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National Biosafety Framework to be compiled

by Florence Wickramage

The Environment and Natural Resources Ministry has initiated action to compile a National Biosafety Framework (NBF) for the conservation of biodiversity and for the effective use of the genetic engineering technology, Professor Athula Perera, the National Project Coordinator told the media recently.

He was addressing the media at an awareness workshop held at the National Science Foundation in Colombo on the National Biosafety Framework Development Project (NBFDP). The Project will involve the active participation of all stakeholders including Environmental Non-governmental organisations.

Professor Athula Perera said that although many advantages of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) have been recorded many risks and concerns too have been aired and discussed.

Professor Perera added that at present where there is much confusion regarding this matter, the establishment of the framework through identification of resources by extensive surveys and by conducting training and awareness programmes, all aspects of modern biotechnology could be brought under one roof. It will also enable the country to move forward, harnessing modern technology in a safe and responsible manner.

Perera further emphasised that the genetic engineering technology is not a barrier but an enabling mechanism, to move together with others into a new modern world.

Presentations at the workshop included "introduction to GMO/GMF: characters, genes, DNA, molecule, gene expression, vertical inheritance; production of GMOs/GMF with particular reference to plants and animals; risks and concerns; effect on biodiversity; ethics and morals with special reference to ownership of genes, gene piracy; and legal aspects and biosafety protocol.

Experts who addressed the workshop included Dr. Anil Jayasekera, Dr. Pradeepa Silva, Prof. G.S. Widanapathirana, Prof. Rohan Jayasekera, Dr. V.A. Sumanasinghe, Mr. Ajit Silva and Attorney-at-Law Jagath Gunawardena.

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