Call for review of bio-safety rules

Researchers want the local bio-safety regulatory framework reviewed to enable them carry out research on Genetically Modified Organs (GMOs).

This came to the fore at the seventh open forum for agricultural biotechnology at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) COSTECH in collaboration with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) organised it for academia, policy makers, farmers and the general public to the seventh monthly Meeting of the Open Forum.

Dr Joseph Ndunguru, an experienced molecular plant virologist and the principal investigator of a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project entitled, ‘Cassava genetic transformation for the longevity of cassava virus resistance in Tanzania’, presented a paper on ‘agricultural biotechnology for africa’s development’.

Dr Ndunguru, from Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute said several advancements have been made recently in Africa towards biotechnology application, with Plant biotechnology being highlighted as having the potential to contribute to the food security and poverty alleviation goals.

“In Tanzania for example it fits within a target of increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring food security as stipulated in KILIMO KWANZA and MKUKUTA,” he said. 

Currently, there is divided opinion in the cotton industry on whether the strict liability clause in bio-safety regulatory framework be removed to increase output of the crop.

The contestable clause in the bio-safety regulatory framework ensures that even if GMOs were to be introduced, the companies supplying them would be accountable in case anything wrong happens.

Dr David Mchome said the existing technologies should be taken to local farmers so that they benefit from them. He cited the wealth of knowledge at the Sokoine University of Agriculture.
Source: The Daily News, www.dailynews.co.tz, reported by Orton Kiishweko in Dar es Salaam 
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