domingo, 28 de junio de 2009

New from ACB: The Revised African Model Law on Biosafety and the African Biosafety Strategy

Dear friends and colleagues,

The African Centre for Biosafety is pleased to share a new briefing
paper: 'The Revised African Model Law on Biosafety and the African
Biosafety Strategy’ by Haidee Swanby.

Haidee Swanby of the African Centre for Biosafety, attended a meeting
hosted by the African Union during May 2009 in Arusha, Tanzania on
various biosafety initiatives of importance to the continent. In this
briefing paper, Haidee discusses the meeting and the issues and
challenges lying ahead for the continent.

The full text can be downloaded from:


South Africa threw caution to the wind and commercialised genetically
modified (GM) maize in 1997 – 2 years before any national
legislation to regulate biosafety came into force. The rest of Africa
took a much more cautious stance; it would take 11 years for another
African country to commercialise a GM crop, when Burkina Faso
commercialised GM cotton in 2008. Other countries in Africa will now
follow suit as the international community and agribusiness bully
Africa into adopting GM technology in the face of a global food crisis
and on the pretext of introducing GM climate crops. At the same time,
45 of the 52 African countries are now Parties to the Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety. These countries are in the process of
developing or have completed their domestic legal frameworks to permit
and regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The continent is
almost ripe for the mass sowing of GM seeds.

It is within this context that the African Union (AU) is revising the
African Model Law on Biosafety and developing a 20 year African
Biosafety Strategy, with the intention of harmonising biosafety laws
and procedures as a clear priority. An industrial agriculture agenda
is behind the harmonisation drive, heavily supported and pushed by
amongst others, the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) and the World Bank. The process also has the blessing of the
AU and it is envisioned that the Regional Economic Communities (RECs),
bodies that facilitate regional trade on the continent, will implement
the African Biosafety Strategy. The major thrust of the Strategy is to
harmonise laws and procedures for a pan-African biosafety system and
to assist in the development of regional “centres of excellence”.
The harmonisation of biosafety laws threatens to create a single GMO
conveyor belt throughout Africa; a one-stop GMO approval system that
bypasses case-by-case risk assessments and decision making on a
country-by-country basis. Although there is strong political will
within the AU to protect African biodiversity and society, powerful
industry lobbyists are using the harmonisation process to build
capacity and facilities for the advancement of GMOs on the continent,
thereby paving the way for a corporate-friendly legislative

Several meetings are being organised by the AU and hosted by the RECs
in the run up to the next Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the
Biosafety Protocol (MOP 5), to be held in Nagoya, Japan in October
2009. One of those preparatory meetings took place during the period
6-9 May 2009. The focus of the meetings was to present and discuss the
African Strategy on Biosafety, the revision of the Model Law on
Biosafety and mechanisms for harmonisation of biosafety procedures and
legislation for the continent. The ACB was one of the few NGOs
attending the meeting.

African Centre for Biosafety:

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