Understanding Environmental Risk Assessment of GMOs in Africa-The Importance of Regulation and Monitoring
The environmental risk assessment is a critical regulatory process that has to be carried out before GMOs are released to the farmers and consumers. The fundamental question is- do transgenic or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) pose threat to the environments given all the hullabaloo about GMOs around the world. Against the backdrop of concerns regarding gene flow from GM crop traits, conventional crops have the same pollination characteristics
as GM crops, a fact that is often ignored whilst discussing GMOs issues. The risk assessment of GMOs is part of the regulatory process and is followed by risk management and monitoring. This is fundamental to environmental safety given limited understanding on their potential risk to the environment. Therefore it is important to evaluate and understand the levels of inquiry involved in scientific experiments and rigorous environmental risk assessment of GMOs.While environmental risk assessment is critical to the release of GMO products , only few African countries have sufficient capacity to undertake this assessment. And where capacity building initiatives have taken place many people doesn’t have the opportunity to practice what they have learnt due to lack of regulatory environment. South Africa has the most sophisticated facilities and comprehensive biosafety regulation of GMO products in Africa. South Africa has been growing GM crops for commercialization for over a decade. The only two GM Africa producing countries after South Africa are Burkina Faso and Egypt, although other countries have confined field trials.