GENET archive


9-Misc: African Policy Dialogues on Biotechnology meets in Simbabwe

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  All Set for Biotech Meeting
SOURCE: The Herald, Simbabwe
DATE:   17 Sep 2004 

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All Set for Biotech Meeting

REGIONAL leaders and biotechnology scientists would be meeting in Harare
next week for a conference on African Policy Dialogues on Biotechnology

The Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network
(FANRPAN), International Food Policy Research Institution (IFPRI) has
organised the meeting in conjunction with New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD). FANRPAN is an organ of the Southern African
Development Committee.

The meeting to be held at a Harare hotel next week,would seek, among
other things, to create dialogue on biotechnological issues with the aim
of fostering a common regional stance on the contentious issues such as
genetically modified foods.

The first such meeting was held in South Africa in April last year. The
Minister of Science and Technology in the office of the president, Dr
Olivia Muchena would grace the meeting. Delegates would be drawn from
regional government officials, biotechnology groups, research scientists
and the private sector.

At the meeting, the delegates would tackle the issue of demystifying the
emerging industry and open it up to public debate. The dialogue would
also seek to take the debate on biotechnology to the consumers.

It would also deal with the issue of biosafety and intellectual property
protection. Mr Julius Mugwagwa, the managing director of the
Biotechnology Trust of Zimbabwe whose organisation would play a pivotal
role at the meeting said this was part of regional efforts to educate the
people about biotechnology.

"We are not saying people reject or accept biotechnology and its
products. We are simply saying people must make decisions based on
correct information," he said this week. Mugwagwa said there was need to
take the debate to the public arena where people would be educated about
the benefits and constraints of the industry.

"There has been a lot of polarisation surrounding this issue of
biotechnology and this is part of our regional effort to create dialogue."

He said the meeting was particularly important in light of the recurrent
drought in the Sadc region. "Because biotechnology might be an answer to
our food problems in times of drought, I believe the southern region
needs to establish a common understanding on Biotechnology products."

A common stance would also make it easier to regulate the industry.


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