Precautionary principle may threaten progress of agriculture, medicine in Africa, expert says

Image: UNDP
Image: UNDP

An over-reliance on the precautionary principle threatened to impede innovation in decisions made at [the recent] Convention on Biological Diversity (COP CBD), noted one agricultural expert.

Rodrigo Lima, partner director of Agroicone, Brasil, was responding to the stances taken by those who were pushing for more stringent regulations on genetic engineering, gene drives and synthetic biology at the just-concluded 2018 United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

In an exclusive interview with the Alliance for Science in Egypt, Lima stressed that poor information and lack of scientific knowledge tended to affect sound decision-making by many of the parties involved in the conference. However, he underscored the need for key players like scientists and academics to join the discussion to educate people about the potential benefits and possible risks associated with the technologies.

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Speaking on behalf of the AU, Eric Okoree, chief executive officer of the Ghana Biosafety Authority and the national focal point for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, said the continent was carefully considering these emerging technologies and putting the necessary regulatory systems in place.

“Africa’s position is to harness all possible emerging technologies,” he said. “We believe science and technology creates the jobs because the poverty gap is also a technology gap and so we want to make the best use of any new scientific procedure to improve our agriculture, health and living standards on the continent.

Read full, original article: Precautionary principle impedes innovation, says ag expert

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