East African Scientists and Regulators attended an advanced biosafety course
On November 4-13, a 10-day course, organized by IPBO in collaboration with UGent and CIP (International Potato Center), took place in Entebbe, Uganda.
This course was funded with support of VLIR-UOS, the Iternational Potato Center, the 2 Blades Foundation, Ghent University and the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB).
With the potato and resistance to late blight as a case study, the course covered in a first part the scientific and biotechnological aspects to obtain improved varieties. The course also treated the regulatory and biosafety issues of agricultural biotechnology in the east-African region and finally dedicated a section on the art and tricks of science and risk communication.
The 20 workshop participants came from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania or Rwanda. Eighteen of them were sponsored by the VLIR-UOS fellowship from Belgium. Participants were representing a broad spectrum of professionals, working in the field of biotechnology, as scientists or as regulators at governmental or nonprofit organizations within the east-African region.
The first session outlined the different agricultural challenges, the ongoing crop improvement research and possible solutions for the future. This session was concluded with a visit to GM banana confined field trials in Kawanda, Yganda, to materialize the regulatory requirements.
In the second part of the course, participants received a global overview of the regulatory and risk assessment principles. A final section focused on the science and risk communication. The ISAAA team organized practical exercises including a Mock TV interview and a press conference on the GMO topic