The OECD work on chemical safety and biosafety is carried out under the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Programme within the Environment, Health and Safety Division of the Environment Directorate.
As of 1 January 2021, the OECD Council merged the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology to form the Chemicals and Biotechnology Committee (CBC). Therefore, the responsibility over the work carried out by the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology and its subsidiary bodies was transferred from the Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) to the CBC. The CBC will directly oversee and approve all of the work of the Environment, Health and Safety Programme.
The oversight and governance structure of the Environment, Health and Safety Programme has thereby been greatly simplified and streamlined. The CBC continues to collaborate closely with the Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) on other horizontal policy issues related to chemical safety, such as the interface between chemicals and waste policies.
The CBC committee has 12 working groups:
Working with governments outside the OECD is an important part of the EHS Programme. Experts from non-member economies often take part in its technical work which goes into the development of methods, guidelines, reports and other products.
Argentina, Brazil, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore and Thailand are full participants in the CBC for issues related to Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) and in the Working Parties of National Co-ordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme and on Good Laboratory Practice.
South Africa is a regular participant to the CBC and its subsidiary bodies. Argentina is a participant in the Working Party on the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and the Working Party on the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds.
Several other partner countries take part in the work of specific subsidiary bodies.
Many projects are carried out with other international organisations which represent non-member countries. A co-ordinating mechanism through the Inter-Organisational Programme on the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) ensures that duplication is avoided.
The CBC recognises the valuable contribution that non-governmental organisations make to EHS issues and attaches great importance to working with them. Representatives of environmental NGOs, business, and trade unions participate as invited experts in the CBC and subsidiary bodies, and in a range of activities under the CBC, including various expert meetings, conferences, workshops, etc.
Industry participation in the CBC activities is organised by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), while trade union representation is organised by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). The participation of environmental NGOs across the OECD is co-ordinated by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). The International Council for Animal Protection in OECD Programmes (ICAPO) participates as invited experts in meetings where issues relating to animal welfare are discussed.