Monitoring evolution of regulatory environment for GM crops in Africa

AATF aims to:
  • Follow the evolution of the regulatory landscape for GM crops in Africa over the coming years and produce annual status reports
  • Continuously monitor and document the evolution of regulatory frameworks for GM crops in African countries
  • Generate information and knowledge that will guide the targeting of technology transfer as well as R&D efforts on GM crops to areas where their benefits can be better harnessed while their risks, if any, are minimised

Background and Significance of Regulations in GM Technology

Status of GM Regulations in AfricaMost African countries have signed and ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity. An equally high number of countries (39 countries as of December 2006) have ratified the protocol meaning they have agreed to taking necessary and appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to implement its obligations … to ensure that the development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces the risks to biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. Put simply, this translates to agreeing on developing functional National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs) to oversee the development and utilisation of GM products. Although the components of NBFs may vary from country to country, they typically tend to have the following elements:

  • Existence of policy on biotechnology and/or biosafety;
  • Regulatory regime for biosafety (such as law(s), decrees, regulations and guidelines);
  • A system for handling notifications/requests for permits; and
  • A mechanism for public information and public participation.
Based on the above criteria, AATF undertook in 2006 to assess the status of NBFs in African countries in order to determine the level of preparedness in handling GM crops and their products on the continent. The outcome of this effort will give an account of the status of regulations for GM crops and clearly show those countries that have developed NBFs well enough to invest in modern biotechnology for agricultural development while at the same time singling out those requiring additional support, capacity and time to put their acts together in this field. Monitoring the evolution of regulatory frameworks as is intended here is expected to guide the targeting of R&D efforts on GM crops to areas where their benefits can be better harnessed while their risks if any are minimised.
Status of Regulations for GM crops Sub-Saharan Africa

The report provides an in-depth account of progress made regarding developing NBFs and the status of regulations for GM crops in African countries as at December 2006.

Regulatory News
Biosafety law translated in local languages of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso has translated the National Biosafety Law into the three most commonly spoken languages (Mooré, Jula and Gulmacema) in the cotton growing areas.
Kenya launches National Biosafety Authority Board
Kenya's Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology William Ruto launched the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Board on 13 May 2010.
Nigerian Biotechnology Bill is moving very fast
The Draft of Nigeria Biosafety Bill arrived the National Assembly on January 2009 and it has passed through the Second Reading, Public Hearing, Collection and Retreat sessions at the House of Representatives - Full article at Elombah.com.

 

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