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Crop Biotech Update

ISAAA Webinar Highlights Importance of Public-Private Dynamics in Agribiotechnology Industry

November 24, 2021

ISAAA and its network of Biotechnology Information Centers, in partnership with Murdoch University, held a webinar  focused on the latest scientific and regulatory updates on gene-edited (GEd) plant products in Asia and Australia. The aim was to share knowledge and advice about the technology and regulations related to it to provide the intended beneficiaries with advice on the production and international trade of the GEd products.

The webinar Food Futures: Commercialization of Gene-edited Crops in Asia and Australia was held on November 18, 2021, via Zoom and was hosted by the ISAAA SEAsiaCenter. A total of 168 participants from 41 countries joined the event. Resource persons from China, Japan, India, and Pakistan were invited to talk and highlight the different country perspectives for research, policy approaches, and implications of market trade. Specifically, they talked about their current country policies related to the commercialization of gene-edited crops, the GEd products in the pipeline within their country with corresponding timelines for commercialization, and the potential benefits for industry collaboration. The resource speakers were Dr. Wei Xun, an Associate Professor at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing; Dr. Mieko Kasai, Professor at the Center for Environment, Health and Field Science in Chiba University in Japan; Dr. S. R. Rao, Vice President of Sri Jalaji Vidyapeeth University Puducherry of India; and Dr. Shahid Mansoor, Director of the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan. Resource persons from the industry were also invited to speak about their perspectives on the research policy approaches and implications for market and trade. Mr. Osman Mewett, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Seeds Federation as well as Dr. Khay Khoo, Regulatory Manager for Biotechnology in the Asia Pacific for BASF provided the industry perspectives and insights.

During the open discussions, it was discussed that China does not have regulatory policies implemented by the local government, but the Chinese State Council or the Minister of Agriculture are tasked in handling the regulations. Also clarified during the discussions was that the Japanese government is not involved in the commercialization efforts of the private companies that produce biotech products. Another topic that was raised was how the harmonization of regulations occurs if different countries have their own respective regulations and how these impact international trade and movement of biotech products. In relation to this, Dr. Mewett discussed that countries with experience in planting genetically modified crops seem to be more amenable to regulating GEd products given that the regulators already have the knowledge and experience on how to conduct risk and food safety assessments. The importance of flexibility of regulations was also discussed.

The webinar was moderated by Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, ISAAA SEAsiaCenter Director; Mr. Panfilo de Guzman, ISAAA SEAsiaCenter Associate Scientist; and Mr. Muhammad Adeel, Career Diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan and a PhD Scholar at the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre in Australia. The closing remarks were provided by Prof. Michael Jones, Professor of Agricultural Biotechnology and Foundation Director of the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre (SABC).

Watch the webinar on demand on ISAAA.org's Facebook account. For any questions, please send them to knowledge.center@isaaa.org

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