RWANDA – Rwanda has taken a step in regulating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with the publication of a new biosafety law in its Official Gazette.

This law aims to ensure the safe handling, transfer, and use of GMOs within the country, balancing the potential benefits of modern biotechnology with considerations for biodiversity conservation and human health.

The Coordinator of Roots and Tubers Program at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), Athanase Nduwumuremyi, highlighted the significance of the biosafety law, noting that it places Rwanda among countries with an enabling environment for biotech initiatives.

This move is part of Rwanda’s broader efforts to embrace agricultural biotechnology responsibly.

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), under the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), plays a crucial role in improving policy environments and promoting informed decision-making on biotechnology across the continent.

Rwanda’s inclusion in the list of 12 African countries with biosafety or GMO regulations reflects a growing awareness of the importance of regulatory frameworks in biotech advancement.

While the biosafety law sets the groundwork for GMO regulation, Nduwumuremyi emphasized the need for ministerial orders or regulations to facilitate its effective implementation.

These orders would address key aspects such as the composition and responsibilities of the National Biosafety Committee, permit applications for GMO-related activities, and regulations on GMO product imports and trade.

Research advancements and field trials

Rwanda’s progress in GMO research is notable, with confined field trials already conducted on cassava and potato varieties resistant to major crop diseases.

The productivity of these varieties shows promising potential for enhancing food security and crop resilience.

With the new law in place, research efforts can expand to other crops like maize and bananas, addressing critical agricultural challenges.

One of the key outcomes of the biosafety law is the ability to translate research findings into tangible benefits for farmers.

Previously, limitations existed in releasing research results to farmers due to regulatory constraints. The new law bridges this gap, ensuring that research products can reach intended beneficiaries while adhering to regulatory standards.

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