African Lawyers’ Roundtable on Biotechnology Law

New Partnership for Africa’s Development

July 29 – 30, 2015

Laura van der Meer prepared and led a two day roundtable of 15 lawyers from seven African countries with responsibility for national legislation governing the safe use of biotechnology in laboratories, field trials and commercial products. The Roundtable took place in Accra and brought together lawyers from justice, environment, and science & technology ministries in Ghana,  Kenya, Togo, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda, as well as a judicial magistrate from Burkina Faso, and a senior Ghanese private practioner whose firm currently is defending in court a government permit for field trials of GM cotton in northern Ghana  in a challenge brought by an anti-GMO organization. The Roundtable sought to sharpen legal drafting skills of the fifteen lawyers in the complex field of biosafety, requiring both scientific and legal knowledge, predicate to a workshop later this year in which the fifteen African lawyers will train another 25 lawyers from countries across the continent. The Roundtable was hosted by the African Biosafety Network of Experience (ABNE) division of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), established by the African Union in 2001 as a mechanism for sustainable economic growth in Africa, and Michigan State University’s World Technology Access Program (World TAP), which is supported by the Gates Foundation.