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9-Misc: Cameroon university receives GMO detection technology

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

TITLE:  UB Receives FCFA 14 Million Biotech Equipment
SOURCE: The Post, Cameroon, by Francis Tim Mbom
DATE:   25 Aug 2005

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UB Receives FCFA 14 Million Biotech Equipment

The Secretary General in the Ministry of Environment and Nature
Protection, Patrick Kum Bong Akwa, recently handed over some modern lab
equipment to the University of Buea's Biotechnology Unit. The equipment
were valued at FCFA 14 million. While handing over the biotech gadgets
Kum Bong, who was representing the Minister of Environment and Nature
Protection, said the equipment were meant to complement the capacity of
the Biotechnology Unit to enable it conduct modern biotech work, ranging
from research through monitoring and the detection of genetically
modified organisms, GMOs.

 Kum Bong told the University of Buea authorities that if the equipment
are used with utmost care, they could go a long way to ensuring food
security in Cameroon as well as other health needs. "Cameroon is one of
the few African countries blessed with rich biological resources," the SG

"It is expected," he added, "that the equipment will be well maintained
and be useful when ever required.Present to receive the equipment on
behalf of the University was the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of
Research and Cooperation, Prof. Emmanuel Nges Chia.

"We are grateful and sincerely thank the UNEP/GEF Cameroon Biosafety
project through the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection for the
donation of equipment to enhance our capacity in modern biotechnology,"
Prof. Chia said.

According to Prof. Chia, the equipment included Eppendorf PCR machine,
which he said was the most recent, an electronic balance, a pH meter and
micropipettes. This will be used directly in the analysis and detection
of suspected GMOs entering Cameroon, he added.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor said the Biotech Unit of UB was opened in 1996
under the supervision of Prof. Vincent Titanji. So far, he added, the
Unit has trained and graduated 30 postgraduate students in the area of
tropical health biotechnology.

He hoped that with the provision of the equipment, the University was
going to make greater leaps in the training of more Cameroonians. The
occasion was one of the high points on the agenda of a three-day workshop
organised by the Ministry in collaboration

with the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, on the theme,
enhancing institutional capacity for biosafety and GMOs detection. It
took place at the Limbe Botanic Gardens for day one and day three while
day two was programmed at the University of Buea campus.

At the close of the three day session on Friday, August 12, the
participants resolved that for better GMO monitoring, detection,
assessment and management of the risks involved, the government should
reinforce the process of identifying GMOs in livestock, especially in the
imported ones.

For this purpose, they recommended the setting up of specialised
laboratories to this effect.They equally agreed that there was need to
train more people on GMO detection, this to build capacity.

Dr David Mbah, the Scientific Officer of the Biosafety Project, said the
participants were returning home fully armed with knowledge of the risks
and advantages of GMOS, both those produced with the use of conventional
methods and those out of modern biotech means.

As to some of the risks involved, he said the use of some GMO foods could
result in allergies and at times toxicity. There are ecological risks
that may culminate to increase fertility of land and survival while
reducing mortality.

But this increase in fertility, he added could generate and increase
pressure or the quest for more land which will ultimately means habitat
depletion, displacement of wildlife and other wild species which could
equally be of vital use to man.

Though he said there were no organisms produced in Cameroon that use the
modern biotech methods, he however said the university of Yaounde Biotech
unit and that in the University of Buea have the techno to produce GMOS.

Mary Fosi on behalf of the Minister, expressed satisfaction with the
output of the participants for the workshop. She encouraged them to go
and multiply the information they had gathered from the workshop to those
within and without their institutions.

The over 50 participants were drawn from the Ministry, NGOs, the Limbe
Botanic Gardens and others.


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