A one-day sensitisation meeting on (BCH) the Bio Safety Clearing House Project convened recently at the Governor's Bantaba in Janjangbureh CRR.
Speaking earlier the acting focal person Mr. Abdoulie Sawo said the purpose of the meeting was to sensitise the general public about the benefits derived from the use of genetically modified organisms as well as the possible negative effects on the environment and human health.
According to him, the government of The Gambia, through the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and the Department of State for Forestry and Environment, signed an M.O.U. with the United Nations Environment Program. The purpose of the M.O.U. is to be the instrument for the country's participation in "building capacity for effective participation in the Bio Safety Clearing House. Mr. Sawo further stated that the BCH project would help set up a database using the established BCH central portal, with which the country can share in a transparent manner, "information pertaining to regulations and decisions on the importation of (GMO) or genetically modified organisms and the proper handling of LMOs, living modified organisms.
For his part Dr. Ebrima Njie, a biologist, said the Cartagena Protocol on Bio Safety is an international agreement concluded and adopted in the framework of the convention on Biological Diversity. The objectives of the convention on Biological Diversity are; conservation of bio-diversity, sustainable use of bio-diversity and fair and equitable sharing of benefits. He added this to the goals outlined, "to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organism resulting from modern bio-technology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks o human health and focusing in particular on trans-boundary movement.
Mr. Tamsir Mbob, the principal livestock officer and also a member of the task force, said humankind is faced with the challenge of producing enough food to feed an ever-increasing population. Through the cross breeding and hybridisation of selected crops and animal species agricultural output can increase significantly.
According to him, during the last few decades, advances in the scientific disciplines such as biology, genetics and engineering have revolutionised biotechnology with a wider range of products and services. The most impressive growths, he added, have come in the areas of agriculture and medicine. "There are real concerns about the implications of the release of LMOs into the environment. [The concerns include] the possibilities of releasing virulent strains of living organisms and their impact on humans, ecosystems and other organisms. These have become concerns worldwide."
Mr. Mbob pointed out that there is a need for countries to put in place adequate measures to ensure the safe use handling, and disposal of both LMOs and GMOs.
The vote of thanks was given by the CRR South RAC Memba Dahaba.