parties (COP-11) from Japan's Masamichi Saigo on the occasion.

Delivering the inaugural address on the occasion, Natarajan noted that some countries had reservations on the living modified organisms (LMOs), particularly with reference to their long-term impact on biodiversity, human health and socio-economics.

"The Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety (CPB) recognizes that Parties may take into account their international obligations and the impact of LMOs on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, including human health. Let us allay the apprehensions and reach a consensus," she added.

The Union Minister observed that it was not an easy task to balance modern technology and impact on bio-safety.

"There are no shortcuts in achieving this balance. LMOs is a controversial issue with concerns on long-term impact on ecology and conservation," she said.

India signed the supplementary protocol on liabilities last year. "We urge all other countries to fast track ratification. We need to follow the protocol in letter and in spirit," Natarajan said.

She pointed out that investments in biotechnology were increasing significantly in several countries. "We need science-based regulation in this regard," she added.

"India is a mega diverse country with a strong and vibrant biotechnology industry and therefore committed to the implementation of the CPB in a balanced manner," the Union Minister assured delegates from over 190 countries.

She hoped the momentum built at MOP-6 would help in resolving critical issues for effective implementation of the CPB, including the early entry into force of the Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress.

Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan and Union Environment Secretary Tishya Chatterjee were also present on the occasion.


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