Proceedings of the International Conference on Agro-Biotechnology, Biosafety and Seed Systems in Developing Countries
The International Conference on Agro-Biotechnology, Biosafety and Seed Systems in Developing Countries was held in Kampala during March 8-11 2010 at the Imperial Royale Hotel and attracted over 150 participants form various countries in Africa, Europe and North America. Over 50 presentations were made on various aspects of biotechnology including governance, biosafety, genetic engineering for crops, seed systems, communication, and industrial applications, among others. Thirteen papers were submitted for publication after conference and these covered nearly all themes of biotech above. The potential role of biotechnology, specifically modern biotechnology in contributing to development has been the subject of debate for more than fifteen years in developing countries. With the exception of newly industrialised countries such as India, Brazil and China, many developing countries have not fully tapped the potential of using modern biotech in agriculture, only South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Egypt have to date commercialised products of modern biotech in agriculture on the African continent. Papers here show the potential, challenges, options, and the need for an integrated approach covering communication, biosafety, and development of relevant biotechnologies if developing countries, particularly in Africa, are optimise biotech tools in national and regional development. For the first time ever, this conference also addressed the closely intertwined areas of biotechnology research and development, biosafety, regulation and seed development and delivery in the context of genetic engineering revolution. After the conference, the resolutions the stakeholders were presented in a communiqué (see page 85) that was widely circulated in different media outlets and direclty among stakeholders through variuos communication channels. The general recommendation from the conference was the call for African governments to take bold steps and fast track decisions geared at establishing feasible regulatory regimes for development of biotechnology while at the same time ensuring biosafety for the benefit of their citizens.