A two-day workshop on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and the GMO Act 2004: Validation of Amendments Proposed to the GMO Act 2004, aiming to pave the way for the next stage of our economic development opened yesterday at the Boname Hall in Réduit.
The workshop is organised the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security in collaboration with the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute and the Embassy of the United States in Mauritius. Its objective is to review the amendments being proposed to the Act. Some 45 participants are attending.
Present at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, stated that the country is now ready to transform itself into a high-income economy and innovation is the key driver of economic growth in terms of wealth generation and job creation. Biotechnology is one of the vehicles of innovation that could contribute positively towards this vision, he said.
Speaking of the review of the GMO Act 2004, the Minister recalled that the Act was partially proclaimed in 2004, and a revised draft of the GMO Act is already available. The associated regulations to accompany this Act, he underlined, are being finalised and amendments proposed will consequently be validated. He also pointed out that all these initiatives will assist to protect human, animal and environmental health, protect consumers in making their choice regarding GMOs, and maintain international quality and safety standards to facilitate trade.
Minister Seeruttun stated that the National Biosafety Committee has been working on a series of regulations and technical guidelines to support the implementation of this legislation. He further stated that this year, necessary steps will be taken for the GMO Act to be fully proclaimed so that it plays its regulatory functions and provisions are also being made for the setting up of a National Biosafety Office.
The Minister underlined that well regulated systems for genetically modified plants should be in place for the development of biotech crops, so that no harm is caused to human, animal and the environment. The governance of biotech crops, he said, is characterised by a precautionary approach and most African countries are parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement on biosafety that came into force in 2003. Mauritius was the first country in the world to sign this convention, he added.