Regulatory challenges for GM crops in developing economies: the African experience

Francis Nang’ayo • Stella Simiyu-Wafukho • Sylvester O. Oikeh

Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

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Globally, transgenic or genetically modified (GM) crops are considered regulated products that are subject to regulatory oversight during transboundary movement, testing and environmental release. In Africa, regulations for transgenic crops are based on the outcomes of the historic Earth Summit Conference held in Rio, Brazil two decades ago, namely, the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the subsequent adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. To exploit the potential benefits of transgenic crops while safeguarding the potential risks on human health and environment, most African countries have signed and ratified the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Consequently, these countries are required to take appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to ensure that the handling and utilization of living modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that reduces the risks to humans and the environment. These countries are also expected to provide regulatory oversight on transgenic crops through functional national biosafety frameworks (NBFs). While in principle this approach is ideal, NBFs in most African countries are steeped in a host of policy, legal and operational challenges that appear to be at crosspurposes with the noble efforts of seeking to access, test and deliver promising GM crops for use by resource-limited farmers in Africa. In this paper we discuss the regulatory challenges faced during the development and commercialization of GM crops based on experiences from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

English
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