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What is PBS?

The Program for Biosafety System (PBS) supports partner countries in Africa and Asia in the responsible development and use of biotechnology. Managed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), PBS works with countries interested in using biotechnology to enhance agricultural innovation.

Today, smallholder farmers in more than 15 countries successfully grow crop varieties developed through biotechnology.

PBS works with stakeholders to develop and implement science-based, functional biosafety systems that ultimately: Expand producer choice, inspire consumer confidence, facilitate trade, and promote agricultural R&D.


GMO Food Labeling Policies Review

GMO labeling policies

Labeling Policies of Genetically Modified Food by Guillaume Gruere

More than 40 countries have adopted some form of labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But not all approaches are successful in providing consumer choice or consumer information, according to a review done by the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS).

The PBS summary of policies reported in the review found that labeling rules fall into the broad categories of voluntary or mandatory; and that regulations differ widely on issues related to the types of products covered, threshold levels or detectability of GMO ingredients, and labeling content or description requirements.

Most important is that the review looks at both the benefits and costs of differing GMO labeling approaches. Among the report’s conclusions, countries considering introducing GMO food labeling policies should address specific questions (provided in this report) to ensure labeling polices serve the country’s economic and social goals.

Click here for a full copy of the paper: 2007. Labeling Policies of Genetically Modified Food: Lessons From an International Review of Existing Approaches1.


“Our review of national regulations shows that the effects of GMO labeling approaches can vary greatly. In particular, all approaches are not successful in providing consumer choice or consumer information; some regulations are bound to be very costly; and many countries have failed to implement their own regulations.”

Click here for a full copy of the paper: Labeling Policies of Genetically Modified Food: Lessons From an International Review of Existing Approaches, by Guillaume P. Gruere. PhD


Related link: A Review of International Labeling Policies of Genetically Modified Food to Evaluate India’s Proposed Rule:

Biosafety of GM Crops in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda

Biosafety GMO Crops

Biosafety of GM Crops in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania by Judy Chambers

Development of plant biotechnology (GMO) biosafety regulations in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania has been an evolving process of both progress and retreat according to Dr. Judith A. Chambers, who leads the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Chambers, who holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of a comprehensive review on the regulatory landscape in the three countries.

Effective biosafety regulations would enable the appropriate development, use and realization of benefits of plant biotechnology (GMOs). The report provides a situational analysis of the biosafety systems in the three countries, and the factors, such as the Cartagena Protocol, that contribute to common and disparate approaches to regulatory decision making. The report also addresses recent trends and provides recommendations for science-based regulation and policy development.

Chambers highlights that the three countries relative experiences underscore the importance of an organized and broad-based stakeholder support to enact rational policy. She recommends that efforts to establish “south-south” regulatory training and capacity-building examples from Brazil and Argentina offer another example of realizing the benefits of biotechnology.

Click here for a full copy of the report: Biosafety of GM Crops in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania: An Evolving Landscape of Regulatory Progress and Retreat, by Judith Chambers, PhD.

“Interaction between Scientists and Media Personnel in Ghana”

Media Interaction_Ghana 2014Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (Crops) recently called on the media to ensure objective and fair reporting on the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “Ghanaian farmers stand to gain a lot in the eventual commercial introduction of genetically engineered crops,” said Dr. Yakubu Alhassan during a recent press gathering.

The education event allowed scientists, regulators and media to openly and calmly discuss topics that are frequently brought up in public forums. read more...

“Feeding the Planet in a Warming World”

The ever widening effect of climate change requires the development of comprehensive adaptation strategies that can transform our systems to meet this reality. The world requires game-changing agricultural innovation and next generation technologies to address the impacts of climate change, and our exploding population, on global food production, says a new report by The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the London School of Economics (LSE).

This article addresses one of the most pressing agricultural challenges facing our planet in the next few decades: global climate change. The report shows that this challenge will be most effectively met through increased use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or transgenics. In order to effectively do this, three things need to happen: 1. Increased government and non-profit investment in advanced agriculture innovation; 2. Reform and relax stringent worldwide GMO regulations to be inline with older, established food products; and 3. Establish or empower existing organizations that promote biotechnology, as none currently have all the capabilities and strength needed to solve the problems that will soon be facing us. Click here to see the full report.

FAO Continues to Support Biotech

Following are excerpts of comments made recently by  José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in relation to questions on agriculture biotechnology:

…FAO welcomes scientific and technological research that can help to improve or increase food production. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are an option that needs to be explored and can contribute to food security. FAO supports a science-based evaluation system that would help to weigh the benefits and the risks of each GMO before it is incorporated into a food production system… But we cannot afford not to explore this possibility. Generally speaking, in the future, we will need all the resources we can make use of, and this may include GMOs, because we cannot be sure at this point in time what will happen with increasing temperatures and climate change.

For more complete information, visit the FAO website.