Socio-economic aspects in decision-making in the context of the biosafety protocol: Malaysia’s experience and case studies

Socio-economic considerations are important components for careful decision-making to ensure that society enjoys the benefits of modern technology while minimising or avoiding its potential costs. However, in many parts of the world, information and analysis of the social and economic impacts of modern biotechnology are lagging behind. There is little experience in dealing with these issues in actual decision-making processes. The aim of this article is to highlight the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on socio-economic onsiderations and to share Malaysia’s experience in establishing a legal framework based on the Biosafety Act 2007 including designing and implementing policies and mechanisms that incorporate socio-economic considerations into decision-making as per the requirement under the Cartagena Protocol. The article also highlights experiences prior to coming into force of the Biosafety Act and the efforts made in institutionalising socio-economic considerations after the Act was enforced. Specific cases are presented where clear socio-economic considerations were taken into account in arriving at decisions.