Strenghening national capacities in formulation and implementation of legal instruments on genetically modified organisms (TCP/SWA/3003)
Starting Date: April 2003
FAO Contribution: US$174 000
Duration: 12 months
Swaziland enjoys a rich biodiversity owing to its great variations in landscape, geology and climate. Its ecosystem holds great significance for biodiversity conservation because it allows for ecological processes such as migration and gene flow. Its agriculture sector is in majority of a subsistence type, which occupies more than 80 percent of the population. Recent food aid in the region raised concerns regarding the uncontrolled distribution, handling and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country and the associated environmental and health risks. Swaziland, which is surrounded by countries where GMOs are regularly introduced and cultivated, does not have a biosafety legislative framework nor the human capacities in risk analysis of GMOs necessary to implement any biosafety measures. This could lead to illegal imports and cultivation of GMOs, with the associated risks to the environment and local biodiversity and to the creation of a barrier to technology transfer. The Government requested FAO assistance in addressing the most urgent needs related to biosafety.
The objective of the project is therefore to facilitate the safe introduction of appropriate biotechnologies and biotechnological products, including GMOs, in Swaziland. This would be achieved by developing a biosafety regulation and building the national capacity in the application of modern biotechnologies in agriculture and risk analysis of GMOs, as well as management of biosafety information.
The project will provide the services of one international consultant for legal aspects of biosafety (four weeks) five TCDC (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries) experts for the training in different disciplines related to biosafety (25 weeks in total), and one national expert in agricultural legislation (two months), in addition to FAO advisory technical services from three technical units (eight weeks in total). The project will also cover official travel, materials and equipment, training, and general as well as direct operating expenses.
As a result, the project will have developed a draft biosafety law, consistent with existing national legislations as well as international conventions. In addition, 40 officers from relevant ministries and authorities will have been trained in the general concepts of biotechnology and biosafety, and ten officers from relevant ministries and scientists from the Swaziland University will have been trained in risk analysis of GMOs and management of biosafety information. The assistance is expected to ensure safe access to food relief programmes and contribute in the long term to improved agricultural production and to the overall national food security.