The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) has announced a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the development of effective safety and regulatory systems for biotechnology in Africa.
Awarded through the foundation's agricultural development program, the grant will be used to improve training, information gathering, and provide other support for regionally based specialists so African countries have the opportunity to safely access scientific advances. The project also will work to help governments and scientists implement reliable regulatory systems that follow recognized international guidelines for the protection of consumers and the environment.
Working primarily out of its new facility in Cape Town, South Africa, ICGEB will organize workshops to respond to the needs of scientists and representatives of National Competent Authorities in different regions. The project will offer fellowships for a one-year residential masters of science course in biosafety, and will provide funds to encourage the participation of African biosafety experts in regional and international conferences in order to support their development and foster links with the international scientific community. ICGEB is actively encouraging African women to become involved in all aspects of the project.
"African leaders have highlighted the need for appropriate policies and regulations to ensure the safety and effectiveness of biotechnology," said Rajiv Shah, director of agricultural development for the Gates Foundation's global development program. "This project will bolster those efforts so African regulators, farmers and consumers can make informed choices about how to build healthy, productive lives."