African Biosafety Network of Expertise Project
The African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) project is implemented through a partnership between African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Michigan State University. Since 2009, the endeavor has been working towards building functional biosafety systems in African Union (AU) member states. It is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with an overall goal of building functional biosafety systems for enhanced regulatory capacity for agricultural biotechnology in Africa so that safe biotechnology crops can reach smallholder farmers to enhance agricultural productivity, food security and livelihoods. The ABNE network activities are implemented by a team of biosafety specialists from Africa based in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Kenya. MSU serves as an international partner of AUDA-NEPAD.
Looking at needs of the country and stakeholders, the ABNE network has catered and provided biosafety services, including up-to-date science-based information, training, technical assistance, policy advocacy, communication and outreach activities. Other biosafety services include training workshops, short courses, study tours, internships and technical consultations. During 2019-2020, ABNE offered 33 programs. Through these, 775 regulators, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. legal personnel, media, scientists, farmers and consumer organizations) from 19 AU member states benefited and were empowered with up-to-date information and resources for biosafety decision-making and policy development. A number of AU member states have made science-based regulatory decisions on biosafety applications for research field trials and general release of safe biotech crops.
Additionally, ABNE has provided continued support on biosafety issues related to Africa in regional and international fora (e.g. CBD, COP-MOP, OECD). In order to facilitate continued networking and information sharing, ABNE has formed five resource networks of trained personnel in Africa encompassing core areas:
- Environmental safety
- Food safety
- Legal and policy
In providing biosafety services, ABNE network actively collaborates with other service providers in Africa and internationally.