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BUSINESS & POLICY: U.S. Department of State promotes GE crops for fighting hunger and poverty in Gambia



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   POLICYMAKERS BRAINSTORM ON BIOTECHNOLOGY

SOURCE:  Foroyaa, Gambia

AUTHOR:  Awa B. Bah

URL:     http://www.foroyaa.gm/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7864

DATE:    18.09.2011

SUMMARY: "The US Embassy in Banjul on Thursday the 15th of September 2011 held a one day outreach seminar on Biotechnology for policymakers in the Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on the theme ?Using Biotechnology to fight hunger and poverty in Africa?. The United States Department of State has arranged for an expert on biotechnology to visit a number of West African countries to speak to policymakers, farmers and members of the scientific community on the use of biotechnology to promote agricultural production and achieve food self sufficiency. The Gambia is one of the countries included in the tour."

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POLICYMAKERS BRAINSTORM ON BIOTECHNOLOGY

The US Embassy in Banjul on Thursday the 15th of September 2011 held a one day outreach seminar on Biotechnology for policymakers in the Gambia at the Kairaba Beach Hotel on the theme ?Using Biotechnology to fight hunger and poverty in Africa?. The United States Department of State has arranged for an expert on biotechnology to visit a number of West African countries to speak to policymakers, farmers and members of the scientific community on the use of biotechnology to promote agricultural production and achieve food self sufficiency. The Gambia is one of the countries included in the tour.

Delivering the opening address, Cynthia Gregg Charge d? Affaires at the US Embassy said she is very excited to have Dr. Dodo in the Gambia because agricultural biotechnology has great potential in the process of addressing the challenges of food insecurity. Food production, she said must doubled by 2050 to meet the needs of a growing world and it must do so in a more sustainable manner. Biotechnology, she said, is one of many new technologies that have raised the efficiency and productivity of agricultural resources over the last decade. While not a cure, it is part of a package of new technologies that will increase agricultural production and result in poverty reduction.

She remarked, ?In the last twelve years, more than 800 million hectares of biotechnology crops have been planted around the world,? adding that in 2009, over two dozen countries grew biotechnology crops on their soil.

This, she said, is not just a technology for large agribusinesses. Gregg said in 2009, some 14 million small and resource-poor farmers in the developing world benefited from biotechnology crop, 90% of the world?s farmers. Biotech, she revealed, offers the potential to help developing countries attack the cycle of poverty, addressing food security needs and improve farmers? lives and incomes.

?In India conservative estimates for small scale farmers indicate that use of biotech cotton has increased yield by 31%, decreased insecticide application by 39%, and increased profitability by 88%?, said Gregg.

Biotech crops, she said, can play an important role through increasing productivity while decreasing costs of production by a reduced need for inputs and ploughing. In addition, she said, the adoption of biotech crops has significantly reduced insecticide use and has allowed many farmers to adopt farming practices that reduce soil erosion and consumption of energy and water.

Besides economic, food security and environmental benefits, agricultural biotechnology, she noted, can also play a role in climate change. Gregg said there are permanent savings in carbon dioxide (CO2) emission through reduced use of fossil-based fuels, associated with less insecticide, adding that in 2008, due to biotech savings, the world?s air experienced the equivalent of removing approximately 7 million cars from the road.

The current famine in Somalia, she said, is a tragedy. According to her, Associated Press reports that 29,000 children have died since this famine started and the UN reports that another 400,000 people are at risk of death. She advised participants to make critical decisions about food security, environment and climate change.

In her statement, Ada Gaye, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture said agriculture in West Africa is still unable to meet the local food requirement, adding that nearly forty million people suffer from food insecurity everyday. Production growth, noted in most of the countries, she said, is due to an increase in acreages than yield increases. She said the lack of control over climate change, the land tenure insecurity, the lack of credit and agricultural inputs are all elements in the producer environment that slow down investment, modernization and intensification of the production.

?The ministerial conference of the ECOWAS countries on biotechnology held in Bamako in 2005 adopted a series of guidelines and recommendation for ECOWAS work out in consultation with CORAF/WECARD and CILSS and action plan for the development of biotechnologies, the adoption of regional approaches on bio-safety and the promotion of information with the stakeholders?, she revealed. Biotechnology application, she said, can supplement more conventional agricultural practices and scientifically contribute to agricultural production increase in the developing countries. She said various studies undertaken in West Africa shows that the ECOWAS zone has a huge biodiversity potential, the basin necessary for a sustainable development of biotechnology. The region, she said, has a scientific and technical basin which is certainly insufficient, but can help initiate a development process of the sector at the country and sub-regional level. Modern technology, she said, still remains very t
 imid, adding that there is a lot to do to be ale to make most of the benefits of biotechnology in particular what modern technology offers. The Ministry of Agriculture will intend its support and encouragement to any effort geared towards the effective implementation of a biotechnology programme in the Gambia.

The speaker for the outreach seminar is Dr. Hortense Dodo, professor and Fulbright scholar from Elizabeth city, North Carolina. Dr. Dodo is an Ivorian by birth who taught food biotechnology and molecular biology at Alabama A&M University. She is currently the president of a biotech startup company with a focus on R&D and commercialization of transgenic agricultural crops. She is brought by the Economic Bureau of the U.S. Department of State.

[you find more at: http://www.tanconf.org/usa/s_hortenseD.php]



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   VALIDATION OF LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON BIOSAFETY UNDERWAY

SOURCE:  Foroyaa, Gambia

AUTHOR:  Annia Gaye

URL:     http://www.foroyaa.gm/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6567

DATE:    09.04.2011

SUMMARY: "The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission is organising a four day National Consultative workshop of the preliminary draft of the sub regional Legal Framework on Biosafety which commenced on the 5 April at the LAICO Atlantic Hotel in Banjul. The purpose of national consultation is for the review and improvement of the Draft of the sub-regional legal Framework on biosafety in West Africa. Mr. Ernest Aubee, the Head of the Agriculture Division in the ECOWAS Commission in Nigeria, said modern biotechnology is capable of having both positive and negative consequences."

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VALIDATION OF LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON BIOSAFETY UNDERWAY

The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission is organising a four day National Consultative workshop of the preliminary draft of the sub regional Legal Framework on Biosafety which commenced on the 5 April at the LAICO Atlantic Hotel in Banjul. The purpose of national consultation is for the review and improvement of the Draft of the sub-regional legal Framework on biosafety in West Africa.

Mr. Ernest Aubee, the Head of the Agriculture Division in the ECOWAS Commission in Nigeria, said modern biotechnology is capable of having both positive and negative consequences.

Mr. Aubee said it is positive because it represents an enormous scientific potential of promoting and providing solutions to such urgent needs for food, health, agriculture, sanitation, and others. The negatives, he said, are that without some precaution in its management, it has significant risks to the environment, human and animal health and socio-economic impacts.

?In order to prevent these risks, the international community adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to which most member states of ECOWAS are Parties today? said the Head of the ECOWAS Commission Agriculture Division.

Mr. Aubee said in March 2007 the ministers of ECOWAS member states have adopted an action plan on development of biotechnology and biosafety in the sub-region and which included among others the development of a biosafety framework The process of this framework, he said, has started between the Commission of ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS and that WAEMU, which is launching a similar initiative and whose eight member states are also members of ECOWAS, was invited.

The Head of the ECOWAS Commission Agriculture Division said subsequent consultation meetings at the highest level between the three institutions led to the adoption of a joint roadmap and that a tripartite team was set up to propose a draft of the Biosafety framework for Wes Africa at the end of 2010.

?Today we have the honour to submit to your attention, the preliminary draft of that text for your comments and recommendations for improvement? said Mr. Aubee.

He reminded the meeting that the national consultation is taking place after the COP/MOP5 on the Cartagena Protocol and COPIO on the Convention of Biological Diversity held last October in Nagoya Japan.

At these two meetings, he said, the world adopted the additional Protocol NAGOYA- KUALA LUMPUR on Liability and Compensation and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing related to the use of genetic resources.

He concluded that where necessary the provisions of the two instruments will be taken into account in their discussion to reach consensus on the content in the framework.

He thanked all their technical and financial partners for their support in the process including the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

In his opening statement, Mr. Jato Sillah, the Minister of Forestry and the Environment, said the forum was meant to validate the preliminary draft of the sub-regional draft of the legal framework on biosafety, and also to make a broad communication on the official process of importation and exportation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) at the national level.

He commended ECOWAS for supporting the sub-region to have one legal framework on biosafety, adding that the initiative will help the Gambia to increase its protection status on the side of GMOs and LMOs.

Minister Sillah said biotechnology has been applied traditionally in the foods and beverages as well as the human and animal medicine fields.

The advancement of Science about two decades or so ago, said the Forestry and Environment Minister, has seen the development of genetic engineering enabling the use of recombinant DNA techniques to make combinations of heritable material capable of continued propagation through normal reproduction processes, hence the GMOs and LMOs. He said this development has taken breeding a step further and allowed the transfer of genetic material beyond natural barriers. He noted the mixed reaction to this development as some welcome it as a breakthrough while others are worried as to what the impact would be in the receiving environment such as disease vectors crossing natural barriers and becoming more virulent etc.

?There are worries of disease vectors being enable to cross natural barrier, possibly becoming more virulent as well as fear of GMOs transferring their transgenic characteristics to non target organisms through cross pollination or though feeding, with unpredictable results?, Minister Sillah said.

He added that there are genuine hopes as well as genuine fears and hence the need to strike a balance between the perils and promises.

Minister Sillah said the general worldwide consensus on modern biology is that although not a panacea to all the challenges, it could however play a key role in providing useful products in agriculture, animal husbandry, medicine, food production and processing and environmental protection, if applied judiciously with the necessary safety measures and precautions. The measures used for ensuring the safe development, transfer and application of Modern biotechnology is Biosafety, said the Minister.

?It is of paramount importance to hold the workshop for stakeholders at the national level especially after development of the Gambia?s National Biosafety Framework and Draft Bill which is the supporting legal instrument which will be presented before the National Assemby...?said the Minister of Forestry and the Environment.

He added that what is left now at the national level is the finalization of the Gambia draft Act in relation to Biotechnology and the undertaking to sensitize stakeholders.

?There is no doubt that sooner or later, we in the Gambia may now or later, have to apply biotechnology in various fields of development, be it agriculture, medicine or industry, in order to provide the needs of our people?, concluded Minister Sillah.



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:   JOURNALIST SENSITIZED ON BIO-SAFETY CLEARING HOUSE (BCH)

SOURCE:  Foroyaa, Gambia

AUTHOR:  Pateh Baldeh

URL:     http://www.foroyaa.gm/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4525&keywords=biosafety

DATE:    22.02.2010

SUMMARY: "A one day sensitization workshop for journalists on the Biosafety Clearing House was held at the Boabab Holiday Resort on the 17th February 2010. The objective of the workshop, according to the organizers, is to raise awareness among national stakeholders on the use of BCH, with focus on journalists. [...] The Convention on Biological Diversity is the ?Parent Body? to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and that the implementation of the parent body, the CBD, requires parties to the Convention to take measures to regulate and manage or to control the risks associated with the use and release of GMOs into the environment."

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JOURNALIST SENSITIZED ON BIO-SAFETY CLEARING HOUSE (BCH)

A one day sensitization workshop for journalists on the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) was held at the Boabab Holiday Resort on the 17th February 2010. The objective of the workshop, according to the organizers, is to raise awareness among national stakeholders on the use of BCH, with focus on journalists.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director at the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management Mr. Sheriff Jallow emphasised the important of the workshop citing the Gambia as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 and it Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) on 24 May 2000.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), he said, is the ?Parent Body? to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and that the implementation of the parent body, the CBD, requires parties to the Convention to take measures to regulate and manage or to control the risks associated with the use and release of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) into the environment.

The Director of Parks and Wildlife Management said the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international instrument that deals exclusively with GMOs.

Mr. Jallow said in 2007 the government of the Gambia through the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management of the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment has received funding from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) for the implementation of the BCH Project to build national capacity for effective participation in the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) and that the project is an add-on to the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Framework Project (NBF).

He said under the BCH project the DPWM as the Focal Point for the parent Convention, the CBD, will ensure that national mechanisms for participation in the BCH are set to operate beyond the scope and duration of the project which is 12 months and that this includes the establishment of a National Task Force on Biosafety as a body that would help in the implementation of the project.

Mr. Jallow concluded by encouraging participants to carefully follow the presentations by the various resources persons for the better understanding of the importance of the Protocol for subsequent dissemination of information to the public.

Presentations were made by Mr. Kawsu Jammeh (Jakata) PoWPA Gambia Project Manager, Environment Educations Officer Watson International Scholar of Environment, Mr. Alagi Manjang; the Project Focal Person, Abdoulie Saho and Dr. Ebrima Njie; Senior Lecturer at the University of The Gambia.

The Foroyaa will be publishing the presentations in subsequent publications.

The workshop was very interactive as it allows participants to make their contributions and questions.