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
This course was an excellent opportunity for regulators and scientists to network, discuss and discover the different aspects related to the potential implementation of biotechnological crops on the African continent.