Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most Developing Countries Ill-equipped To Ensure Global Biosafety

Date:
May 28, 2008
Source:
United Nations University
Summary:
A two-year study of internationally funded training programs in biotechnology and biosafety warns that as many as 100 developing countries are unprepared to effectively manage and monitor the use of modern biotechnologies, leaving the world community open to serious biosafety threats.

A two-year UN study of internationally funded training programmes in biotechnology and biosafety warns that as many as 100 developing countries are unprepared to effectively manage and monitor the use of modern biotechnologies, leaving the world community open to serious biosafety threats.

Related Articles


The report, from the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, says training and management deficiencies in most countries of Africa, Central Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean, "are so pervasive and broad that there is no effective international system of biosafety at the moment."

In addition, the global resources available from donor countries and agencies, already inadequate to help developing countries meet basic international agreement obligations, are being cut back. It is estimated that, over the past 15 years, just $135 million has been invested globally by public and private sources in capacity building in developing country.

The UNU-IAS assessment, released at this month's Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, takes no sides on genetically modified organisms and other biotech-related controversies. It was designed simply to shed a neutral, independent and objective light on international biotechnology and biosafety training programmes intended to allow developing countries to make and implement informed choices.

Among other questions examined:

  • Are current capacity building initiatives directed towards particular policy or regulatory outcomes?
  • Do they drive the policy process in developing countries?
  • Are capacity building initiatives in biosafety and biotech demand driven?
  • How can integrated capacity building be provided given lack of international consensus about nature and extent of risks posed by Living Modified Organisms?
  • Are regional approaches appropriate for capacity building in biosafety and biotech?
  • Is there sufficient donor coordination to avoid inappropriate duplication?
  • Are existing activities sustainable?
  • How should capacity building differentiate between developing countries at different stages of uptake of modern biotech?
  • How can capacity building gaps and problems be addressed?

Authors, Sam Johnston, Catherine Monagle, Jessica Green and Ruth Mackenzie say the use and prevalence of biotechnology in agriculture and other sectors seems certain to increase. And the widespread ratification of the world's Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB), which will mark the 5th anniversary of its coming into force on Sept. 11, 2008, "demonstrates the desire for biosafety measures to go hand in hand with the development of biotechnology."

However, they cite the lack of technical, policy and enforcement capacities in developing countries as "a potentially contributing factor to the spread of bioterrorism" -- the deliberate release of naturally-occurring or human-modified bacteria, viruses, toxins or other biological agents.

Among other points and observations:

  • Globalization, resulting in the increasing flow of information, people and resources, has weakened the power of states to manage technology development and will make it harder to develop an effective international regime;
  • The lack of capacities and the associated policy vacuum allow for vested interests to predominate, dampen support for research and create hesitation on the part of governments to properly engage with the issue;
  • A country that lacks capacity is more likely to bring in very restrictive systems in order to counterbalance its deficiencies and undermines their ability to consider less contentious uses of biotechnology, such as in diagnostics, industrial enzymes, pollution remediation, combating drought and reversing salinity;
  • The lack of capacity creates dependency in developing countries;
  • The use of genetically-modified crops in many developing countries makes future trade bans and disruption likely;
  • The lack of an effective biosafety regime undermines the potential for developing countries to consider the role of biotechnology in critical areas such as addressing climate change.

Most available capacity building resources to date have been devoted to developing policy and regulatory regimes, including approval procedures and risk assessment. Scientific training has focused mostly on risk assessment and, to a lesser extent, on the detection of genetically modified organisms.

The authors offer a suite of recommendations, emphasizing that capacity needs should be identified locally, not internationally, and point to success stories on which world efforts should be built.

The findings raise fundamental questions about "the extent to which capacity deficits are undermining the promise that advances in biotechnology would directly address the needs of the poor," says UNU-IAS Director A.H. Zakri.

"There may also be broader implications of a capacity deficit in biosafety and biotechnology. These may include an impaired ability to meet the challenges of global issues such as climate change, or to protect humans and the environment against biosecurity risks."

Information for the assessment was assembled from available literature and previous assessments, country visits to the Philippines, Uganda, Bangladesh and Cameroon, stakeholder interviews and participation in several international meetings, overseen by an advisory committee of senior experts and critiqued by a range of reviewers.

The full report is online at http://www.ias.unu.edu/resource_centre/Internationally Funded Training in Biotechnology and Biosafety_Is it Bridging the Biotech Divide.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United Nations University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

United Nations University. "Most Developing Countries Ill-equipped To Ensure Global Biosafety." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527155543.htm>.
United Nations University. (2008, May 28). Most Developing Countries Ill-equipped To Ensure Global Biosafety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527155543.htm
United Nations University. "Most Developing Countries Ill-equipped To Ensure Global Biosafety." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527155543.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins