Signing of MoU and workshop on food safety assessment and environmental risk assessment in Namibia

From Left to Right are Ms. Enid Keramen (Acting CEO), Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo (Director), and Dr Olalekan Akinbo (Senior Programme Officer) during the ceremony.

NEPAD Agency ABNE and The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), responsible by law to administer the Biosafety Act 2006 (Act No. 7 of 2006), in Namibia, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for capacity building of the regulatory body with the international best practices and other regulatory technical partnership on 9 April, 2018, in Windhoek, Namibia.
Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, led the NEPAD ABNE delegation while NCRST was represented by the Acting Chief Executive Officer Ms. Enid Keramen. In his opening speech, Dr. Ouedraogo affirmed that signing the MoU aligns with NEPAD Agency ABNE mandate and is meant to forge strategic partnership on biosafety that enables capacity strengthening of the Namibian regulators and other relevant stakeholders. In her response, Ms. Keramen said that NCRST equally recognize the importance of science, technology and innovation for national growth, sustainable development and competiveness that would translate into the improvement of socioeconomic standards of life.

The Biosafety Act 2006 of Namibia provides measures to regulate the activities that involve the research, development, production, marketing, transportation, applications and other uses of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and specific products derived from these GMOs as they are harnessed safely.
ABNE has the continental mandate to assist member states in developing capacity for a functional biosafety system that can receive, review applications and make decision on GMOs products.
The signing of the MoU was followed by a workshop organised by ABNE and the National Biosafety Secretariat and took place in Swakopmund. Participants in the workshop include staff of the Biosafety secretariat (NCRST) and Biosafety council members as well as technical experts in line ministries (Ministry of Health & Social Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME development).

The group picture of the participants includes the newly constituted board members

The workshop participants were successfully introduced to basic concepts of GMO decision making (risk analysis), an in-depth understanding of food and feed safety assessment and environmental risk assessment. They were further introduced to methods of finding risk analysis resources and data on the internet, and obtained experience in a useful tool used to enhance communication between applicants and regulators. They took part in practical sessions and successfully formulated hypotheses, brainstormed on identification of protection goals and drafted data deficit letters.