The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) on Friday 3rd February 2023 organized a one-day seminar for staff on biosafety regulation dubbed stacked events and genome editing in Ghana.
The seminar drew participants from the NBA, Biotechnology, and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute- Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (BNARI-GAEC), African Union Development Agency (AUDA NEPAD), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI). It aimed at building the capacity of staff and other stakeholders on genetically modified organisms breeding stack events and genome editing.
The resource person, Dr. Donald Mackenzie, who is the Executive Director of the Institute of International Crop Improvement at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA, stated that in the wake of evolving biotechnology regimes, it was critical for regulators to harmonize their approach for formidable and trusted outcomes.
Dr. Mackenzie who deplored the lack of a harmonized approach on the global front in dealing with stacked traits also advised that “regulatory systems should be risk-based and not tied to any particular breeding technology”. Touching on gene editing with CRISPR- Cas9, he assured that “using native characteristics to improve crops will benefit people and the entire ecosystem. It must, however, be in line with evolving regulatory and policy landscape for gene editing”.
On his part, Mr. Samuel Timpo, Director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) of AUDA-NEPAD called for a greater understanding among regulators in the development of guidelines. He noted that biosafety laws were always explicit about what constitutes GMOs and conventional breeding. He described worrying, about the attempt of some regulators at amending their laws which were already in sync with standard protocols.
The CEO of the NBA, Mr. Eric Okoree after the presentation expressed appreciation to Dr. MacKenzie and the participants for their time and the learning opportunity. He was optimistic that the knowledge gained would bring improve efficiency in the discharge of staff duties.