US-sponsored summit on GMOS for west African leaders / Workshop in Liberia (10/6/2004)

FOCUS ON AFRICA

The US assault on Africa continues: see item 1.

1.US-sponsored Burkina summit for west African leaders to examine role GMOs may take in feeding Africa
2.Take Precaution Against GMOs in Food - Citizens Caution Govt
3.Enact Protective Laws for Bio-Safety - Deputy Minister Urges
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1.Burkina summit to examine role GMO's may take in feeding Africa
June 9, 2004
Agence France Presse English [via agnet]

OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso is, according to this story, to host a three-day summit this month at which west African leaders will discuss the importance of genetically modified organisms in boosting food production on the world's poorest continent.

A statement from the US embassy in Burkina Faso was cited as saying Wednesday that the US-sponsored conference in Ouagadougou from June 21-23 is to help the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) understand the science and technology of OGMs to help improve African agricultural productivity.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has said that 23 out of 53 African states suffer from dire food shortages, primarily due to drought, and has suggested that biotechnology could help farmers in Africa and the rest of the developing world to feed another two billion people in 30 years.
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2.Take Precaution Against GMOs in Food - Citizens Caution Govt
The NEWS (Liberia), Jun 1, 2004
http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200406011686.html

A cross section of residents in Bong and Margibi Counties want the Government to take precautionary stance in ensuring that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not brought into Liberia under dubious circumstances.

The residents were quoted as saying that although there are no scientific proofs to determine whether there are GM Crops in Liberia, nevertheless, they were of the view that the long and porous borders and inadequate quarantine mechanisms at the various entry points as well as the presence of rotten rice, meat and poultry parts on the Liberian market were critical issues for concern.

The residents, which comprised consumer groups, members of the scientific community, government officials, marketers, youth groups and NGOs spoke over the weekend in the provincial towns of Kakata and Salala during a two-day workshop on Public Awareness and Participation to ensure transparency and confidence on key decisions relating to Biosafety and Modern Biotechnology.

In a release Monday, the participants pointed out that in view of the negative and positive aspects of GMOs, any NGO, donor, or supplier wishing to bring Genetically Modified Crops into Liberia should first notify the Government so that the necessary mechanisms can be put in place to advert or reduce the potential risk to human health and the environment.

According to the release, the workshop brought together more that 120 participants and made significant review of the National Biosafety Framework (NBF), its prospects and challenges as well as the role of public awareness and participation in the development process of the National Biosafety Framework, a technical and legal document being drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with UNEP/GEF support to regulated GMOs.

The workshop participants, the release said, assured the organizers of their commitment to contribute meaningfully in the development of the National Biosafety Framework provided the necessary mechanisms are put into place in compliance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

In January 2002, the Government of Liberia acceded to the Cartagena Protocol of Biosafety, to ensure an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity taking into account risks to human health and specifically focusing on Transboundary movements.

The Protocol offers a number of tools for promoting Biosafety, which include, Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA), Biosafety Clearing House (BCH), Risk Assessment and Risk Management, Capacity Building and Public Awareness.

The workshop was sponsored by the Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Programme (GEF/UNEP), and implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia.
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3.Enact Protective Laws for Bio-Safety - Deputy Minister Urges
by T. Michael Johnny
The NEWS (Liberia), 4 Jun 2004
http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200406040488.html

The Deputy Justice Minister for Legal Affairs, Cllr. Abla Gadegbeku Williams has stressed the urgent need for Government to enact laws that would protect the nation's bio-safety and the traits of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Cllr. Williams said the ecology has been ruined as a result of the war, noting that the lack of basic social services poses problem of security and cross boundary movements.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of a two-day workshop sponsored by United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) and implemented by the National Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Cllr  Williams said lack of equipment, resource and training would increase the risk of GM crops.

She averred that the national Bio-Safety framework imposes grave environmental responsibilities on all government agencies to enact laws governing the damages of Environmental pollution and how it can be protected.

Speaking on the topic, Risk Assessment and Risk Management, Deputy Minister Williams said bio-diversity issues provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to the conservation of national biological resources.

Quoting from the Liberian Constitution, Cllr. Williams said Article 7 calls for the State to manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia to ensure the participation of Liberians to advance the general welfare of the people.

To enable the EPA achieve this goal, Cllr. Williams said extensive research must be done in different environmental areas highlighting the risk of water pollution, contaminated air, water among others.

The workshop enters its second day Friday with emphasis on gathering and interpreting data for risk management.


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