Business News of 2014-07-22

Ghana’s progress in biotech, model for Africa - Top scientist

Ghana’s progress towards setting up robust biotech policy is a an excellent model that other African countries can emulate, Africa Harvest Chief Executive Officer, Dr Florence Wambugu, said at sixth African Nutritional and Epidemiology Conference (ANEC).

She was speaking at a public engagement forum on Genetically Modified Foods and Nutrition organized by the Africa Nutrition Society (ANS). The session brought together scientists and renowned subject experts, health professionals, academics, politicians and policy makers, religious leaders, lay people, students and the general public to examine and have an informed debate on applications of biotechnology in general and particularly Genetic Modified Foods as a contributor to Africa’s food and nutrition security problems.

Dr Wambugu said “Ghana has, step by step, build a strong regulatory system, based on historically strong legal systems and a strong adherence to the rule of law”.

She noted that in the last five years, the regulatory system has seen the approval of five GM trials. “This confirms that you cannot build strong regulatory systems in a vacuum. By putting forward these applications to the regulators, Ghanaian researchers and technology developers have helped develop the system,” Dr Wambugu said.

“Ghana has also developed excellent biotech infrastructure, including a new ultra-modern biotech lab at the Crop Research Institute, in addition to facilities at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Centre and the Ghana Atomic Commission,” said Dr. Wambugu.

“As the country has built the physical infrastructure, it has also developed strong scientific and other human capacities,” Dr Wambugu noted. “She said it was enviable that the country has over 70 scientists trained in modern biotech techniques”.

“Countries in the region and other African countries can learn from what Ghana has done. The build up to a National Biosafety Authority is supported by strong fundamentals that will ensure the country develops a Ghana-specific strategy that uses biotechnology to deal with the country’s challenges,” Dr Wambugu said.

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