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Objective

New technologies have the promise to transform agricultural productivity and nutrition. However, many governments lack the risk assessment resources and experience needed to assure decision-makers and the public that environmental and food safety concerns posed by products of these technologies have been adequately addressed. The ILSI Research Foundation is developing risk assessment resources and providing training to scientists, risk assessors, and regulators, to promote science-based risk assessments of products of biotechnology.

Collaborators & Partners

US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and governmental ministries and departments in India and Bangladesh.

Current Programs

The ILSI Research Foundation's active programs related to biosafety capacity building include:

South Asia Biosafety Program

Managed by the ILSI Research Foundation, SABP assists India and Bangladesh in further strengthening institutional governance of biotechnology.

eLearning

Self-paced and interactive courses developed by the ILSI Research Foundation serve as supplemental training resources to in-person workshops.

Past Work

The ILSI Research Foundation's concluded projects in the area of biosafety capacity building include:

Resources

Newsletters

Find out about the work being done through the South Asia Biosafety Program by reading our monthly newsletter.

eLearning

The ILSI Research Foundation has developed eLearning courses that focus on biosafety.

Data Transportability for COMESA Workshop

Entebbe, Uganda

Hosted by the ILSI Research Foundation, in partnership with COMESA and ASARECA, this workshop introduced the online GEnZ Explorer tool, which allows confined field trial (CFT) locations to be characterized with respect to agroclimatic zones to facilitate data transportability of CFTs.

Read more

4th International Conference on Biotechnology in Health and Agriculture

Dhaka, Bangladesh

The ILSI Research Foundation’s South Asia Biosafety Program sponsored a technical session on Biosafety and the Environment at the 4th International Conference of Biotechnology on Health and Agriculture, which was organized jointly by the Global Network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists and Innovation in Plant and Food Sciences.

Read more

7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference (SABC2019)

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Under the auspices of the South Asia Biosafety Program, the ILSI Research Foundation and Biotech Consortium India Limited organized the 7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference (SABC 2019), the premier biosafety meeting in South Asia.

Read more

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									Overview			
					
				Overview
							

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 ILSI Research Foundation 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 received 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 also provided updates on the regulatory systems and approval process from COMESA countries. The second day of the workshop included discussions, facilitated by ASARECA, on how data transportability concepts and the GEnZ Explorer can be applied to the COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy.

Agenda

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Advancing from research to product development and eventual commercialization requires regulatory approval from designated national government agencies. However, information on how to navigate international and national regulatory frameworks is not widely shared among oversight review committees, principal investigators, senior scientists, post-docs, and other investigators. On November 19, 2019, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) organized a workshop in Baltimore, Maryland with the aim of providing a basic understanding of regulatory considerations and internationally recognized issues related to field trials of investigational genetically engineered organisms and their derived products, for applications in public health, agriculture, and protection to the environment. This workshop was designed for those who have limited experience with regulatory processes within and external to the United States. During the workshop, regulatory sciences and decision-making processes that will help bridge the gap between conducting basic research and translating that research into product development were discussed.

As part of Session 3: Risk Assessment and Mitigation Tools, Dr. Andrew Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, was invited to conduct a guided problem formulation exercise with participants.

Social Media

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The ILSI Research Foundation's South Asia Biosafety (SABP) Program sponsored the technical session on Biosafety and the Environment at the 4th International Conference of Biotechnology on Health and Agriculture (4th IPFS-ICBHA 2019). Jointly organized by the Global Network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists (GNOBB) and Innovation in Plant and Food Sciences, the 4th IPFS-ICBHA 2019 took place at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, Dhaka University, on November 11-13, 2019. Convened every two years, the conference provides a platform for Bangladeshi biotechnologists from around the world to meet and exchange thoughts, ideas, and experimental findings, as well as build capacity and create awareness about the latest trends in biotechnology. The three-day event included 22 sessions and concurrent workshops.

During the technical session on Biosafety and the Environment, Dr. Andrew Roberts, ILSI Research Foundation Deputy Executive Director, delivered a presentation about the context of biosafety for biotechnology researchers, and Dr. Aparna Islam, SABP Country Manager, discussed the regulatory system in Bangladesh.

More information about the conference is available on the GNOBB website.

Abstract Presentation: Biosafety for the Biotechnologist – Navigation Biosafety Requirements as a Researcher
Dr. Andrew F. Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, ILSI Research Foundation

It has been nearly 50 years since the first use of recombinant DNA technology to modify the genome of a bacterium. Since then, the use of recombinant DNA organisms, together with a suite of other biotechnologies, has changed the face of biological and medical research. However, as biotechnology has moved from the laboratory into practical application, an array of political, social and regulatory issues have emerged which can confound research and development of recombinant DNA organisms. This presentation will review the history and context for biosafety regulation of recombinant DNA organisms and provide some insight into how a modern biotechnology researcher can effectively navigate biosafety regulatory requirements in pursuit of their research and the development of recombinant DNA organisms for use in food or the environment.

Photos

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Dr. Morven McLean, ILSI Research Foundation Executive Director, delivered a presentation on Environmental Risk Assessment of Gene Edited Plants at the Symposium on Risk Assessment and Regulation of Genome Edited Plants, which took place on October 8-9, 2019 in Manila, the Philippines. The symposium was convened by the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, Government of the Philippines to provide an opportunity for Filipino scientists, risk assessors, and regulators to learn about the science of gene editing, as well as how risk assessment and regulation of products of new plant breeding techniques are being considered in key countries, such as Australia, Germany, Japan, and the United States. The two-day symposium concluded with a discussion about considerations for the regulation of genome edited plants in the Philippines

Agenda and Presentations

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Infogram

Hover and then click on the three dots at the top right hand corner of the infographic for more options. Click here to access a larger version.

Overview Overview

7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference - Conference Book

Download the conference book here!

Under the auspices of the South Asia Biosafety Program, the ILSI Research Foundation and Biotech Consortium India Limited organized the 7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference on September 14-16, 2019 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This annual conference is the premier biosafety meeting in South Asia and provides an essential forum to hear from leading scientists representing regulatory agencies, public sector research institutions, and the private sector in South Asia and internationally.

 

Presentations

Media Coverage

Below is a selection of media coverage related to the 7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference:

"Bangladesh committed to ensuring bio-safety: Razzaque." Daily Bangladesh Post, September 14, 2019. https://www.bangladeshpost.net/posts/bangladesh-committed-to-ensuring-bio-safety-razzaque-11949 (accessed September 18, 2019)

"Dhaka committed to ensure bio-safety: Minister." Green Watch, September 14, 2019. https://greenwatchbd.com/dhaka-committed-to-ensure-bio-safety-minister/ (accessed September 18, 2019).

"The Government is Working to Control 'Army Worm': Minister of Agriculture" (translated). Barta24, September 14, 2019.  http://bit.ly/2lVcgGQ (accessed September 18, 2019).

"7th Annual Conference on South-Asia Bio-safety." The Daily Sun, September 14, 2019. https://daily-sun.com/post/423488/2019/09/15/7th-annual-conference-on-SouthAsia-Biosafety (accessed September 18, 2019)

"7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference Begins at Dhaka." Agrinews24, Setpember 14, 2019. http://www.agrinews24.com/7th-annual-south-asia-biosafety-conference-begins-at-dhaka/ (accessed September 14, 2019).

"7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference Begins in Dhaka." Agricare24, September 14, 2019. https://agricare24.com/7th-annual-south-asia/ (English) http://bit.ly/2kHHlxx (Bangla) (accessed September 18, 2019).

"Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque speaking at the inaugural function of '7th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference' at a city hotel on Saturday." The News Today, September 15, 2019. http://www.newstoday.com.bd/?option=details&news_id=2542282&date=2019-09-15 (accessed September 18, 2019).

"'BD committed to ensure bio-safety.'" The New Nation, September 17, 2019. http://m.thedailynewnation.com/news/229263/bd-committed-to-ensure-bio-safety (accessed September 18, 2019).

"B'desh committed to ensuring bio-safety, says Razzaque." The Financial Express, September 15, 2019. https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/metro-news/bdesh-committed-to-ensuring-bio-safety-says-razzaque-1568476727 (accessed September 18, 2019)

"‘Committed to ensuring biosafety,’ Says agriculture minister." The Daily Star, September 15, 2019. https://www.thedailystar.net/city/news/were-committed-ensure-biosafety-1800073 (accessed September 18, 2019).

Social Media

Revisit the Conversation!

Conference attendees mentioned @ILSIRF and tweeted using #SABC2019 throughout the event. Below is a selection of the social media activity.

SABC 2019 - Curated tweets by ILSIRF

Photos

Poster Program

Presenting a poster at the South Asia Biosafety Conference was a noteworthy way to share expertise or accomplishment, and poster presenters had a dedicated time to present and discuss their work with the diverse group of attendees. All posters conveyed relevance to biosafety research, environmental or food safety assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or the regulation of GM plants, animals, arthropods, or micro-organisms.

Poster Competition

All posters accepted into the Poster Program were eligible for the Poster Competition. In cases where a registrant had two or more posters accepted for the Poster Program, s/he was asked to identify which one should be included in the poster competition, i.e., only one poster per registrant was eligible for the Poster Competition. The posters were judged on September 14-15, and the winners were announced on September 16, during the conference's Closing Session.

Prize Winners

  • Dr. Mohammad Mostofa placed first in the Poster Competition with the presentation Strigolactones Positively Regulate Defense Mechanisms to Enhance Resistance Against Sheath Blight of Rice (Oryza sativa), receiving a cash award of USD $300 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.
  • Dr. Dipali Gupta placed second in the Poster Competition with the presentation Biocontrol of Wheat Blast Disease by Plant Probiotic Bacilli, receiving a cash award of USD $200 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

Evaluation and Judging

The criteria for evaluating the posters during SABC 2019 were as follows:

Abstract (10%) - Clarity and correlation with poster.

Scientific Content (70%) - Introduction and background with literature cited, objectives, materials and methods, results and discussion, and significance to the field. The quality of the research presented was judged on its scientific rigor and significance as conveyed by the poster. Each poster needed to have been self-explanatory. Judges had the opportunity to discuss posters with the presenters, but this was not considered in the evaluation of the display.

Poster Display (20%) - Posters were judged on organization, effective use of space, legibility, grammar and spelling, and effective use of graphics.

Each poster display was judged independently by three judges on September 14-15, 2019 based on the abstract, scientific content, and poster display. Judges were encouraged to provide constructive comments for each poster. However, comments may have been very brief or absent because of the limited time available. Winners were announced on September 16.

Layout and Design

The maximum dimensions for the poster was 48 inches/122 cm (height) x 36 inches/91 cm (width). Poster boards were a plywood surface that permitted the use of removable double-sided tape, tacks, or board pins.

The following suggestions were made by conference organizers with the aim of ensuring the readability and quality of posters:

  • Check for proper spelling and grammar.
  • Use a standard typeface font.
  • Ensure text is clear and concise.
  • Important information should be readable from about 10 feet away.
  • Use bullets, numbering, and headlines to make it easy to read.
  • Include tables, figures, graphs, and color to enforce key points.
  • Standard abbreviations may be used without definition, but nonstandard abbreviations/acronyms should be placed in parentheses after the first use of the terminology. It is important to keep nonstandard abbreviations/acronyms to a minimum, to allow for readability and understanding.
  • Have a consistent and clean layout.
  • Include any appropriate acknowledgments, your name, and institutional affiliation.

Assigned Spaces

Each accepted poster was assigned a numbered space for where they should be posted in the conference hall. Posters were added to their assigned space on Saturday, September 14, 2019 prior to the beginning of the Poster Program. Posters remained in their assigned space until Monday, September 16, 2019, after the closing session, to ensure that attendees and judges had adequate time to view the posters.

Lightning Round

The Lightning Round was a unique opportunity for students and early career researchers to share their research in an oral presentation format that is exciting, challenging, and entertaining. All presentations had to convey relevance to biosafety research, environmental or food safety assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or the regulation of GM plants, animals, arthropods, or micro-organisms. Each participant was given 5 minutes and 5 slides to clearly present their work, challenging them to think carefully about how best to use the allotted time and visual aids. The presentations were scored by the session's Chair and Co-Chair, and prizes were awarded to the top two participants.

Prize Winners

  • Mr. Abdullah Al Noman placed first in the Lightning Round for Students and Early Career Researchers with the presentation Morphological and Molecular Diversity Among the Pyricularia oryzae Cavara Isolates Causing Wheat Blast in Bangladesh, receiving a cash award of USD $300.
  • Mr. Mohammad Umer Sharif Shohan placed second in the Lightning Round for Students and Early Career Researchers with the presentation Are Root Characteristics/Architectural Traits of Rice Plants a Better Indicator of Salt Tolerance, receiving a cash award of USD $200 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

Sponsors

SABC 2019 is organized by

with support from

   
 
   

 

Congratulations to 1st Place Lightning Round Winner, Mr. Abdullah Al Noman!

Congratulations to Mr. Abdullah Al Noman for placing first in the Lightning Round for Students and Early Career Researchers with the presentation Morphological and Molecular Diversity Among the Pyricularia oryzae Cavara Isolates Causing Wheat Blast in Bangladesh. Mr. Al Noman received a cash award of USD $300 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

Congratulations to 1st Place Poster Session Winner, Dr. Mohammad Mostofa!

Congratulations to Dr. Mohammad Mostofa for placing first in the Poster Competition with the presentation Strigolactones Positively Regulate Defense Mechanisms to Enhance Resistance Against Sheath Blight of Rice (Oryza sativa). Dr. Mostofa received a cash award of USD $300 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

Congratulations to 2nd Place Lightning Round Winner, Mr. Mohammad Umer Sharif Shohan!

Congratulations to Mr. Mohammad Umer Sharif Shohan for placing second in the Lightning Round for Students and Early Career Researchers with the presentation Are Root Characteristics/Architectural Traits of Rice Plants a Better Indicator of Salt Tolerance? Mr. Shohan received a cash award of USD $200 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

Congratulations to 2nd Place Poster Session Winner, Dr. Dipali Gupta!

Congratulations to Dr. Dipali Gupta for placing second in the Poster Competition with the presentation Biocontrol of Wheat Blast Disease by Plant Probiotic Bacilli. Dr. Gupta received a cash award of USD $200 and a one-year membership to the International Society for Biosafety Research.

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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 ILSI Research Foundation 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 received 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 also provided updates on the regulatory systems and approval process from COMESA countries. The second day of the workshop included discussions, facilitated by ASARECA, on how data transportability concepts and the GEnZ Explorer can be applied to the COMESA Regional Risk Assessment Policy.

Agenda

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OECD Consensus Document of the Biology of Mosquito Aedes aegypti

Volume 8 of the series Safety Assessment of Transgenic Organisms in the Environment contains the first OECD biosafety consensus document to deal with the biology of an insect, the mosquito Aedes aegypti.

Read more

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