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.
Indonesia is looking to biotechnology to help meet the future challenges of climate change and food security. As part of that commitment, students at universities have been learning more about agricultural biotechnology and its potential. About 250 students, graduate students and biology teachers at senior high schools recently attended information sessions organized by the University of Lampung, and the University of Gadjah Mada. The students learned how some products in early development stages could assist with Indonesia’s challenges such as nitrogen use efficient maize and rice; sugar cane, maize and rice that can withstand drought; and crops that reduce overall pesticide use. Julian Adams, PhD, and Asia Program Coordinator for PBS, gave lectures and shared a global perspective on this area.
On December 14, Judy Chambers of the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) will be a panelist at the "Enabling a Private Sector-Led Seed Industry: Policy Perspectives" seminar in Washington, DC. Joe Cortes of Iowa State University’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products (BIGMAP) will outline the findings of the “Building an enabling environment for seed sector growth” policy brief produced by the Enabling Agricultural Trade (EAT) project. Along with Judy, panelist Mark Huisenga of USAID’s Bureau for Food Security will discuss the findings; and EAT’s Nate Kline will moderate and engage the audience in a Q&A session on the topic of seed policy.
A review of policy options with an application to Vietnam
Guillaume P. Gruère. PBS Policy Note.
Nigerian scientists recently had a chance to showcase progress that they’ve made while developing improved products with biotechnology. During the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Abuja, Nigeria, scientists featured their work on projects such as insect-resistant cowpea; biofortified cassava; and, biofortified sorghum, among others. The session, organized by NABDA in collaboration with AATF’s West African office, featured scientific posters to more than 100 representatives from
government agencies, science institutes, farmers and the media. In addition, participants heard brief presentations from the local host, NABDA, USAID/Nigeria and a range of partner organizations, including The Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS). Professor B.O. Solomon, NABDA’s Director General’s comments focused on “Harnessing the Potential of Agricultural Biotechnology for Food Security and Social-Economic Development in Nigeria.” The presentation looked beyond R&D progress and towards near-term potential benefits to Nigeria’s economy and environment.
AATF partners with PBS and ISAAA in supporting OFAB Chapters in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
Mr. G.K. Nzuva, Chairman of the Kenya Central Agricultural Board recently shared lessons learned from his study of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso at the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB). On the study tour, Mr. Nzuva and participants from other countries saw the direct benefits of a functional biosafety system for farmers. In addition to improved yields, farmers have been able to reduce the application of costly chemicals to control insects. Farmers shared that Bt cotton only needs two chemical applications per year versus the six to eight applications for conventional cotton. This has helped increase farmer income, as well as improve the safety of their families. Prior to the introduction of Bt cotton, Burkina Faso lost $500 million due to decreased exports.