Crop Biotech Update

COMESA Drafts Harmonized Biotech Policies

September 16, 2010

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is set to bring policies that would regulate commercial planting and trade of genetically modified (GM) crops.  Dr. Belay Getachew, senior biotechnology policy advisor of COMESA, announced that they are currently in the advance stage in the development of guidelines, which includes policies on transfer of emergency food aid with GMO content.

Member states in the region do not have a harmonized policy on procurement of food aid with GM content, thus they included in the draft guidelines trading of approved GM seeds. Arthur Makara, executive director of Scifode and one of the experts involved in drafting the guidelines, said that if the originating and the receiving environments are similar, then trading of approved GM seeds must be allowed especially during situations that need immediate food aid to save lives.

"The new rules will also accelerate the adoption of the technology with enormous potential in reducing problems associated with food insecurity, meager household income and vulnerability resulting from climate change," he added.

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