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Biotechnology: Eastern African Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Trade Policy

Baumüller, H   Bolo, M   (eds)  (eds)

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), Geneva, Switzerland   June 1 2007

ISBN 978-2-8399-0281-6 (paperback)

The central theme of this book revolves around the intersection of trade and biotechnology policies and their contribution to sustainable development in general, but more specifically, from an Eastern African perspective. These issues are at the heart of the on-going debates on the potential role of biotechnology to solve some of Africa’s developmental challenges, notably, food security and ecosystem sustainability.

International trade is increasingly confronting societies with the need to make hard decisions on the consumption and use of biotechnology products, particularly in the field of agriculture, calling for an urgency to accelerate the capabilities of African and other developing countries to generate viable options to deal with such a reality. In the context of Eastern Africa, as in many other developing country regions, biotech products are present through trade or imported through emergency in-kind food aid, and they flow across into borders and within the region. At the same time, these countries need to put in place biotechnology regulatory frameworks to fulfil their obligations under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which they are parties to, while ensuring compatibility of their regulations with WTO rules, such as those governing the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Moreover, countries wishing to grow biotech crops will need to set up systems to comply with stringent labelling and traceability requirements of trading partners such as the EU or China. These developments are threatening to dominate national biotech agendas and priority-setting, even more so in the absence of well-developed policies to guide biotech development and trade.