Although Lebanon ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994 and the Cartagena Protocol in 2008, it has not yet adopted policies dealing with genetically modified organisms. While there are some existing laws that are indirectly relevant to this subject matter it is fair to say that no comprehensive legal regime on this issue exists at this time.
Lebanon is a small country but has a lot of biodiversity due to its geography, which includes mountains, plains, and seashores, with at least three different climates. However, Lebanon appears to have not yet adopted any policies or legislation, either restrictive or permissive, on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite having ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity by Law No. 360 of 1994 and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity by Law No. 31 of 2008.
II. Public and Scholarly Opinion
The public in Lebanon has apparently not been seriously engaged on issues of national biosafety. When the Ministry of Environment collaborated with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on a project for the development of a National Biosafety Framework for Lebanon in 2004/2005 they conducted, as stated in the final report on the project, awareness-raising activities in universities, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in order to ensure public participation. However, no information is available regarding public views on the development or use of GMOs.
There has also not been much discussion of the subject matter in scholarly literature produced in Lebanon. A search for such materials located reference to one recent paper, which was prepared by a professor of the faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the Lebanese University and presented at the Conference on Biosecurity and Biosafety Strategy in Case of Biological, Chemical or Nuclear Crisis held in Beirut from January 22 to 26, 2013.
A similar paper by the same author was included in a 2010 report prepared in conjunction with a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional project entitled “Strengthening capacities towards the establishment of a regional platform for the detection of genetically modified organisms.” In this paper the author confirms that “there is no official policy or strategy for biotechnology in Lebanon” and identifies the main gaps affecting the development of genetic engineering as follows:
- The absence of a national strategy addressing the use of biotechnology in the agricultural sector.
- The lack of cooperation between academia, research, industry and government.
- The absence of biosafety legislations.
- The absence of appropriate infrastructure (glasshouses and others) to pursue the studies on GM plants after the first laboratory tests vis-à-vis transgenes.
- The deficiency of human skills specialized in genetic engineering.
- The lack of funds.
III. Structure of Pertinent Legislation
As mentioned above, Lebanon has not yet adopted a comprehensive national policy on GMOs. However, there are laws that may be indirectly related to the subject matter. For example, the National Biosafety Framework report identifies the following legislative instruments as relevant to biosafety:
- Ordinance No. 3044 of 1925, which authorizes control of insects and diseases affecting plants;
- Decree No. 4396 of 1939, which provides for the compulsory fight against insects and diseases affecting citrus fruits;
- A law dated June 10, 1948 and Ministerial Ordinance No. 283/1 of 1998 related to agricultural quarantine; and
- Ministerial Ordinance No. 18/1 of 1997 concerning the vaccination of imported live animals.
IV. Restrictions on Research, Production, and Marketing
There are apparently not yet any specific restrictions on the research, production, or marketing of food, feed, or medicines containing GMOs. A presentation about Lebanon at the 1st International Workshop on Harmonisation of GMO Detection and Analysis in MENA Region, held in Jordan on June 4 and 5, 2012, asserted that “[p]resently there is no laws or decrees against the consumption of food or feed containing GMOs or the use of medicines containing GMOs.”
V. Restrictions on Releasing Organisms into the Environment
As mentioned above, it does not appear that Lebanon has specific legislative instruments related to the releasing of GMOs into the environment. However, the Environmental Protection Law No. 444 of 2002 has provisions that may be relied upon to order such restrictions. For example, chapter 8 of that Law requires the protection of biodiversity, nature and genetic heritage from any influencing activity.
VI. Restrictions on GMOs in Foodstuff
The only restriction located on GMOs in foodstuff is provided for in paragraph 4 of article 14 of the Law on Plant Quarantine and Phytosanitary Measures No. 778 of 2006. This instrument prohibits the importation of genetically modified plants or their derivative products if such modifications endanger or cause damage to humans, animals, or plants.
VII. Liability Regime
Lebanon does not have a special liability regime to compensate for damages caused by GMOs. Any such damages are to be addressed through tort law as contained in the Obligations and Contracts Code, articles 121 to 139.
VIII. Judicial Decisions
No relevant judicial decisions were located in the limited number of court reports available as a part of the Lebanese collection at the Law Library of Congress.
Issam M. Saliba
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
 Law No. 360 of 1994, http://www.moe.gov.lb/getattachment/2270bcc2-d961-426b-b780-8055b1a6dd18/قرار -رقم -360-ابرام -اتفاقية -الامم -المتحدة -للتنوع -ال .aspx (in Arabic).
 Law No. 31 of 2008, al-Jaridah al-Rasmiyah [Official Gazette] No. 44 of 2008, http://www.pcm.gov.lb/Cultures/ar-LB/Menu/الجريدة الرسمية/الإصدارات السابقة /Pages/jolist.aspx (in Arabic; select relevant date and volume number).
 Lamis Chalak Soukarie, Genetically Modified Organisms and Biosafety: Current Status in Lebanon, Presentation at the Conference on Biosecurity & Biosafety Strategy in Case of a Biological, Chemical or Nuclear Crisis, Beirut (Jan. 2013), http://www.bbic-network.org/Uploads/Document/Genetically%20Modified%20Organisms%20 (GMOs)%20and%20Biosafety%20Current%20Status%20in%20Lebanon.pdf.
 Id. at 57.
 Sattout et al., supra note 3, at 34; see also Chalak, supra note 5, at 59–62, listing various existing laws related to agriculture and animal health, environment and biodiversity, health protection, food safety, and trade and customs the implementation of which “could have beneficial repercussions on biosafety in Lebanon.” Id. at 59.
 Gretta Abou Sleymane & Lamis Chalak, Status and Experiences Related to the Implementation of GMO Legislation in Lebanon, Presentation at the 1st International Workshop on Harmonisation of GMO Detection and Analysis in MENA Region, Dead Sea, Jordan (June 2012), http://gmo-crl.jrc.ec.europa.eu/capacitybuilding/ docsworkshops/Jordan-2012/LEBANON.pdf.
 Sattout et al., supra note 3, at 34.
 Law on Plant Quarantine and Phytosanitary Measures No. 778 of 2006, Official Gazette No. 58 of 2008, p. 6577, http://www.pcm.gov.lb/Cultures/ar-LB/Menu/الجريدة الرسمية/الإصدارات السابقة /Pages/jolist.aspx (in Arabic; select relevant date and volume number).
Last Updated: 04/30/2014