National Node of the BCH

Bahamas BCH Mission Statement

The Bahamas became a party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on the 14th of April 2004.To ensure the health of citizens of The Bahamas and to safegaurd its biodiversity, by promoting sound decision making and careful management as it relates to the importation and use of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) for any purpose within the country, ensuring that there is harmony between national development and respect for nature while guaranteeing the protection of the civil rights of all citizens.

The objectives of this website are:

  • To inform the public about national policies, decisions and laws relating to biosafety
  • To educate the general public about biotechnology and trade in LMOs
  • To provide a forum for discussion on biotechnology and biosafety.
  • To facilitate trade with other countries by providing ready access to information regarding national mechanisms, government, the transboundary movment of LMOs

The Bahamas National Biosecurity Strategy, which is currently in draft form, aims to support these objectives. The project endevours to build national capacity for decision making with respect to Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) through mechanisms such as screening notifications and risk assessments. It also sought to increase public awareness on biotechnology and biosafety issues. The National Biosafety Framework (NBF) Project enabled The Bahamas to develop a national policy on biosafety and biosecurity. Such policies did not previously exist.

The Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) is an information exchange mechanism established by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to assist Parties to implement its provisions and to facilitate sharing of information on, and experience with, living modified organisms (LMOs). It assists Parties and other stakeholders in different ways in the implementation of the Protocol. For example, it provides a “one-stop shop” where users can readily access or contribute relevant biosafety-related information.

The BCH also facilitates scientific and technical cooperation between Parties and other relevant stakeholders, for example by allowing interested stakeholders to access or contribute information on existing biosafety capacity-building activities. For industry and other stakeholders the BCH allows easy access to information vital to their activities, including details of the national contacts, relevant laws and regulations governing LMO activities and the decisions and declarations made by Parties, especially with regard to transboundary movements.

Biosafety Issues for The Bahamas

There are many natural resources that are unique to The Bahamas such as pine forests and mangroves that make an important contribution to the natural biodiversity of the country. These environments have evolved over many thousands of years largely isolated from outside influences resulting in unique habitats that can be found nowhere else. There are species unique to The Bahamas such as the Nassau Grouper and the Abaco Parrot which need to be conserved and protected. While legislation to protect these species from overfishing and poaching does exist, there are no laws to protect these ecosystems from the products of modern biotechnology.

With the quick pace of scientific and technological advancement in the pharmaceutical and agro-food industries, there is an urgent need in The Bahamas, as a country of high biodiversity, to develop a National Strategy with respect to the use and trade of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) for economic and social benefit as well as part of country obligations under the Cartagena Protocol. By exchanging information through the BCH, The Bahamas hopes to develop a more transparent and holistic approach to the issue of biosafety.