The NEPAD Agency’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) and Togo’s Ministry of Environment and Forest Resources recently held a workshop in Lome to validate Togo’s revised Biosafety law.
Around 60 participants including government officials, researchers, lawyers, biosafety regulators, and civil society representatives took part in this workshop.
The revised draft law was prepared by a national consultant whose role was to propose how Togo could improve its biosafety law signed in January 2009 to be workable, and ensure a better alignment with the international biosafety regulations and best practices.
The Nagoya Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress, signed in 2010 provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms. The Workshop in Togo used this protocol as a benchmark model. Participants brainstormed on the proposed shape of the new law.
ABNE is a continent-wide service network that has buy-in from the African governments and was officially approved in 2008 by the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) to promote advancement of science and technology for agricultural development in Africa.
Speaking on behalf of NEPAD, Dr Moussa Savadogo, ABNE Senior Program Officer on Environmental Biosafety thanked Togo’s Minister of Environment and Forest Resources André Johnson, and committed NEPAD’s support to ensure that the country benefit from the safe use of modern biotechnology. He pledged that NEPAD would do its best to help Togo benefit from the safe use of modern biotechnology.
“Togo will continue with the positive approach it has started with respect to biotechnology and biosafety”, the Minister said.
Dr Kossi Kpemoua, in charge of phytopathology and biotechnology research at Togo’s Institute of Agricultural Research said that Togo was moving towards molecular biology from the current use of biotechnology research activity that is mainly on tissue culture. This would open up more and wider prospects for extensive research and analysis.
Phytopathology is an interdisciplinary science that includes knowledge of botany, microbiology, crop science, soil science, ecology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology.
“I am delighted to see the evolution of this meeting and especially the information sharing and the level of understanding because I was among those who attended the first meeting to talk about modern biotechnology and biosafety and speak specifically of GMOs that were very poorly understood initially in our country. Now people have better understanding of the issues,” said Dr Kpemoua
He thanked the NEPAD ABNE Programme for the important role it has played in providing technical and material support.
NEPAD also got a vote of thanks from Mrs Amah Atutonu, responsible for protected areas at the wildlife and hunting division of the Ministry which also serves as the focal point of the Centre for biosafety information.
“I am very satisfied with this meeting, especially looking at the impressive number of participants. This once again demonstrates stakeholders’ interest in biosafety issues and the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Togo. As you know, the issue of biosafety is a very complex and sensitive subject, so people really seek clear understanding. It is now or never to make the right decisions that will guide us in the future in the management of biotechnology issues in Togo” she said.
She said that ABNE had done a lot for Togo in terms of capacity building and for the review of the Law.