The two-day APEC workshop: Strengthening Innovation and Cooperation among APEC Economies to Advance Science and Facilitate Trade (HLPDAB 01 2016T) was conducted on the margins of the HLPDAB 15 Meeting to discuss functioning current regulatory practices, including practical examples of regulatory compatibility/convergence/harmonization; and the sharing of resources including recognition policies and agreements.

The workshop was divided into six sessions and focused on five areas:

  1. Biosafety regulations: increasing trade between APEC economies, including a review of best practices and opportunities for functioning biosafety systems and how we can eliminate asynchronous approvals;
  2. Low level presence (LLP): considerations of practical approaches to facilitating food and feed trade;
  3. Seed trade: quality standards, LLP and enhancing trade among APEC economies;
  4. How economies can practically maintain biodiversity while embracing biotechnology; and
  5. New plant breeding techniques: fostering innovation, adoption, and use.

Key outcomes and messages from the workshop include the following:

  1. Biosafety regulation must be science-based, must facilitate trade, and should incorporate “homogenization, harmonization and synchronization” initiatives. The portability of data and efficient mechanisms for exchanging information are a key element. As Chair of HLPDAB 2016, Peru, proposed for the development of a roadmap and working group to move these issues forward in APEC.
  2. LLP is unavoidable and is getting more frequent. It is urgent to develop practical policies for LLP management. Threshold setting could be a practical approach (where domestic laws permit). APEC should also look into the Global Low Level Presence Initiative (GLI) or adopt its definition.
  3. Seed trade is significantly different from grain trade. Intellectual property issues are more influential with LLP in seed trade. LLP in seed is becoming more costly and complicated to manage.
  4. Confusion between BIODIVERSITY and BIOSAFETY, based on the interpretation of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of the Convention on Biological Diversity do exist. The possible contribution of biodiversity is overestimated and safety of “the natural” is overvalued. It is important to correctly define and evaluate “harm.”
  5. Overregulation is not desired. It could stop the development of new breeding techniques. The private sector considers nanobiotechnology should not be regulated; faster approvals are required. Differences in regulatory processes increase time and costs. For that, common criteria must be established.