Modern Biotechnology is regarded as one of the technologies that will change the face of agriculture and many other economic sectors. The ability of this technology to cross species boundaries makes this technology a powerful tool that has to be closely managed and mastered by nations where agriculture is a critical sector of the economy and livelihood of citizens.
Biotechnology Testing and Research Facilities
The NCRST has established the National GMO Testing, Training and Research Laboratory to facilitate full implementation of Namibia’s Biosafety Framework. The facilities will be designed to ensure compliance to international standards and would be prepared for accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025.
Biotechnology research facilities through coordinated research efforts, will aim to stimulate the transformation of knowledge to enhance food security through agricultural production, improve livelihoods and helping national entities to expand agricultural growth.
Administration of Biosafety Act
The Biosafety Act, 2006 (Act No. 7 of 2006)provides for measures to regulate activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transport, application and other uses of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and specified products derived from GMOs; to establish a Biosafety Council and define its powers, functions and duties; and to make provision for incidental matters.
Biosafety Act 2006 (Act No. 7 of 2006), Regulations were gazetted on 01 November 2016. The Commencement date of the gazette indicate the starting date that GMO’s are regulated through the Biosafety Act,2006. The declaration of Products Derived from or Containing GMOs for Purposes of the Biosafety Act, 2006 were gazetted in October 2018. Consequently, Biosafety Act, 2006, Guidelines for GMO’s Confined Field and Environmental release were developed in 2018. Any person who carries on any activity with or in relation to a GMO or GMO product for which a permit is required by the Biosafety Act 2006, must, if he or she wishes to continue with that activity, apply for a permit within 120 days after the publishing of GMO Product List Gazette. Currently applications for Permit to Place on the Market GMO’s has been launched with the Biosafety Council.
The Bioeconomy Strategy, to be developed is envisaged to be implemented from 2021 to 2026 and will set the scene for implementing programmes and initiatives that will help Namibia take advantage of innovation in the Bioeconomy sector.
Innovation is a crucial aspect in today’s business world due to various factors, particularly the rapid technological advances, the continuously changing business environment and the development of industrial structures and strategies. Innovation is also driven by evolving customer requirements and expectations which result in increased demand for new and improved products. This demand for innovation instigates enterprises to continuously seek
Methods to improve their products, processes and services. Namibia needs to develop a comprehensive system of innovation that would bring all key players together, from the knowledge generators and the uses. Bringing, the state, academia, and industry together would overcome the innovation chasm thus resulting in strengthening of the link in the innovation chain, from ‘blue sky’ research to commercialization as well as the removal of bottlenecks which stop ideas from reaching the market. These include lack of finance, fragmented research systems and markets, under-use of public procurement for innovation and slow standard setting.
Section 19 of the Research, Science and Technology, 2004, mandates the Commission to establish one or more councils in the research, science and technology sector, from time to time in the prescribed manner and after consultation with the Minister. The Councils shall to perform such functions under the supervision of the Commission as prescribed and as may be assigned to it by the Commission. The establishment of the following councils is currently being finalized.
To commence with the functions of the Biosafety Council as specified under Section 15 of the Biosafety Act (Act 7 of 2006), the Commission on Research, Science and Technology has invited nominations to serve on the Biosafety Council as provided by Section 5 of the Biosafety Act and Section 19 (1) of the Research, Science and Technology Act (Act no 23 of 2004). The Council consists of persons in the following subject areas as specified in Section 6 of the Biosafety Act:
- Environmental issues, including environmental assessment;
- Public health issues, including food hygiene and food safety;
- Animal health and welfare or other related agricultural issues;
- Molecular biology;
- Research, science and technology; and
- Trade and economy.