Knowledge for Development


News items relevant to the policy dialogue on S&T for Development.

EU to open projects to developing country scientists, 3 March 2006, the European Commission (EC) is providing 20 million euros (US$24 million) to allow scientists in developing countries to join existing European projects. The move is intended to address poor participation by 'third countries' in projects funded by the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.


Profile Awards for Science & Tech Reporting

Allafrica, 2 March 2006, Originally held for media organizations and professionals in Southern Africa, the now continental Profile Awards honour informed, well researched, balanced and accurate science and technology reporting in Africa.


IDRC Champions Intellectual Platform for Developing Countries International Development Research

IDRC, 23 December 2005, Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is to launch an Open Archive, which will provide access to IDRC's research archive over the internet.


Zimbabwe sweet potato solution for use in the Pacific?

Genetic Resources News Blog, 5 January 2006: Originally published in CTA's Spore magazine, reposted on Plant Genetic Resources News blog - a Fiji-based blog covering the subject for the Pacific region. The blogger has posted the news, adding briefly that the solution could be used in the Pacific as well as in Zimbabwe, where it was developed: ''Born again' sweet potato plants developed by a team of local scientists employed by Zimbabwe company Agri-Biotech are helping small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to weather the country’s food crisis. The plants make it possible for a 30-m square plot to feed a family of seven all year round. The scientists call the plants 'born again' because they have found a way of removing the virus that plagues sweet potato crops.' In a GM-free tissue culture process, they literally employ cutting- edge science.


UNCTAD to create Science and Technology network in developing countries

02 June 2005 | UNCTAD/Press - Italy pledges $500,000 for project UNCTAD will set up a network of centres of excellence on science and technology in developing countries, to be funded initially by a US$ 500,000 grant from the government of Italy. The grant was announced in Geneva last week by Italian Ambassador Paolo Bruni at a meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).


EC ABS Portal

The European Commission Environment Directorate General is funding the project - 'Development of the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Section of the EC Biodiversity Clearing House' - implemented by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which aims at improving the flows of information and facilitating discussions on the use of genetic resources among stakeholders in the European Union. As you may know, the access to genetic resources is disciplined under the 1992 Rio Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and, more specifically, its Bonn Guidelines for the access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources, an issue that concern you directly as an organization interested in the use of genetic material and in the implementation of the CBD. A web-based platform to spread information We are aware of the complexity of these issues and the difficulties that users of genetic resources, citizens, and local communities, encounter whenever they need to access information on existing legislation and policy, or more simply to be kept updated on the latest developments. For this reason, one of this project’s outputs is the establishment of a web-based platform containing pertinent information on ABS in the European Union, such as legislation, policies, best practices, voluntary instruments, etc. Moreover, the web-based platform (hereafter the 'EC ABS Portal') will host a discussion forum where members can exchange views and experiences on various issues related to the use of genetic resources. The website is available at, and will be fully operational from June. Become member (for free!) In order to design a functional platform we need your organization to become member. This is a free and easy operation that can be completed in a couple of minutes directly on the website indicated above. Registered members will be allowed to participate to forums, access contacts, retrieve information, post news and will be updated on the latest issues. Share Information, Share Benefits NGOs give voice to local communities, consumers, citizens, and conduct campaigns in support of nature: your knowledge is important to produce a 360 degrees perspective on genetic resource uses. To share information  contributes to awareness raising and to an equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. We aim at producing a user-friendly portal that can be a source of information for all. Active participation benefits all We hope you will be able to actively participate to this exercise providing us with a contact person from your organization (name, tel. number, email).


Africa 'cannot heal without science', say G8 academies

Thur 9 June 2005 | SciDev.Net by Catherine Brahic. Africa's problems will only be overcome if science and technology are made an integral part of the solution, warned science academies of the G8 group of the world's most industrialised countries and the Network of African Science Academies in a statement issued yesterday (8 June). "Without embedding science, technology and innovation in development we fear that ambitions for Africa will fail," says the statement. The statement, signed by the science academies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, was issued ahead of the annual summit of G8 leaders (6-8 July in Scotland, UK).


GM Contamination Register

This GM contamination register is the first of its kind in the world. Although GM crops were grown on over 80 million hectares in 2004, there is no global monitoring system. Because of this failure of national and international agencies, GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International have launched this joint initiative to record all incidents of contamination arising from the intentional or accidental release of genetically modified (GM) organisms (which are also known as genetically engineered organisms). It also includes illegal plantings of GM crops and the negative agricultural side-effects that have been reported.


NEPAD's Agricultural Policy Set in Motion

Mon, 23 May 2005 | Specific consultations between African Ministers of Agriculture and Ministers of finance to identify mechanisms to channel more external resources into the agricultural sector, is one of the recommendations of the round- up meeting of the New Partnership for Africa's Development's (NEPAD's) Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme's (CAADP's) implementation roll-out plan.


Satellites monitoring dust storms linked to health risk

Monday, 23 May 2005 | Medical researchers are using satellites to track massive dust storms blowing across Africa's Sahel belt. The aim is to learn more about lethal meningitis epidemics that often follow in the dust's wake.


Monsanto's seed wars: several updates

Monday, 23 May 2005 | There have been several recent developments in the battle Monsanto is waging to enforce its global intellectual property clamp on genetically modified seeds.


How USAID actively promotes GM agriculture

Monday, 23 May 2005 | This briefing examines how the US government uses USAID to actively promote GM agriculture, focusing on USAID's major programmes for agricultural biotechnology and the regions where these programmes are most active in parts of Africa and Asia. The briefing highlights that: these USAID programmes are part of a multi-pronged strategy to advance US interests with GM crops increasingly the US government uses multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements and high-level diplomatic pressure.


Zambia builds high-tech lab to detect GM food imports

Friday, 13 May 2005 | LUSAKA - Zambia has begun building a modern molecular biology laboratory to detect genetically modified (GM) organisms entering the country. The National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) began the project last month. It is expected to finish by December. The Norwegian government has donated US$330,000 for buying equipment and training scientists.


NEPAD Withdraws Support for Technology Summit

Monday, 23 May 2005 | The New Partnership for African Development has withdrawn support for the forthcoming Information and Communication Technology conference to be held in Nairobi.


Two new retroviruses transmitted from animals identified

Monday, 23 May 2005 | A team of researchers has discovered two new retroviruses among central Africans who hunt nonhuman primates. They believe the findings demonstrate the need to regularly survey those human populations known to be in contact with animals for new infectious diseases emerging from animals. The study, which was first reported at the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, is now published in the May 16, Online Early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Africa's Top Biosafety Envoy Shut Out of Canada Talks

BROOKLIN, Canada, 19 May 2005 (IPS) - Africa's chief negotiator for the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety has been denied entry into Canada to attend meetings to finalise key provisions regarding the international movement of genetically engineered organisms.


Lack of political interest hurting agriculture

IPS, 20 January 2005. When African leaders met at an African Union summit in Mozambique last year, their pledges to improve agriculture in their countries rang sincere, but ran up against the immensity - some realists thought the impracticality - of their goals. They promised to devote 10% of their national budgets to agriculture, and follow steps that would produce an annual growth rate of 6% in agriculture in their respective countries. Some countries in Southern Africa are inching toward a measure of success. All are signatories to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme ( CAADP), an initiative that falls under NEPAD's blueprint to attract foreign investments in return for good governance, and seeks to produce a medley of positive social changes using agriculture as the engine. This and other schemes have been talked about in many African countries. The difference now is they have been accepted as pan-African policy, and the dissenting voices are not raised against the programmes themselves, but are expressions of concern over the likelihood of funding and the political will to move forward.


African scientific research council proposed

SciDev.Net, 23 December 2004.Egypt's Ministry of Scientific Research has proposed that the African Union should set up an African Council for Scientific Research (ACSR) to help promote technology-based economic development across the continent. The ACSR would coordinate the work of African research centres and highlight priorities for African development. These include healthcare management and delivery; agriculture and food technology; efficient water management; biotechnology; and African traditional medicine. The proposed council would also explore the most effective ways of enhancing research in African countries, building up research capabilities, improving the overall performance and efficiency of existing institutions, and acting upon issues referred to it by the ministers of scientific research in African states.


EU divided on plans to curb illegal timber trade

ENN, 22 December 2004. EU members are divided over a European Commission plan to crack down on the lucrative illegal timber trade by making exporters prove their wood is not from endangered rainforests. EU farm ministers were discussing a voluntary timber certification system that might lead to a global agreement to clean up the $150 billion forest product trade. Environmental groups estimate European imports of illegally felled timber are worth Euro1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) a year, and say the trade can lead to more forest fires and poaching.


GM boom ‘could spell economic growth for poor nations’

SciDev.Net. 20 December 2004. Developing countries are playing an important role in the expansion of GM crops, and are set to play an increasingly important role both in growing and researching the plants in the next ten years, says a report from the Council for Biotechnology Information. The Global Diffusion of Plant Biotechnology 2004 report shows that over the past decade, the fastest growth of GM crops has been in developing countries. Globally, planting of GM crops has increased at an annual rate of 15% since they were first introduced in the mid-1990s, says the FAO. If this rate were sustained, the global market would reach US$210 billion by 2014, nearly a five-fold increase from its current US$44 billion value. In its report, the Council argues that developing nations stand to benefit most from this growth. It says the gross domestic product of poor nations adopting GM crops could increase by 2% by 2014.