Data Transportability for COMESA Workshop

    February 12, 2020-February 13, 2020
    9:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Entebbe, Uganda


Confined field trials (CFTs) are conducted to determine whether a trait introduced through genetic engineering (GE) of a plant results in unintended environmental effects. CFTs are historically performed locally within each country that is considering cultivation of the GE plant, and data from CFTs is used to inform an environmental risk assessment used for regulatory decision-making. As all CFTs are designed to compare the GE crop to its non-GE comparator, data collected on the same traits from CFTs in new countries generally duplicate previous studies and do not further inform risk assessment.  One way to reduce the duplication of CFTs is to use pre-existing CFT data obtained from an environment similar to that of the host country.

The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute hosted the Data Transportability for COMESA Workshop in Entebbe, Uganda on February 12-13, 2020, in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), to discuss the online GEnZ Explorer tool. This free tool allows CFT locations to be characterized with respect to agroclimatic zone to facilitate data transportability of CFTs. Participants will receive hands-on experience with the tool to identify the location of CFT data generated outside of their country that were conducted in similar environments to those found in their country. Participants will also provide updates on the regulatory systems and approval process from COMESA countries. The second day of the workshop will include discussions, facilitated by ASARECA, on how data transportability concepts and the GEnZ Explorer can be applied to the COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy.


9:00 am

Welcoming Remarks

National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)

9:15 am

Introduction to Meeting and Discussion of Meeting Goals

Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

9:30 am

History of Regional Cooperation and COMESA Risk Assessment Policy


10:00 am

Tea Break

10:30 am

The Global Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) Paradigm Common elements in approaches taken for ERA for GE plants.

Dr. Andrew Roberts
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

11:00 am

Confined Field Trials (CFTs) Types of data collected in CFTs, criteria for selecting sites, updates on local CFTs in progress.

Dr. Rachel Melnick
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

12:00 pm

Question and Answer Period

12:30 pm

Lunch Break

1:30 pm

Practical Exercise of the Online Data Transportability Tool Demonstration of the features of the online tool for identifying agroclimate zones for CFT locations in COMESA countries.

Dr. Rachel Melnick
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

Breakout Groups
(requiring PC and internet)

2:45 pm

Discussion about the Practical Exercises

Dr. Andrew Roberts & Dr. Rachel Melnick
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

3:00 pm

Identification of Agroclimatic Zones Relevant to In-Country CFTs and an Online Tool for Identification of Surrogate Environments for Obtaining CFT Data Application of the GEnS system for identifying agroclimate zones and a web-based software tool for assigning CFT locations to agroclimate zones.

Dr. Andrew Roberts
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

3:30 pm

Tea Break

4:00 pm

The Regulatory Context for GE Plant Approvals in COMESA Countries What does data transportability mean for COMESA

Dr. Margaret Karembu
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

4:30 pm

Current Status of Risk Assessment and Regulation for GE Crops Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia

Participating Countries
~10 minutes each

5:40 pm

Wrap Up and Preparation for Day 2

6:00 pm