Types of activities and related outputs and results:

Our activities are all focused on achieving the result that scientists, regulators and other stakeholders in Southern Africa will have sufficient expertise in safety assessment and governance of GMOs to ensure informed decision-making.

Work Package 1 will provide biosafety risk analysis training to key stakeholders. An initial symposium will be organised with key decision makers in the SADC region to highlight the importance of GMO biosafety for agriculture and food security and to ensure that the relevant people attend training courses.

Work Package 2 will provide and disseminate accurate and appropriate information on GMOs. This will be done through newsletters and brochures, the creation of an online biotechnology and biosafety panel to which questions and comments can be submitted, and interactive workshops with cultural and religious leaders in the region.

Work Package 3 will provide linkage to the other WPs and have the output that all materials from the other WPs are available online, as a source of continued learning and revision. This will also ensure that the materials are available to new employees of key organisations, countering some of the effects of high staff turnover and attrition. Additionally, a wider range of online biosafety learning modules will be developed for the Southern African region and made available on a public website with linkages to other existing training sources.

Work Package 4 will raise awareness of new biotechnology developments and their possible regulatory implications. The role of new “-omics” techniques in assuring biosafety will be demonstrated, and a workshop will be held to discuss regulatory implications of new biotechnology techniques beyond current GMOs. A position paper will be produced as an output.

Work Package 5 will address dissemination of information to farmers, extension officers and others in the agricultural value chain. This will include the provision of communications training to scientists.

Work Package 6 will provide project management and visibility to the project.

Outputs are all directed towards the achievement of a common position on GMOs in the SADC region, through sharing of information and the provision of a cadre of trained and networked scientific personnel and government officials, with linkages to farmer organisations and other role players in the agriculture and food value chain. The interlinked activities address a variety of needs in the area of agricultural biosafety that are not dealt with through any existing programmes.

Timeframe: The action will take place over 36 months. This time frame is necessary given the complexity of working across countries many of which have relatively poor communication. It also allows for the development of new training materials and stakeholder dissemination activities.