Biotech Updates

Strengthening Capacity to Implement Biosafety Protocol in Africa

September 24, 2010

Delegates from 18 African countries met in a preparatory workshop in Nairobi aimed at strengthening their capacity on issues of liability and redress ahead of the forthcoming fifth meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 5) in Nagoya, Japan on October 11-15, 2010. The meeting was organized by the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and National Biosafety Authority (NBA) in collaboration with the AU-NEPAD Agency, African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialized Agency of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA AfriCenter).

In opening the workshop, Professor Harry Kaane, Secretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education in Kenya, reminded the participants about the objectives of the Cartagena protocol emphasizing the importance of its implementation at the national level. He appreciated that the workshop had been organized at an opportune time that would empower participants to strategically participate in COP/MOP5 negotiations. The workshop also hosted the Co-Chair of the Liability and Redress working group of the COP/MOP, Mr. Lefeber Rene. He highlighted the contentious issues that are still pending and scheduled for discussion during the COP/MOP5. In addition, he shared with participants various negotiation skills that can be used in ensuring that  their contributions are incorporated in the negotiations.

Rene together with Dominic Muyldermans, the Senior Counsel, Bayer Bioscience/Croplife International, presented the COMPACT. This is a legally binding arbitration process to provide States with a mechanism for seeking redress in the event that damage to biological diversity is caused by the release of a Living Modified Organism (LMO). It was developed by leading agricultural biotechnology providers – BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta.

At the end of the workshop, a communiqué was produced that highlighted various issues agreed among the participants. Some of the key agreements included the need for Parties to source and allocate funds towards supporting delegations to the COP/MOP as part of a country's obligation for quality representation. This would also enable more technical and legal advisors to attend African pre – MOP 5 consultative meetings to ensure the continent's issues are well articulated and represented. Participants agreed to take note of the COMPACT in the preamble of the decision document.

For further information contact NEPAD ABNE- Agency's Prof. Diran Makinde at or Dr. Margaret Karembu of ISAAA AfriCenter at