9 November 2012

Ghana: ICGEB Receives Grant to Expand Biosafety Systems

The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) has received a grant exceeding US $6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the implementation of a project to assist the regulation of agricultural biotechnology products in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project will be carried out by the Centre's Biosafety Unit, by personnel based in its Trieste (Italy) and Cape Town (South Africa) components, and will focus on the development of effective safety and regulatory systems for the regulation of GMOs: a very relevant topic, not only for sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Thanks to the funds provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr. Decio Ripandelli, Director of ICGEB's External Relations and Head of the Biosafety Unit noted that more than 20 fellowships will be offered to attend a two-year Master programme tailored for the project by a prestigious international university; as well as critical personnel exchanges between governmental offices with extensive and highly-regarded GMO regulatory experience (as in Canada and Australia) and those of the sub-Saharan African region, where those systems are still evolving.

Training workshops, both theoretical and practical, will also be organised and offered to scientists and regulators of the National Competent Authorities responsible for GMO regulation.

The ICGEB approach has always been aimed at the promotion of the safe and sustainable use of biotechnology.

This project extends the bio-safety work that the Centre is already implementing, and will expand the Centre's global reach, he explained.

This new funding doubles the contribution that the Gates Foundation gave to ICGEB in 2008, Prof. Francisco Baralle, Director General of the Centre added.

He continued that the magnitude of this new investment and the trust awarded to ICGEB from such an important donor are sources of great satisfaction, as they are a visible demonstration of the ICGEB's international credibility and uniqueness in this sector, which rely upon an approach based exclusively on accurate representations of science.

Instructively, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is an intergovernmental organization, established within the United Nations system to provide the developing world with a centre of excellence for research and training in genetic engineering and biotechnology, focused on solving some of the major problems affecting health, nutrition, agriculture and industrial development.

The ICGEB has been operating since 1987 through its three Components; located in Trieste (Italy), New Delhi (India) and Cape Town (South Africa).

To date, the ICGEB Statutes- the international treaty establishing the Organization have been signed by 85 Governments and ratified by 63.

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