Gene drive regulatory consultative training workshop for West African biosafety Stakeholders

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) organized a consultative and training workshop on the regulatory aspects of Gene Drive technology, from 16 – 18 October 2018 in Dakar, Senegal.
20 participants attended the workshop, mainly national biosafety stakeholders from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal and experts from the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

A view of participants during the training workshop.

The objective of this workshop was to develop a good understanding of the basics of the “Gene Drive” technology and its potential applications in various sectors including health and agriculture and to establish a basis for conducting risk assessment for decision making on the use of organisms modified with Gene Drive technology. it was also expected that interactions between the workshop participants will help build strong relationships based on trust and confidence for the establishment of functional frameworks for coordinated review of Gene Drive permit applications and collaborative policy development within countries and regionally.

During the meeting, experts from NEPAD Agency, DDPSC, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) shared knowledge and experiences on topics relating to the malaria vector control in Africa, the basic science of Gene Drive, the introduction to the use of malaria modelling to inform policy, risk assessment for organisms (plants, animals, insects, and microbes), risk assessment for biological control, Gene Drive regulatory and policy background in Africa. The presentations were followed by practical case studies and exercises that allowed participants to improve their understanding and skills on risk assessment and risk management for the review of the Gene Drive applications.

A group of participants attentively following the presentations

The Gene Drive Technology is one of the emerging technologies recommended by the African Union High Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) and adopted by the AU summit as one of the promising tools that would help eradicate malaria in Africa by 2030. This training workshop follows a series of other meetings organized by NEPAD Agency and partners to build the capacities of African biosafety regulators and key stakeholders on Gene Drive technology regulations with a view to implementing and operationalizing regional platforms for integrated vector management in Africa.