CAPACITY BUILDING

The development of a strong capability in the plant sciences is an absolute priority for all national research programs. This is necessary because only local plant breeding can address local agricultural environments and only local initiatives can appreciate cultural preferences. It is very likely that genes and gene functions will, as our understanding grows, be increasingly transferable between crops and between agricultural environments. However, in order for these genes to be incorporated into adapted, tested, safe and effective varieties, a sustained local research capacity will be necessary. This is equally true whether the genes are transferred by GM technology or by conventional breeding.

The international research centers (those under CGIAR sponsorship) and national research programs must use partnerships with advanced research institutions to increase their efforts to extend the new GM technologies to crops such as bananas, plantains, beans, sorghum, wheat, maize, cassava and potatoes, which are important resources for many countries. These centers should also take a lead in developing alliances with advanced and strategic research institutions, both public and private, in order to ensure the transfer of the appropriate technologies. In addition, the new communications technologies should be vigorously supported to facilitate the free exchange of knowledge and best practices among the world's agricultural research and farming communities.

If world agriculture, and developing countries in particular,



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TRANSGENIC PLANTS AND WORLD AGRICULTURE CAPACITY BUILDING The development of a strong capability in the plant sciences is an absolute priority for all national research programs. This is necessary because only local plant breeding can address local agricultural environments and only local initiatives can appreciate cultural preferences. It is very likely that genes and gene functions will, as our understanding grows, be increasingly transferable between crops and between agricultural environments. However, in order for these genes to be incorporated into adapted, tested, safe and effective varieties, a sustained local research capacity will be necessary. This is equally true whether the genes are transferred by GM technology or by conventional breeding. The international research centers (those under CGIAR sponsorship) and national research programs must use partnerships with advanced research institutions to increase their efforts to extend the new GM technologies to crops such as bananas, plantains, beans, sorghum, wheat, maize, cassava and potatoes, which are important resources for many countries. These centers should also take a lead in developing alliances with advanced and strategic research institutions, both public and private, in order to ensure the transfer of the appropriate technologies. In addition, the new communications technologies should be vigorously supported to facilitate the free exchange of knowledge and best practices among the world's agricultural research and farming communities. If world agriculture, and developing countries in particular,

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TRANSGENIC PLANTS AND WORLD AGRICULTURE are to benefit from the many potential advantages of GM technology, it will be important to promote capacity building in risk management. In order to be effective, the following objectives must be included: Build sufficient scientific and technical human resources in each country to enable it to assess the relative benefits and the risks of GM technology; Strengthen local and global infrastructure; Monitor and evaluate the short-, mid- and long-term effects of transgenic plants and share data between all relevant countries; Develop simple techniques to readily and reliably distinguish non-transgenic and transgenic plants where necessary. We recommend that: (i) national governments ensure that endogenous capacities are built up to facilitate the implementation of biosafety guidelines or regulations; (ii) the safe development, transfer and application of biotechnology require that nations develop and/or strengthen policies, facilities, information systems, and training in biotechnology (including risk-assessment, risk-management and biosafety procedures); (iii) nations involved in the development, use, release or production of transgenic plants should have the means to assess and manage the potential risks and the benefits; (iv) as considered in the recently agreed UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an overarching body should maintain and disseminate a public database that includes all newly released varieties and their performance in different environments.