World Bank Report Urges African Countries to Harmonize Biosafety Regulation
A new report released by the World Bank in June is calling for Africa's regional blocks to harmonize the guidelines for assessing biosafety risks. The report titled: Status and impact of biosafety regulation in developing economies since the ratification of the Cartagena Protocol notes that regional harmonization would be useful especially in helping countries lacking sufficient human, institutional, and financial resources to operate a regulatory system.
The report also cites that harmonization is likely to lead to the enticement for product developers to invest in the resulting common market if the costs of achieving regulatory compliance become competitive. "Regulatory harmonization may also be the most effective means of mitigating the trade consequences of asynchronous approvals," a section of the report reads.
The report cites on going efforts on regional harmonization by regional blocks like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) as examples to be emulated. It also notes that the failed attempt to harmonize regulations between Canada and the USA as a missed opportunity that African countries can learn from and approach harmonization in better ways.
Harmonization of biosafety regulations could include recognizing scientific opinions arising from risk assessments by other regulatory authorities, establishing regional approaches to risk assessment, or—more ambitiously—adopting decisions taken by other governments.
Copies of the report can be downloaded at http://bch.cbd.int/database/record.shtml?documentid=103611. For information on biotechnology in Africa, contact Margaret Karembu of ISAAA AfriCenter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)