Biosafety is the protection of human and animal health and the environment from the possible effects of products of biotechnology. Biosafety entails risk analysis. Risk analysis has three components namely risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Risk assessment is the evaluation of the likelihood of the occurrence of an undesirable event. It is science based, carried out on a case-by-case basis, comparative and iterative.
In Zimbabwe risk assessment is an obligation under international agreements (e.g. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety) and national laws which include the National Biotechnology Authority Act [Chap.14.31] of 2006 - section 25. Risk management entails choosing and executing actions to ensure that risks are controlled. Whilst risk communication is the exchange of information between stakeholders and risk assessors and risk managers for guiding the risk assessment and risk management processes.
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international agreement on biosafety, which seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety makes it clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle (Principle 15) which was adopted from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. To this end a holistic and comprehensive regulatory approach that ensures that biosafety measures, based on the precautionary principle, covers the entire range of activities from research and development of GMOs to their commercialization, and post-release monitoring is followed in Zimbabwe.
The Biosafety Protocol was one of the basis for improvements made in Zimbabwe’s National Biosafety Framework in 2006. Zimbabwe has been a party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety since 2005. The country actively participates in Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP) and Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) activities.
Please visit our BCH page - http://bch.cbd.int/about/countryprofile.shtml?country=zw
National Biosafety Framework (NBF)
The National Biosafety Framework is intended to enable the economically viable, scientifically sound, environmentally sustainable, and socially acceptable application of both conventional and modern biotechnology in priority areas of agriculture, health, energy and environment. National Biosafety Framework comprises of:
- The National Biotechnology Policy,
- An Act of Parliament-the National Biotechnology Authority Act [Chap.14.31]of 2006,
- Institutional arrangements in the form of the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) and Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs),
- Mechanisms for risk assessment (reviews), mechanisms for decisions making (NBA), mechanisms for public participation, mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement (Biosafety Inspectorate), and supporting guidelines and standards.
The National Biosafety Framework sets out to measure, assess and manage new biotechnologies. These set of measures are centred on the need to balance research and development interests and safety and biosecurity. It also provides for the establishment of regulatory regimes in biosafety, biosecurity, intellectual property bio-surveillance and bioethics.