Knowledge for Development

Developments

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


FAO breaks new ground in geographic data management

FAO, 21 July 2004. Advances in remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technology have led to a dramatic expansion in the geographic information available, yet access to this information remains limited. To help put this information in the hands of those who need it, FAO has developed GeoNetwork, a spatial information management system that provides access via the Internet to a wide range of geographically referenced data from a variety of sources, to support decision-makers in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food security and to promote multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable development.

23/12/2004


FAO and INEA sign agreement to promote food security in the Caribbean

FAO, 21 July 2004. The FAO and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria (INEA) have signed an agreement to strengthen training activities related to food security in the Caribbean. The $50,000 project, 'Promoting CARICOM/CARIFORUM Food Security,' will be funded with an extra-budgetary Italian contribution to the Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety. Activities undertaken by INEA will focus on capacity building in trade policy analysis, planning and negotiation. Training workshops will be conducted in CARICOM member countries.

23/12/2004


Biosciences boost for eastern and central Africa

SciDev.net, 16 July 2004. A 'biosciences facility for eastern and central Africa', one of four projected 'centres of excellence' in Africa, will begin its research activities on 1 November 2004. The institute, located in Nairobi, will focus on agricultural production and should give a boost to the application of science and technology to development in Africa.

23/12/2004


Molecular marker assisted selection as a potential tool for genetic improvement of crops, forest trees, livestock and fish in developing countries

FAO, 16 July 2004. Summary of the 10th conference of the FAO Biotechnology Forum, November/December 2003. Marker assisted selection (MAS) is a complementary technology for use in conjunction with more established conventional methods of genetic selection for plant and animal improvement. MAS has generated a good deal of expectations, many of which have yet to be realised. The issues and concerns raised included considerations of costs and gains, intellectual property rights and the benefits of partnerships to allow developing countries greater participation in development and use of MAS.

23/12/2004


Ag-science alliance: US research institutions band together to share biotech breakthroughs

The Scientist, 15 July 2004. Scientists at leading US agricultural research universities say they are banding together to insure their right to share information from new breakthroughs on their patented technologies. The new Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) wants licensing agreements to permit academic researchers to make findings available to others who are working to create and improve crops for both the developing world and the domestic market.

23/12/2004


International plant genetic resources treaty enters into force

FAO, 29 June 2004. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, a legally binding instrument encouraging sustainable agriculture, entered into force today. 55 countries have now ratified it. 'This is the start of a new era', said FAO Director-General, Dr Jacques Diouf. 'The Treaty brings governments, farmers and plant breeders together and offers a multilateral framework for accessing genetic resources and sharing their benefits. Humankind needs to safeguard and further develop the precious crop gene pool that is essential for agriculture'.

23/12/2004


West African leaders give cautious thumbs up to biotech

IRIN, 23 June 2004. Four West African presidents said this week that they were in favour of GM crops to solve food production problems but that they wanted to be sure about consumer safety and would proceed cautiously. At an agricultural science conference in Ouagadougou the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ghana voiced their support for biotechnology that fitted the needs of the continent, but 'our obligation to the people to provide safe food, means we must proceed with caution'.

23/12/2004


Mandela fund for science education

New Vision (Kampala), 21 June 2004. Nelson Mandela is to be immortalised as donors and education experts create a foundation to promote science and technology in a bid to bail out the African continent from its current economic woes. The Nelson Mandela Foundation for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa will have scientific centres of excellence across the four regions of the continent.

23/12/2004


Farmers in Malawi urged to use compost to raise yields

SciDev.Net, 11 June 2004. Agricultural experts are urging Malawian subsistence farmers to use organic compost - instead of manufactured fertilisers - to boost soil fertility and increase crop productivity.

23/12/2004


Science academies in Americas form network

SciDev, 11 June 2004. Science academies in the Americas have set up a regional network in a bid to strengthen the way that science and technology can act as a tool for enhancing development. At a meeting in Santiago, Chile, the InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) agreed to help build national scientific capacities by strengthening regional collaboration in S&T. The academies of Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, the US and the Caribbean Scientific Union have been elected as members of the executive board.

23/12/2004


Can 'plant passports' put bioprospecting back on track?

SciDev, 10 June 2004. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) sought to promote the sustainable use of biological resources in a way that would bring benefits to countries where they are found ? many being the poorer developing nations. But instead, the search for potentially valuable natural products, such as medicinal compounds in plants, has often elicited suspicion and fear of exploitation.

18/11/2004


New law to protect SA's biodiversity

Cape Argus, 3 June 2004. President Thabo Mbeki has signed into law South Africa's new Biodiversity Act, hailed by some as the most significant environmental legislation adopted in 10 years of democratic government. The new act gives the highest possible political protection to South Africa?s incredibly rich biological diversity. Among other things, it requires full environmental impact assessments before the introduction of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

18/11/2004


Living modified organisms: new guidelines for risk assessment

FAO press release, 1 June 2004: New guidelines for determining if a living modified organism (LMO) poses a hazard to plants have been published by FAO. Some 130 countries adopted this unique international standard on how to assess the risks of LMOs, including insects, fungi and bacteria, that may be harmful to plants. Report (pdf): International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures See also: International Phytosanitary Portal (IPP) .

18/11/2004


Promoting the application of science and technology to meet the Millennium Development Goals

Commission on Science and Technology for Development (StDev, UNCTAD), 28 May 2004. The Commission reaffirmed that the application of S&T is central in facilitating the achievement of most MDGs, and that countries that do not prioritize S&T are unlikely to achieve these goals. The resolution recommended that the Commission function as a global forum for the exchange of best practices and lessons learned in individual countries' efforts to apply S&T to their development needs.

18/11/2004


UK minister denies lack of science in aid programmes

SciDev.Net, 13 May 2004. Britain?s minister for international development has rejected charges that the UK does not take sufficient account of science in its overseas aid programmes. His statement coincided with the release by DFID of its draft strategy for supporting research over the next two years, during which time its spending on research is planned to increase by at least 25%. Benn said that both science and technology were ?fundamental? in the fight against poverty. ?It is crucial that [developing countries] achieve the capacity both to produce science and to put science into practice,? he said. DFID Research Funding Framework 2005?7.

18/11/2004


Support for African science

The Scientist, 7 May 2004. NEPAD is creating five regional science and technology programs to encourage development in the poorest region of the world, where half the population lives on under $1 a day and the average life expectancy is 47. John Mugabe, of NEPAD's African Forum on Science and Technology for Development (AFSTD), expects to appoint experts to deepen scientific cooperation and create five centers of excellence in North, East, West, Central, and Southern Africa.

18/11/2004


International Council for Science (ICSU) launches new website

Innovations, 6 May 2004. ICSU has launched a new website thatgives access to information on a wide spectrum of scientific topics relevant to both science and society. ICSU?s objective is to provide a forum for scientists, whatever their country of origin or field of expertise, to address major issues on an international level. ICSU website.

18/11/2004


The gene revolution: great potential for the poor, but no panacea

FAO press release, 17 May 2004. Biotechnology holds great promise for agriculture in developing countries, but so far only farmers in a few developing countries are reaping these benefits. ?Neither the private nor the public sector has invested significantly in new genetic technologies for the so-called 'orphan crops' such as cowpea, millet, sorghum and tef that are critical for the food supply and livelihoods of the world's poorest people," said FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf. The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04 (pdf) .

18/11/2004


UNESCO and Minister of Science of Brazil launch virtual library of Portuguese language books

UNESCO, 13 May 2004. More than 20,000 Portuguese-language book titles will be made available in libraries, schools and universities in Portuguese-speaking Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe) and East Timor, according to an agreement concluded by the Brazilian government and the Ebrary / E-libro web portal. E-libro portal .

18/11/2004


Canada sows further doubt on GM seed patents

SciDev.Net, 1 June 2004, Editorial. A ruling by Canada's Supreme Court that a company's patent on a gene covers the use of all products containing that gene may have reduced legal uncertainty about GM crops. But it has highlighted ? and heightened ? the political conflict over them. It is important that individual countries address the political issues raised, and determine in a democratic manner how they should be addressed in national legislation.

18/11/2004