Tag Archive: East Africa

Synthetic Biology in Africa: Recent Developments

By Gareth Jones and Mariam Mayet

The focus of this paper is the emerging field of synthetic biology, in particular its implications for the African continent. Synthetic biology combines a number of scientific disciplines and is generally understood to involve the deliberate design of biological systems, using standardised components that have been created in a laboratory. It has been hailed as the key to a new post-oil global economy of abundance for all. In public, this rhetoric has been backed up by high profile research into the creation of synthetic artemisinin, a vital anti-malarial drug. However, behind the headlines the oil and military defence industries see synthetic biology as the perfect vehicle for the continuation of their power and accumulation under the guise of fighting climate change.

The potential for the technology in the global fight against Malaria is considerable, as are the potential impacts of synthetic artemisinin on the cultivation of Artemisia (the plant that contains the vital natural ingredient) in East Africa, where a fledgling industry supporting thousands of small holder farmers is developing.

South Africa was initially heavily involved in synthetic artemisinin and there are currently plans for the development of a national synthetic biology strategy in

Kenya – GMO Legislation

Draft_GMO_Bill_Kenya.pdf A Bill For An Act Of Parliament To Regulate Biotechnology And Biosafety Matters And For Connected Purposes.
Sep 2003

The ACB has been requested by a network of NGOs and other civil society groups in Kenya, to analyse and critically comment on the latest draft of the Kenyan Biosafety Bill (“the Bill”).

1. In general, the Bill does not in its present form represent an adequate, robust and comprehensive biosafety regime designed to protect the environment, human health and biodiversity from the risks posed by GMOs and its related activities. It is foremost, a piece of draft legislation that seeks to put in place, a mere permitting system designed to approve applications for the contained use; import; export, placing on the market and release into the environment of GMOs. The underlying imperative of the Bill is the promotion of genetic engineering and not biosafety.

2. The Bill has partially, selectively and numerous instances, erroneously (intentionally?) attempted to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol) in order to weaken its implementation. Critically important provisions of the Biosafety Protocol that form the cornerstones of biosafety regulation have been omitted from the Bill in its entirely. These include the Precautionary