Position Statements on Biotechnology
International Society of African Scientists
Position Statement On Agricultural Biotechnology Applications In Africa And The Caribbean
The International Society of African Scientists (ISAS) held a technical conference on October 5, 2001, on the "Potential Benefits of Biotechnology to Agriculture in Africa and the Caribbean." The following position statement is based on the deliberations at this conference.
Application of modern biotechnology to agriculture in the advanced countries has already made possible significant crop improvements including insect-resistant corn and cotton, herbicide tolerant soybean; virus-resistant potatoes; delayed ripening tomatoes; and soybeans and corn with higher quality and content of oil and other food components. Africa and the Caribbean cannot afford to be left further behind in acquiring the uses and benefits of this new agricultural revolution.
ISAS further recommends the following specific priority measures for implementation of effective agricultural biotechnology policies and programs in Africa and the Caribbean:
Educate African and Caribbean policy-makers regarding the opportunities, as well as the potential risks, associated with agricultural biotechnology.
Increase biotechnology research on food crops important in Africa and other tropical nations. Cassava, cowpea, maize, millet, sorghum and sweet potatoes are important.
Focus research on technologies that offer the most immediate potential for substantial crop and yield improvement in Africa and the Caribbean. Among these technologies are insect resistance, viral and fungal disease resistance and improved nutritional quality of foods.
Strengthen the capacity for agricultural biotechnology in university and non-governmental research institutions in Africa and the Caribbean. Improve the availability of scholarships, fellowships, and training grants to African and Caribbean students to learn the new science in order to facilitate the transfer and application of these new technologies to Africa and the Caribbean.
Increase support for agricultural biotechnology research from both Multilateral Development Organizations and Foreign Aid Donors.
Develop regulatory protocols suitable for Africa and the Caribbean and provide appropriate training for regulatory personnel.
Promote internationally accepted standards for trade involving bioengineered foods, including considerations for potential implications on export crops from Africa and the Caribbean such as bananas, coffee, tea, cocoa, etc
Develop mechanisms for the transfer of technology and intellectual property rights from private biotechnology companies and advanced nation research institutions to Africa and other developing regions.
Promote entrepreneurship and local private sector participation in biotechnology in Africa and the Caribbean.
"We cannot turn back the clock on agriculture and only use methods that were developed to feed a much smaller population. It took some 10,000 years to expand food production to the current level of about 5 billion tons per year. By 2025, we will have to nearly double current production again. This increase cannot be accomplished unless farmers across the world have access to current high-yielding crop production methods as well as new biotechnological breakthroughs that can increase the yields, dependability, and nutritional quality of our basic food crops. We need to bring common sense into the debate on agricultural science and technology and the sooner the better!"
Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize recipient
The International Society of African Scientists (ISAS) is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization founded in 1982 to promote the advancement of science and technology among peoples of African descent. ISAS provides a medium through which scientists and engineers can channel their skills to solve technical problems facing Africa and the Caribbean. For more information please see ISAS website (http://www.dca.net/isas).
and Agricultural Organization
Society of African Scientists
United States of America
Biotechnology Advisory Committee
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