Linking socioeconomic assessments with the main focus of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which is environmental and food/feed safety assessments becomes a critical need in order to ensure conceptual and operational consistency. Any assessment process focused on socioeconomics will need to define its exact relationship and become consistent with the current implementation approaches pursued by the environmental risk assessments as indicated in Annex 3 and the current work in the risk assessment Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG).
Usually assessment approaches are formulated around a process that includes initial screening, identification of issues, formulation of hypothesis, application of methods and combination of methods, analysis, peer review and formulation of recommendations for decision making. Socioeconomic assessment approaches are not different and thus formulating an implementation approach will include these steps.
Based on the accumulated experience, we know that all technologies which have been adopted will have a socioeconomic impact. Yet, a specific impact issue does not necessarily have to happen in every instance. In some discussions, there seems to be an underlying assumption that all genetically modified/living modified organisms (GM/LMO) applications for regulatory scrutiny will have a socioeconomic consequence on the biodiversity of indigenous and local communities. To ensure that assessors do not spend valuable resources examining socioeconomic issues unnecessarily, it is therefore advisable to have a process that considers initial screening that could make a determination of no significant impact and/or exempts an application from further socioeconomic review.