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Cablegate: Biotechnology in Mozambique

VZCZCXRO8212
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0051/01 0141630
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141630Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1188
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0001
RUCLRFA/USDA FAS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000051

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EB/TPP/ABT, OES/PCI, AND AF/S
USDA FAS FOR OSTA/NTPMB, OCBD AND OCRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD KPAO PREL SENV SF TBIO MZ
SUBJECT: BIOTECHNOLOGY IN MOZAMBIQUE

1. SUMMARY: A signatory of the Cartagena Protocol on
Biosafety, Mozambique is eager to leverage biotechnology to
improve its agricultural productivity; however there has been
little or no investment in biotech research thus far. The
government of Mozambique (GRM) is calling for a second green
revolution and biotechnology is a tool to advance the
agricultural sector. This cable was developed by
FAS/Pretoria in coordination with Embassy Maputo. END
SUMMARY.

---------------------------
Biotechnology in Mozambique
---------------------------

2. Mozambique has signed and ratified the Cartagena Protocol
on Biosafety, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. A
National Biosafety Framework was drafted to help guide
further development of biotechnology activities. These
regulatory framework efforts were largely due to the presence
of a UNEP/GEF program for 18 months that helped prepare the
National Biosafety
Frameworks "in agreement with the provisions of Cartagena
Protocol" and help Mozambique ratify the Protocol. Thus,
there are regulators with some training and understanding of
biosafety issues such as assessment of food safety,
environmental risk evaluation, LMO detection, etc.

3. Mozambique is eager to improve its agricultural
productivity and recognizes that biotechnology can be a
valuable tool to enhance the efficiency of its farming sector
and help in reducing dependence on inputs while improving the
quality of food. However, there has been little or no
investment so far in biotechnology research although some
strides have been made with biosafety regulation.

4. Due to the potential of the agriculture sector in
Mozambique, and the lack of investment/advancement in that
sector, the Government of Mozambique made a call for a second
green revolution for Mozambique. One of the tools that will
be a leading factor in bringing change and advancement in the
agriculture sector in Mozambique will be the promotion and
use of biotechnology.

----------------------------------------
NATIONAL BIOSECURITY REGULATION ON GMO'S
----------------------------------------

5. Identified as a cross-cutting technology in Mozambique's
Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, due to the
enormous potential this technology has to impact various
sectors of the economy, biotechnology policy development is
moving more rapidly in Mozambique than in Madagascar. A
National Biosecurity Regulation on Genetically Modified
Organisms was published in the GOM official bulletin on April
25, 2007.

6. This regulation was formulated by the Inter-Institutional
Group on Biosecurity (GIIBS). The GIIBS is tasked to
co-ordinate biosafety activities in Mozambique. It is an
inter-institutional and multi-disciplinary group with the
task of coordinating the process to establish the National
Biosafety Framework including the development of biosafety
policy, regulatory regime, and administration based on the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which Mozambique ratified in
December 2001.

7. The Ministry of Science and Technology is the national
competent authority and presides over the GIIBS. The GIIBS
consists of representatives from each of the following
Ministries: Science and Technology, Agriculture, Environment,
Health, Industry and Commerce, Fisheries, Planning and
Development, and academic and research institutions.
Additionally, representatives and specialists from public and
private entities may be invited to participate in GIIBS
meetings. (Note: Mozambique's biosafety policy appears to be
largely risk-averse, and rooted in the 'precautionary
principle' and thus more similar to the policies of European
countries and that of EU. End Note)

8. Mozambique has experience with biotech-related
controversies and issues as it is a receiving/shipping point
for donated corn from the United States for famine
stricken-regions in Southern Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe etc).

---------------------------------------
Previous Biotech Outreach in Mozambique
---------------------------------------


MAPUTO 00000051 002 OF 002


9. Using USDA Emerging Markets Program funding, FAS/Pretoria
included three Mozambicans in an agricultural biotechnology
informational tour of the United States in November 2009. In
FY2008, FAS/Pretoria secured funding from USDA's Emerging
Markets Programs to host a workshop on basic biotechnology
and regulations. The workshop provided an opening to further
advance biotechnology and biosafety policies in Mozambique.
The meeting featured lectures by two invited experts from
overseas, Dr. C. S. Prakash, Tuskegee University, and Dr.
Martin Lema, biosafety regulator from Argentina, along with
some very high-level policy experts from various local
ministries -- Science and Technology, Agriculture,
Environment, Health, and Trade; along with university
scientists and also representatives from CGIAR centers.

10. As a result of this workshop and the relationships
developed during those two days, FAS/Pretoria was invited to
participate in a biotechnology regulations conference
sponsored by the GRM and the Spanish Embassy in Maputo.
FAS/Pretoria provided for the participation of a
biotechnology researcher from South Africa's Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who is also an
active member of AfricaBio, Dr. Eugenia Barros. Dr. Barros
was a speaker and moderator at the conference. She provided
an excellent overview of biotechnology in South Africa and
lessons learned through the development of its biosafety
policy. Dr. Barros is a native Portuguese speaker, which
lent more credibility and audience acceptance to her
participation. Since the conference, Dr. Barros' has
remained in contact with the legislators and regulators in
Mozambique and has consulted with them on various issues
relating to biotechnology regulation implementation.

11. Also in the past year, the Embassy hosted an Embassy
Science Fellow to work with the GRM to prepare a report of
the status of biotechnology in Mozambique and an
implementation plan for advancement of biotechnology in
Mozambique. An important observation made throughout the
biotechnology outreach efforts over the past year was the
important need for capacity building to implement the
biosafety regulation in their countries, especially in the
development of specialists in food safety, environmental risk
assessment, and intellectual property rights issues.

12. The GRM has requested assistance in planning and
implementing producer outreach strategies, including the
development of educational materials in Portuguese.
AfricaBio is working with contacts in Mozambique in
developing these materials but are looking for assistance in
funding the publication of said materials.

13. COMMENT: There is serious potential for growth and
investment in the agricultural sector in Mozambique. Clear
rules and better understanding on the part of the GRM will
attract greater foreign investment. The USG can continue to
support the agricultural sector by supporting the
implementation of sensible biosafety regulations and
increased domestic research and capacity building. END
COMMENT.
CHAPMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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