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National Node of the BCH
Capacity Building Activities, Projects and Opportunities
Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2005-06-14 16:10 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2009-10-27 16:03 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2009-10-27 16:03 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)

General information
Title of the initiative
BiosafeTrain - Capacity Building for Biosafety and Ecological Impact Assessment of Transgenic Plants in East Africa
Contact person
Dr. Gabor L. Lövei
Project Leader, Senior Scientist
Integrated Pest Management
University of Aarhus, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (AU DJF)
Flakkebjerg Research Centre, Forsoegsvej 1
Denmark, 4200
Phone:+45 89993636
Joy Owango
Communications Manager
BiosafeTrain East African Office
University of Nairobi, School of Biological Sciences
Gecaga Inst. Bldg., Chiromo Campus
P.O.Box 212553 - 00100 GPO
Beneficiary country(ies)
  • Uganda
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Kenya
  • CBD Regional Groups - Africa
Type of initiative
Main target group(s) / beneficiaries
  • Target group: Students,scientist, legislators and other stakeholders in East African countries
Start Date
Ending date
Donor(s) information
Agency(ies) or Organization(s) implementing or sponsoring the initiative (Additional Information)
  • Organization: University of Aarhus, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dept. of Integrated Pest Management
  • Type of Organization: Research / Academic
Budget information
DANIDA, total budget in Phase1 (2004-2007) - US$1,530,000
Availability of funds for participants
Activity details
Description of the initiative
This is a collaborative project (see collaborating organizations above) designed to assess the agricultural and ecological impacts of introducing GM crops and to build capacity in the field of risk assessment/risk analysis. It is funded by the Danida Programme on Enhancement of Research Capacity (ENRECA). Phase 1 of the project started in December 2004 and will last three years.

The project has three components: 1) Training Activities; 2) Biosafety Training Laboratory; 3) Research on Biosafety of GM crops. For more details, see 'National Level Activities' below.

National level activities
*Training Activities:
Human resources development:
(1) MSc and PhD-level educational training on agricultural and environmental impacts of GM plants, through joint African-Danish supervision at the local universities/research institutes. Currently 4 PhD and 6 MSc students are working on their Theses in the 3 partner countries.
(2) Specialist biosafety courses have been developed and held in Kenya. The second course is to takeplace in July 2007 in Tanzania.
Institutional strengthening:
A GM Biosafety Level 2 glasshouse is under construction at KARI, Kenya, a Gm detection training laboratory at the University of Nairobi, Kenya; an Arthropod Biosafety and quarantine Laboratory was developed in Uganda, and a training lab + Gm glasshouse is under construction at the Univ. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

*Research on Biosafety of GM crops:
Of the ongoing projects, 3 are in entomology, 3 in weed science, 3 in gene flow/population genetics, and one in soil science. The crops involved are maize, cotton, and rice.

International level activities
Strengthening north-south and South-South co-operation:
The training material was developed in co-operation with the Swiss-funded GMO-ERA Project,and in collaboration with The BioSeg project, implemented by Embrapa, Brazil.
International Guidance:
We held the training course in Niamey, Niger, at the invitation of AGRHYMET, in November 2006. BiosafeTrain is co-organising the Second Meeting of Academic Institutions involved in Biosafety Training, Malaysia, April 2007.
Andow, D.A., Lövei G.L.  & Arpaia S. 23006. Bt transgenic crops, natural enemies and implications for environmental risk assessment. Nature Biotechnology 24, 749-751.
Andow DA, Birch NE, Dusi A, Fontes E, Hilbeck A, Lang A, Lövei GL, Pires C, Sujii E, Underwood E, Wheatley RA 2006. Non-target and biodiversity ecological risk assessment for GM crops. Proceedings of 9th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (ISBR), September 24-29 2006, Jeju Island, Korea, pp 68-73.
Lövei, GL. 2006. Biological control as an ecosystem service and its relevance to GMO biosafety testing. In: Hansen, LS, Enkegaard, A, Steenberg, T, Ravnskov, S., Larsen, J. (Eds) Implementation of biocontrol practice in temperate regions - present and near future. Danish Inst Agricultural Sciences Report Series 119, 37-42.
Andow, D. A., Arpaia, S., Fontes, E. M. G., Hilbeck, A., Lövei, G. L., Nelson, K. C., Treon, A., Underwood, E. (in press) International Project on GMO Environmental Risk Assessment Methodologies (GMO ERA Project). Environmental Biosafety Research
Topping, C.J., Lövei, G.L. 2006. The potential for landscape-scale ecological impact assessment of GMO crops using agent-based modeling.  Proceedings of the NJF seminar No. 379, Aspects of Growing Transgenic Crops.B.Boelt (Ed), pp. 40-42.
Book chapters:
Hilbeck A, Andow DA, Arpaia S, Birch ANE, Fontes EMG, Lövei GL, Sujii E, Wheatley R, Underwood E. 2006.Non-target and Biodiversity Risk Assessment Methodology Ch 5 in: Hilbeck, A., Andow, D.A., Fontes, E. (Eds.) Environmental Risk Assessment of Transgenic Organisms: A Case Study of Bt cotton in Brazil. CABI International, Wallingsford. U.K. Pp. 115-132.
Sujii ER, Lövei GL, Sétamou M, Silvie P, Fernandes MG, Dubois GSJ, Almeida RP 2006. Non-target and biodiversity impacts: non-target herbivorous pests. Ch 6 in: Hilbeck, A., Andow, D.A., Fontes, E. (Eds.) Environmental Risk Assessment of Transgenic Organisms: A Case Study of Bt cotton in Brazil. CABI International, Wallingsford. U.K. Pp. 136-154.

Other source of funding
The project is funded by the Danish Agency for International Development (Danida)
Objective and main expected outcomes or lesson learned
To enable East African partner countries to make well-informed decisions regarding the adoption and management of GM crops.

To have GM biosafety/impact assessment capacity and procedures established in Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania.
The main outputs of the project will be: (1) personnel trained in GM biosafety methods, together with (2) appropriate training facilities, (3) research laboratories, and (4) containment facilities. These will all be appropriately equipped, the necessary protocols established to international standards, so that they can (5) generate the necessary knowledge to achieve the main objective. Further, we will (6) initiate discussion on societal & ethical concerns, so that these important elements appear in the decision on the adoption of transgenic crops in the region. Our aim is also to make sure (7) the existing guidelines are applied, tested, and modified to the region as necessary, leading to (8) improved guidelines and thus improved biosafety in East Africa.

Main outcomes
1. Biosafety course material developed, 2 courses held in 2006, + 2 planned for 2007
2. 7 scientific publications and 23 presentations/posters at international forums held in 2005-2006
3. Two student workshops held (2005, 2006), third planned Jul 2007

Lessons learned
Student workshop useful to enhance awareness of project in partner countries.
General thematic area(s)
  • Institutional capacity
  • Human resources capacity development and training
  • Risk assessment and other scientific and technical expertise
  • Risk management
  • Scientific biosafety research relating to LMOs
  • Scientific, technical and institutional collaboration at subregional, regional and international levels
  • Technology transfer
  • Identification of LMOs, including their detection
  • Public awareness, participation and education in biosafety
  • Socio-economic considerations
Additional Information
Additional Information
Other collaborating organizations
*University of Nairobi (UONBI), School of Biological Sciences
*Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Biotechnology Centre
*University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Departments of Botany and Molecular Biology & Biotechnology
*Makerere University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Crop Production
*University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Life Sciences, Department of Ecology
*Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment (CeBRA)