Knowledge for Development

S&T Organisations / Web resources

African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non-profit organisation, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It provides authoritative, credible, relevant and current information, research and policy analysis in issues pertaining to genetic engineering, biosafety and biopiracy in Africa. The website contains a wealth of biosafety information for South Africa and Africa. Navigate your way through Biosafety case by case assessments, the emerging fields of agrofuels and biopiracy.ACB is supported by EED, HIVOS, SWEDBIO, NORAD and is a member of the Third World Network and other networks in Africa.


Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB)

APCoAB, a programme of Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), is an apolitical forum with a goal to enhance the benefits of biotechnologies for sustainable agricultural development in the Asia-Pacific region, through greater stakeholder partnerships, improved policy environment, enhanced capacity building and greater public awareness. The consortium's strategic areas include research networking, capacity building, knowledge and information dissemination and policy support on biotechnology. It has held an Expert Consultation on "Post Harvest Technology and Value Addition of Horticultural Produce" at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI, Malaysia) during December 2010.


EU Research network to tackle plant nutrition

The Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) project, “Biochemical and Genetic Dissection of Control of Plant Nutrition” (also known as “Bionut”), brings together eight of Europe’s top plant research institutes, lead by scientists from the John Innes Centre (UK). Each institute will host one PhD student, and the studentships will be linked to ensure that a fully integrated approach is taken to get the whole picture of plant nutrition. This integration is a key feature of the network, as it advances the science beyond focussing on one mineral nutrient, such as nitrogen or sulphur, to look at the combined nutritional needs of the plant. The results will be brought together to produce the most complete mathematical model of plant nutrition to date. This European research initiative will take steps to understand how crop plants use available nutrients, and address the need for crop varieties that produce higher yields with lower inputs and reduced environmental impact. The integrated approach adopted by the initiative will draw on the complementary skills and specialties of the research groups. Geneticists will screen for undiscovered genes involved in controlling plant nutrition, and systems biologists, biochemists and plant physiologists will combine to work out the functions of these genes. Other partners will focus on the translation of this research into crop plants in the field, ensuring the pipeline from the laboratory to the field is fully covered by this project. (Source: John Innes Centre, 5 April 2011)


GM Approval Database

This online tool is an easy to use database of Biotech/GM crop approvals for various biotechnology stakeholders. It features the Biotech/GM crop events and traits that have been approved for commercialization and planting and/or for import for food and feed use with a short description of the crop and the trait.


Major breakthrough on how viruses infect plants

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) plant scientists have discovered a genetic mechanism that enables viral organisms, in this case the Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV), to infect hosts and cause diseases. One of the scientists, Dr Ming-Bo Wang explained: “CMV, accompanied by a special type of viral particle called a ‘satellite’, causes its distinctive yellowing symptoms in plants by slicing a gene that makes chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves. By preventing the production of chlorophyll, the virus causes the leaves to become partially or entirely yellowed which dramatically affects growth and productivity." (Physorg, 14/7/2011)


Global plant database set to promote biodiversity research and Earth-system sciences

The world's largest database on plants' functional properties, or traits, has been published. Scientists compiled three million traits for 69,000 out of the world's +/- 300,000 plant species. The achievement rests on a worldwide collaboration of scientists from 106 research institutions. The initiative, known as TRY, is hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany and promises to become an essential tool for biodiversity research and Earth-system sciences. Plant traits – their morphological and physiological properties – determine how plants compete for resources, e.g. light, water, soil nutrients, and where and how fast they can grow. Ultimately they determine how plants influence ecosystem properties such as rates of nutrient cycling, water use and carbon dioxide uptake. A major bottleneck to modelling the effects of climate change at ecosystem and whole-earth scales has been a lack of trait data for sufficiently large numbers of species. The first release of the TRY database was published this week in the journal Global Change Biology. The availability of plant trait data in the unified global database promises to support a paradigm shift in Earth system sciences. Indeed, analyses of the TRY database demonstrate for the first time on a global scale that most of the observed trait variation is represented by differences among plant species. (Eurekalert, 1/07/2011)


The Global Plant Council

The Global Plant Council is a coalition of plant science societies of the world that brings plant scientists together to work synergistically toward solving the pressing problems facing humankind and that speaks with a strong voice from a plant science perspective to inform the global debate on those problems. The mission of the Council is to define and engage in coordinated strategies that impact the most critical issues and to increase awareness of the central importance of plant science in addressing these issues. The shared vision and effort will enable more effective use of knowledge and resources, accelerating progress in solving the challenges of world hunger, energy, climate change, health and well-being, sustainability and environmental protection. The Council proposed that membership in GPC is for not-for-profit professional plant science societies/organizations, the key component being that the organization represents plant scientists.


POL-SABINA : Policy and support actions for Southern African natural product partnership

The Policy and Support Actions for Southern African Natural Product Partnership (POL-SABINA) is funded through the European Union Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (EU-ACP) programme. The project will develop a ‘Virtual Research Environment’ for SABINA; provide training courses and workshops on a number of topics such as project management and fund management. It will address intellectual property management in the SADC region. SABINA (Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products) is funded by the Carnegie Corporation as a regional initiative in science and education. The programme aims to grow human capacity in natural products research through training of PhD and MSc students in the partner institutions.


Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS)

The Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), which is facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a new website. The website is a one-stop-shop for information on the responsible development and use of biotechnology in the developing world. It provides information on PBS’ two regions of focus – Africa and Asia – and provides tools and resources – including easy-to-download copies of its publications – for policymakers throughout the world.


Global Herbicide Resistance Challenge: International conference

Dates: 18-22 February 2013Venue: Perth, AustraliaThe Global Resistance Challenge 2013 conference offers a multidisciplinary forum focused on all aspects of herbicide resistance in crops and weeds and their impact on global food production. Scientific sessions will range from the molecular basis of herbicide resistance evolution through agro-ecology and agronomy to on-farm resistance management. This conference is sponsored by BASF, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta, among others.

Monday 18 February 2013 - Friday 22 February 2013

Cartagena Protocol

This page offers basic information on the Cartagena Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity, what it represents, and what it does and does not cover.


Policies and regulatory frameworks

Policies and regulatory frameworks are required to make the Cartagena Protocol work. These need to be prepared at the national level. Two model biosafety laws are listed here. So far, there are few examples of such laws in ACP countries or papers discussing their theed.


Biosafety and risk assessment

A selection of articles, reports and other resources on biosafety and risk assessment in developing countries.


Biosafety in the UN

Various UN agencies and international organizations provide assistance for developing countries with the introduction of regulatory frameworks that are required under the Cartagena Protocol.


Biosafety in Africa

A large number of organizations in Africa are addessing the many issues surrounding biotechnology in agriculture. This page offers links to some of the most active pan-African organizations.


Biosafety in Europe

Organizations in Europe that provide information and services that are relevant to ACP countries.