I am hoping to hear in different forums or through explicit opinion surveys, what countries that are party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and non-parties, think about and what are their approaches with regard to Article 26. As a clarification, I think it is not proper to qualify the appropriateness of any party’s formal positions unless invited to do so by the party itself. At most, policy analyst can document what parties are doing with regard to socioeconomics.
Yet, I think it is prudent for those countries who are still considering whether to exercise their right to apply or not socioeconomics in their decision making –to carefully weigh the issues related to such implementation, including the benefits, costs and risks in order to decide whether it really improves decision making. I am afraid the answer is not unequivocal, even in the case when the SEC assessments may have been properly done. If a country has made the informed choice to include socioeconomic considerations then the discussion becomes how they are going to do it-
From the standpoint of a well-seasoned expert, I know there are many pitfalls and issues related to the implementation of SEC assessments and that is why I like the challenge. SEC assessments done before the technology is released (ex ante) and done likely for approval purposes, are full of assumptions and data limitations. We have to take the results from even the most experienced expert with caution.
Parties will in fact have to weigh how much specificity they desire to gain knowledge about technology adoption with when to conduct such studies. Even those conducted after adoption (ex post ) done likely for monitoring purposes, are really tricky to assess and to untangle cause and effects but may yield more and perhaps more precise information. Projections made over the long run about impacts become even more diffuse over time. This is the reason why one cannot focus on qualitative but also quantitative approaches in such assessments.
The last point I wanted to make is that I believe in SEC assessments, the needs arises of balancing and contrasting SEC considerations derived from impacts on biodiversity resulting from LMO use with benefits derived from adoption including broader impacts such as food security. Impacts on food security and sustainability can be positive or negative and thus we cannot focus on harm only. This implies also including the potential impact on innovation, technology release and thus on those potential benefits (and adverse effects) that may accrue to society in general. The later will include assessing the impacts of biosafety and other regulations on these issues.