Since the 1970s, advances in genetics that involved gene-splicing gave birth to the field of biotechnology. The CBD defines ’biotechnology as any technology that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use’ (CBD, 1992). ‘The mission of the biotechnology industry is to heal, fuel, and feed the world’.
However, these advances do not come without risks. There are concerns that genes from Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) inter alia, will transfer to wild relatives; there may be development of superweeds; that there may be a negative impact on fauna and flora; that pest resistance will increase. In addition, there are concerns that there will be a negative impact on sustainable agriculture, as again, LMOs indicate a dominance of large-scale industrialized agriculture.
Target 12 was formulated to assure biosafety and its actions include strengthening policy on biosafety; implementing biosafety master plan and formulating biosafety legislature; strengthening risk assessment and risk management capacity; developing and implementing legal instruments to protect native biodiversity; ensuring that human health is not at risk from new technologies;and promoting traditional alternatives in place of modern biotechnological applications.