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 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).
NEPA’s Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) organized a key meeting recently to discuss biosafety frameworks. Focusing on countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, among others, the meeting attracted leading biotechnology and biosafety stakeholders and providers of technical assistance. The group shared experiences, identified key capacity building needs and emerging challenges regarding the development and implementation of workable biosafety regulatory frameworks.
As part of the continuing effort the Philippines has been making to responsibly develop and use biotechnology, the 2011 National Biotechnology Week was celebrated in Manila as an event open to the public. Dr. Reynaldo Ebora from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), and Philippines Coordinator for PBS, presented a paper entitled “Rising to the Challenge of Food Security and Climate Change through Biotechnology, the Philippine Context”. In addition, an exhibit was displayed at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) building to highlight the support PBS has been providing to the Philippines, working in collaboration with national partners.