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Project: Addressing Social Challenges of Biotechnology in Africa. Towards balanced Innovation

It is suggested that biotechnology, especially crop biotechnology, may contribute to food security, socio-economic, health and environmental goals. However, we also see resistance against the use of biotechnology because of presumed risks, socio-economic consequences and ethical concerns. As a result we find a strong emphasis on the development of regulation and biosafety frameworks for the introduction biotechnology. Most western countries have developed extensive regulatory frameworks, regulatory research traditions, and civil society structures for this. However, developing counties often lack behind in realizing such institutions.  

The project 'Addressing Social Challenges of Biotechnology in Africa. Towards balanced Innovation' (SOCBIOAFRI) aims to contribute to African’s capacity to deal with rise of biotechnology. It especially aims to contribute to smallholder's perspectives and positions by assessing socio-economic and environmental issues and conditions of biotechnology in the African context.

The project takes up the key challenge that introducing biosafety frameworks into Africa requires the active engagement of the public, the development of educational and training facilities, and regional private-public cooperation and partnerships. It also builds on the fact that EU countries and most African countries have ratified the Cartagena protocol, which includes the ‘precautionary principle’ for the introduction of biotechnology.

In the project 6 partners from Kenya, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Belgian, and the Netherlands, cooperate. The project was granted by the ERAfrica program ( ) and resulted from a proposal that was developed within the Dutch work group STINGS (see As part of the ERAfrica program the funding comes from African and European countries in a more or less equal share and all partner projects are autonomous and approved by their national funding parties. Project leader is the University of Groningen and the Dutch part falls under the administration of NWO and focuses especially on integrating innovation and development models and on governance and regulation frameworks with respect to biotechnology in Africa.

Contact information:
dr. J.A.A. (Sjaak) Swart
Science and Society Group
University of Groningen

Last modified:15 April 2019 4.39 p.m.