Challenges and experiences in establishing and maintaining inter-agency communication on biosafety-related issues
In Lesotho, the Biosafety Bill 2014 has been drafted and is waiting to be approved by the Parliament. Upon enactment it is going to be called the Biosafety Act 2014. The Act provides the establishment of the National Biosafety Council composed of the Director Environment as the chairperson of the council. Its members will be drawn from the representatives from the: Ministry responsible for agriculture, Ministry responsible for health, Ministry responsible for trade, Ministry responsible for science and technology; representative from Non Governmental Organization and a representative from tertiary institutions. The function of the council is to deal with all issues related to issuing and suspending of permits as well as to develop strategies relating to the management of Genetically Modified Organisms.
The Act further provides establishment of the Technical Advisory Committee to advise the council on matters relating to GMO’s as well as carrying out risk assessments of GMO’s. In the meantime before enactment of the Biosafety Act, the Government of Lesotho has established an interim technical review and advisory body called National Coordinating Committee. The committee is responsible to among others review applications to use biotechnology products or procedures and directly advises the Minister responsible for Environment on decision pertaining to applications, through the Director of Environment who is a member and the chair of the National Coordinating Committee.
The main challenge to the country is insufficient expertise in the field of biotechnology. Also the country does not have a laboratory for detection and identification of the Living Modified Organisms.
posted on 2015-05-05 08:33 UTC by Mr. Mosiuoa Walter Bereng, Lesotho