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The Cooperation Agreement concerning Biosafety
(Last revised: February 28, 2006 )


Hyperlink version of the Cooperation Agreement (Dutch - French)

The Cooperation Agreement between the Federal State and the Regions on the administrative and scientific co-ordination concerning Biosafety establishes a single scientific advisory system common to the Federal and Regional authorities. Thanks to this system, all scientific aspects related to the uses of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pathogens are assessed altogether in a coordinated way, independently of the specific concerned regulation(s).

The cooperation agreement aims at:
- transposing European Directives concerning GMOs and GMO-based products in an harmonised way;
- establishing a common scientific evaluation system between the federal State and the Regions for all biosafety-related matters;
- co-ordinating the implementation of the above-mentioned Directives at the regional, federal and international levels.


Legal basis

The Cooperation Agreement has been approved at Federal and Regional levels by specific legislation:
Federal State: Law of 3 March 1998 (Full text in Dutch - in French)
Flemish Region: Decree of 17 December 1997(Full text in Dutch - in French)
Walloon Region: Decree of 5 June 1997(Full text in Dutch - in French)
Brussels-Capital Region: Decree of 20 May 1998 (Full text in Dutch - in French)

The common scientific evaluation system is composed of the Biosafety Advisory Council and the Service of Biosafety and Biotechnology.

The Biosafety Advisory Council (BAC) advices the competent authorities about the safety of any activities using GMOs and pathogens, including genetic and ecological aspects related to biodiversity.
The missions, composition and functioning of the Council are described in article 5 to 11 of the Cooperation Agreement.
The Council can be consulted by the Regions or the SBB for the contained use activities (laboratories, greenhouses, animal husbandries, production plants). It must be consulted for the deliberate release of GMOs in the environment and the placing on the market of all GMOs and GMOs-based products.
The Council consists of representatives of the Regional and Federal authorities. It is assisted by experts in its scientific work. The secretariat of the Council is ensured by the SBB.

More information is available from the Web site of the Biosafety Advisory Council

The Service of Biosafety and Biotechnology (SBB) is composed of an administrative secretariat, a multidisciplinary group of scientists and a laboratory for biosafety research and expertise.
According to the Cooperation agreement (articles 12 and 18), the SBB is mainly in charge of the following practical tasks:

  • risk assessment of contained use activities: the SBB defines the specific normative criteria to be applied in a given installation on a case by case basis and advices the Regional authority about the licencing conditions from the biosafety viewpoint;
  • risk assessment of applications for the deliberate release of GMOs in the environment or for the placing on the market of GMOs, GMO-based or GMO-derived products, for which the SBB has been mandated by the Biosafety Advisory Council;
  • secretariat of the Biosafety Advisory Council;
  • proposal of protection measures related to human health and the environment, to the attention of the Biosafety Advisory Council or the authorities;
  • archiving of the biosafety dossiers and safeguard of confidential information;
  • communication of relevant information to the European Commission in the framework of the follow-up of EU Directives pertaining to GMOs;
  • scientific support to the Belgian delegation at international meetings.

More information is available from the "SBB Chapter" on this Web site

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