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.

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