Crop Biotech Update

IITA and CIP Awarded Certification in Stewardship Excellence

November 11, 2020

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Potato Center (CIP) have been awarded stewardship certificates by Excellence Through Stewardship (ETS) for their operations using genetically engineered plants. ETS is a global organization that promotes the adoption of product stewardship programs and quality management systems for the full life cycle of agricultural biotechnology products. The awards follow the two institutions' successful completion of audits under the ETS global audit process.

This recognition, the first of its kind for research organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, will build confidence in the capacities of both institutions and their partners to responsibly handle, research on, and deploy genetically engineered varieties.

The ETS certification to IITA included the institute's biotechnology research and development happening at the Bioscience for east and central Africa (BecA) hub located at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. At the hub, IITA is developing bacterial wilt-resistant bananas and other crops such as biotech cassava and yam. By receiving this certification, it means that IITA has efficient biotechnology quality management systems (QMS) in place and has adopted several best practices to meet stewardship requirements. These practices include documentation systems, QMS, availability of key records, accessibility of documents, and standard operating procedures (SOPs), regulatory compliance, and competent staff.

"IITA becoming a certified member of ETS shows its commitment to quality and stewardship of biotechnology-derived plant varieties. This certification is a timely recognition as IITA is advancing with its biotechnology research and development into bacterial wilt-resistant bananas. IITA is planning to include its operations at its headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria in the next ETS audit," said Leena Tripathi, Principal Scientist and Deputy Regional Director at IITA.

The CIP ETS certification covers activities using bioengineered potatoes at BecA/ILRI hub in Kenya and at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda. CIP and NARO scientists have complied with good stewardship practices as they have in place workable policies, procedures, and records of stewardship performance, and operate in full compliance with national regulations and laws.

"CIP is particularly grateful for this recognition as our most advanced bioengineered product, a potato with complete resistance to late blight disease, is performing consistently well in the last five years of confined field trials without a single incident ever reported. This work builds on an excellent partnership with both BecA/ILRI and NARO and an enabling regulation by dependable national biosafety and phytosanitary authorities," noted Marc Ghislain, Senior Biotechnologist at CIP.

For more information, contact Marc Ghislain at m.ghislain@cgiar.org.

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