Biotech Updates

Tanzanian Scientist Calls for Review of Country's Biosafety Law

March 13, 2013

Researchers in Tanzania want the strict liability biosafety regulatory framework reviewed to enable them to carry out research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Speaking at the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Tanzania, which took place on 28 February 2013 at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr. Joseph Ndunguru presented a paper on agricultural biotechnology for Africa's development.

Dr. Ndunguru, a molecular plant virologist from Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute and the principal investigator of a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project on virus resistant cassava, said that several advancements have been made recently in Africa towards biotechnology application. Plant biotechnology was  highlighted as having the potential to contribute to food security and poverty alleviation goals. He said "In Tanzania for example it fits within a target of increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring food security as stipulated in KILIMO KWANZA policy (‘agriculture first' policy) and MKUKUTA (The Tanzanian National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty).

Currently, there is divided opinion in the cotton industry on whether the strict liability clause in bio-safety regulatory framework be removed to increase output of the crop. The contestable clause in the biosafety regulatory framework stipulates that if GMOs were to be introduced, the technology developers and even development partners would be liable for any direct and indirect harm.

For more information about OFAB, contact Dr. Nicholas Nyange, chair of the OFAB Programming Committee in Tanzania, at