Strauss Lunyangwe Okahandja - The National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) recently held a three-day workshop on Biosafety Clearing House (BCH). BCH is a portal that is used on all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and living modified organisms (LMOs) related products and applications for approval in Namibia. Information on BCH is helpful to users when producers harvest modified products and want to ensure that they are in compliance with BCH in the country. BCH allows countries access to a variety of scientific, technical, environmental, legal and capacity building information to parties of the protocol and is the main tool that will be used to communicate all information relating to Namibia’s decisions regarding GMOs and (LMOs). The portal will have a list of GMOs and LMOs status to be viewed by users. Importers will be able to access information about the country’s laws, regulations and guidelines of other parties and other countries’ decisions and assessments. This will also ensure all potential exporters to the country or those who wish to transport across their territory are aware of the regulatory requirements. Dr Ossama Addelkawy, an Interdisciplinary scientist from India, said developed countries are more likely to conduct their own risk assessments on specific GMOs and LMOs. After an exporter has done the necessary assessments, the receiving country then reviews the findings and pronounce themselves upon thorough research. “Once an exporter sends through a notification of the intended product to be sold, the importing country then reverts back within nine months to either approving the import, prohibiting the import, request for additional relevant information or extend the nine-month period to a date to be defined,” he remarked. Paulus Mungeyi, the manager for biotechnology division at NCRST, explained that they want inclusivity in decision-making, which is important. The platform is thus created in spreading information regarding GMOs for public awareness, and also encouraged members of the public to visit the website to better acquaint themselves with the information available. Over 170 countries around the globe use the BCH portal, with Namibia joining the fray last year when it was launched. Furthermore, the workshop will define the roles of competent national authorities and national focal points and improve national competence on using the BCH for registering information. Key stakeholders that attended the workshop included government representatives, farmers, importers and major food and feed companies to name a few.
2018-03-09 10:03:44 6 months ago