In December this year will be the 13th meeting of the conference of the parties to the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Cancun Mexico. This will also include the 8th meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.
Last week I managed to confirm that I will be attending the meeting this year as part of another project that I coordinate (biodiverSEEDy). With that project, we hope to present a couple of side events at the meeting on topics that are also of interest for the Agri/Cultures project. The first of these will be on different perceptions around threats to maize biodiversity and possible solutions for addressing these (based on our work on this issue with indigenous communities in Mexico). The second will focus on new plant breeding techniques within biotechnology and the question of whether the genetically modified organisms created using these different techniques have conservation value as part of the biodiversity of life on earth (as part of our work investigating the operations of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the question of whether GMOs have a place there).
One of the key issues of discussion at this meeting, and particularly under the Cartagena protocol, will be around new plant breeding techniques and the development of synthetic biology, including to what extent they fall within the scope of this international agreement and how organisms generated using these techniques should be understood, defined and governed within the context of global trade and transboundary movement. I look forward to taking part in this meeting, listening to the discussions, observing the negotiations and of course blogging about my experiences and the key topics of debate!