Oct 07, 2022 | News

Biosafety Sensitisation and Awareness Creation for High-Level Policymakers in Zimbabwe

Biosafety Sensitisation and Awareness Creation for High-Level Policymakers in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has shown interest to harness biotech crops to enhance agricultural production and requested AUDA-NEPAD to facilitate a workshop to sensitise parliamentarians and other key stakeholders. The objective of this technical support was to share global and regional experiences on the regulation and adoption of biotech crops to instil confidence in the regulated introduction and adoption of biotech crops.

The meeting took place on 23 September 2022 in Harare and brought together 106 participants including parliamentarians. Parliamentarians came from four parliamentary standing committees: Science and Technology, Environment, Agriculture and Health.

The workshop was opened by H.E Prof. F. Tagwira, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science, Technology ans Development. Prof. Tagwira emphasised that Zimbabwe had now approved the confined field-testing of GM crops (namely cotton), the country’s adoption of the GM crops would be based on the test results. He also noted the importance of socio-economic considerations such as impact on the seed sector, seed security and seed sovereignty while making decision on the adoption of GM crops.

 AUDA-NEPAD staff made presentations on basic concepts of biotechnology as well as global and continental experiences on the adoption of biotech crops, highlighting the risk of unauthorized transboundary movement of seeds wherever the biosafety regulatory system is too slow to respond to the desire of farmers to access GM seeds once they are aware of the benefits from the neighbouring countries. Presentations were also made by an academic and an industry representative (focusing on insect-resistant GM cotton approved for field testing) and the Director of the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA).

The conclusions and achievements of the workshop were wrapped up by Hon. L. Maphosa, Parliamentary Portfolio Chair for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science, Technology and Development. She stressed that, “Parliamentarians will not want to be told about perceptions of GM crops and foods next time they meet, but they will expect to be told about the results of the GM crop experiments that would soon be tested in the field.”