Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have signed agreements and resolutions stating that gene-edited organisms that do not fulfill the definition of GMOs should be regulated as conventional. All three countries are actively discussing, harmonizing and deciding on a case-by-case basis how products of gene editing will be regulated.
In 2018, Honduras, Guatemala and 11 other nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil and the US, issued a joint statement to the World Trade Organization supporting relaxed regulations for plant gene editing, stating that governments should “avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions” between crops developed through gene editing and crops developed through conventional breeding. The ministries agreed to avoid obstacles without a scientific basis for the commercialization of products improved by genome editing, exchange information about products’ developments and applicable regulations and explore opportunities for regional harmonization. The agreement does not specifically mention gene-edited animals, which many countries regulate more strictly than crops.
In 2019, the three countries signed an inter-ministerial agreement to streamline the research and commercialization of organisms developed through biotechnology. The agreement requires that each country create a national advisory committee for the risk assessment evaluation of living modified organisms for agricultural use. The agreement also defines “novel combination of new genetic material”, setting the legal basis to define gene-edited products as conventional.
In 2019, Honduras published a resolution to establish a streamlined authorization procedure for organisms developed using new breeding techniques (NBTs). El Salvador is expected to follow Honduras’ lead.
- Fruit fly research: Researchers from IAEA Technical Cooperation in Guatemala and from the US used CRISPR to study how gene editing can be used to address destructive agricultural pests.
2019: Honduras publishes agreement to treat gene editing techniques as equivalent to conventional breeding.
2019: Inter-ministerial agreement RT 65:06.01:18 between Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador proposes a streamlined system for the commercialization of crops developed through biotechnology, including a requirement that each country creates a national advisory committee, for the risk assessment evaluation of living modified organisms for agricultural use.
2018: Honduras, Guatemala and 11 other nations issue a joint statement supporting agricultural applications of precision biotechnology, stating that governments should “avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions between end products derived from precision biotechnology and similar end products, obtained through other production methods.”
2018: Draft genetic engineering regulation submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by Guatemala and Honduras seeks to harmonize the testing and commercialization of genetically engineered plants and animals, but the regulation is not intended for innovative biotechnologies like gene editing. It is restrictive of all living modified organisms (LMOs) and requires a confined trial, field experimental trial, and a pre-commercial trial, before attempting a commercial release.
2018: Honduras publishes Guide of Processes and Procedures of the Regulatory System for “Genetically Modified Organisms,” which provides users with procedures to follow in field test, pre-commercial, and commercialization stages of production.
2018: El Salvador concludes GEF program to implement a regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology, which includes guidelines for technical rulings regarding consumption of genetically engineered organisms.
2017: Honduras’ National Biotechnology and Agricultural Biosafety Committee is created (CNBBA) as part of the National Service of Agrifood Health and Safety (SENASA).
2014: Presidential Decree 207-2014, overseen by the Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), establishes the national policy on genetically engineered organisms, which acts as a disincentive to use biotechnology in agriculture and food production.
2008: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified by Honduras, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.
2004: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified by Guatemala, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.
2003: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified by El Salvador, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.
1998: El Salvador passes Environment Law, which provides regulations for environmental impact studies determining if genetically engineered organisms are harmful to the environment.