Capacity building for Members of the National Biosafety Committee and select News Media groups in Mozambique

African Union Development Agency NEPAD ABNE in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique organized an Induction Seminar for Members of the National Biosafety Committee (GIIBS) in Mozambique, from 8 – 10 May, 2019 in Maputo.
The objective of the seminar was to build the capacity of the GIIBS members in biosafety and especially their role in the national biosafety system. Under the current legal framework, the GIIBS membership are selected on their competency to represent different sectors in the country. It was important to build their capacity in the different aspects of Biosafety due to differences of background and highlight their responsibilities.

Group picture of GIIBs members with the Minister, Prof. Doutor. Eng. Jorge Nhambiu at the center (5th from the right) and the GIIBs Coordinator Dr. Roda Nuvungu Luis (7th from the right).

In his opening remarks, Prof. Doutor Engo. Jorge Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique reminded that ”Mozambique has started field testing of drought tolerant maize since 2017 in order to safely use the potential of biotechnology tools to effectively cope with climate change and environmental issues”. He added that their supports in the sensitization of the Mozambican people on the decisions taken by the National Biosafety Authority is contextualized, science based and understood building on the pillar of awareness creation”.

During the meeting, presentations were made by AUDA-NEPAD ABNE experts, GIIBs coordinator, and local scientists and government officials on biotechnology and biosafety key topics including Genetic Engineering Science, Global Biotechnology Adoption Trends, International and regional legal policies and instruments relevant to the regulation of modern biotechnology, Biotech Product and Field Inspection Procedures, Country engagement in International Negotiation, Roles and responsibility of GIIBs by Decree 71/2014, and Proposed GIIBS Activities Plan for the Year 2019. Questions from participants during the different sessions helped them fully appreciate the subject matter and especially their role in biosafety implementation processs.
AUDA-NEPAD ABNE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique in July 2017 to provide the country with the necessary technical support to enhance the national biosafety regulatory system, especially through capacity building of the regulators.
The National Biosafety Committee (GIIBS) is Mozambique’s advisory body that provides technical and scientific advice to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA). Members of the committee were formally inaugurated in December 2018 in accordance with the National Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms.

A view of the group of journalists during the sensitization meeting on the 10th of May, 2019.

This meeting created an entry point for the media to be engaged and trained on biosafety subject, a field different from the core of journalism. This is an effort to bring media to the center of balanced information sharing to the Mozambican and encourage them to use the competent authority as the primary source of credible information on biosafety issue within the country. This is also envisioned to improve interaction between the competent authority and media in public awareness and to forester mutual relationship and trust. This group of journalists will serve as the core group with science-based knowledge and orientation for information sharing for competent authority and GIIBs. The competent authority envisions to set up a national biosafety communication network in the future to capitalize on their efforts and continuously share knowledge and experience to enhance their skills in the production of evidence-based information in the biosafety area.