Data Transportability for COMESA Workshop

    February 12, 2020-February 13, 2020
    9:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Protea Hotel
    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.




Day 1 - February 12, 2020

Session 1: Introduction

Session Chair – Kenya – Prof. Dorington Ogoyi

Welcoming Remarks
National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)

Introduction to Meeting and Discussion of Meeting Goals
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

History of Regional Cooperation and COMESA Risk Assessment Policy

Session 2: Concepts in Environmental Risk Assessment

The Global Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) Paradigm
Dr. Andrew Roberts, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute
Common elements in approaches taken for ERA for GE plants.

Confined Field Trials (CFTs)
Dr. Rachel Melnick, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute
Types of data collected in CFTs, criteria for selecting sites, updates on local CFTs in progress.

Question and Answer Period

Session 3: Online Tool for Obtaining CFT Data

Session Chair – Malawi

Practical Exercise of the Online Data Transportability Tool
Dr. Rachel Melnick, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute
Demonstration of the features of the online tool for identifying agroclimate zones for CFT locations in COMESA countries.

Breakout Groups

Discussion about the Practical Exercises
Dr. Andrew Roberts & Dr. Rachel Melnick
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute

Identification of Agroclimatic Zones Relevant to In-Country CFTs and an Online Tool for Identification of Surrogate Environments for Obtaining CFT Data
Dr. Andrew Roberts, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute
Application of the GEnS system for identifying agroclimate zones and a web-based software tool for assigning CFT locations to agroclimate zones.

Session 4: Concepts in Data Transportability

The Regulatory Context for GE Plant Approvals in COMESA Countries
Dr. Margaret Karembu, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)
What does data transportability mean for COMESA

Current Status of Risk Assessment and Regulation for GE Crops
Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia
Presentations by participating countries ~ 10 minutes each

Wrap Up and Preparation for Day 2

Day 2 - February 13, 2020

Session 5: Data Transportability Application to Regional Risk Assessment Process

Session Chair – Uganda

Dr. Francis Nang’ayo, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)

Review of Day 1
Dr. Andrew Roberts, Agriculture & Food Systems Institute
Challenges and opportunities for sharing data between COMESA countries.

Updates from ASARECA on the Implementation of Regional Risk Assessment Policy

Group Discussion

Session 6: ASARECA/COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy

Session Chair – Zambia

Facilitated Discussion: Application of Data Transportability Concepts to the COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy

Facilitated Discussion: Application of Data Transportability Concepts to the COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy – Essential Competencies