Africa shares policy and public acceptance initiatives for agricultural biotechnology
Public awareness and acceptance on agricultural biotechnology continuous to improve as products of agricultural biotechnology and biotech regulatory policies move forward in Africa. This was shared by Dr. Margaret Karembu, Director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter
, in a Special Seminar held at the SEAMEO Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Los Baños, Philippines last October 2
010. African farmers appreciate agricultural biotechnology products, and are ready to be involved when they are introduced to something that could improve their lives, said Dr. Karembu.
Africa has "harmonized" their biosafety policies with the Regional Economic Communities (REC) exemplified by forming the Regional Approach to Biotechnology and Biosafety Policies in Eastern and Southern Africa (RABESA), which covers 19 member states. The RABESA has helped tailor fit biosafety policies to the different countries based on identified priority areas which are the commercial planting, commercial trade policy, and emergency food aid access to GM crops and GM produces. Dr. Karembu reported that at present, 12 countries in Africa have already developed National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs), while 11 have interim NBFs.
According to Dr. Karembu, the factors that would determine the future of biotechnology in Africa include: a proactive policy where priorities are identified and decisions are suited for Africas needs; an efficient and cost effective biosafety system that would effectively assess biotechnologies; scientific capacity buildings; an IPR regime to encourage private small seeds companies to invest in the technology; and public awareness and acceptance initiatives that build on credible and evidence-based communication.