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.
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.
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.
The Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC) and their partners continue to share biotechnology information with Ugandan officials since the Biosafety Bill was recently published for comment. For the past 15 years, Uganda has been steadily integrating biotechnology into national development processes – per the 2008 National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy. Ugandan scientists have been developing capacity across sectors in order to develop and apply modern biotechnology for the benefit of the country – 140 Ugandan scientists are working in ag-biotech; more than 15 Ugandan institutions are conducting biotechnology research; and the focus has also resulted in privately-owned Ugandan businesses.
Regulators, technology developers and academics can learn more about global biosafety research and policy at an upcoming international meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms will host speakers from around the world to discuss topics such as current regulatory challenges, data transportability, biosafety policy and practice, biofuels, etc. The Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) will host a session on "Trends in Biosafety Policy and Practice". See the 12th International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (ISBGMO12) website for more information.
African countries were encouraged, recently, to consider all agricultural innovations when solving the challenges of meeting food, feed and fiber demands. At the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) events in Uganda and Kenya, it was highlighted by Dr. Clive James that we have to use the best of agricultural biotechnologies and conventional technologies and create effective synergies to ensure we stand up to the task of feeding Africa’s rapidly growing population projected to hit 1.9 billion by 2050. Investing in biotechnology will shift the reliance on imports to local growth and self-sufficiency. OFAB strives to share accurate information about biotechnology in 6 African countries. James is the founder and Chair of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).