The Southern African Network of GM Detection Laboratories
RAEIN-Africa and its partners identified among others, the need to build capacity in GMO detection (both human and infrastructure) in the SADC region. Genetic Modification (GM) detection plays an important role in ensuring GM traceability and segregation, and monitoring and surveillance, ensuring compliance with national regulations at all levels; thus supporting countries to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
RAEIN Africa implemented the SANGL project between 2009 and 2013 with the objective of establishing a functional regional network for GM detection laboratories in the SADC region.
The specific objectives of SANGL are:
- To build and strengthen human and infrastructural capacities for GMO detection in southern Africa
- To establish guidelines and harmonised methods for sampling and GMO detection in southern Africa, based on internationally accepted approaches
- To achieve international recognition (accreditation) in GM detection in all member laboratories
- To establish linkages and partnerships with other international GMO detection laboratories and networks as well as other institutions and
- To establish an interactive communication platform for GMO detection laboratories
Laboratories participating in SANGL were endorsed by their national competence authorities as laboratories that are used or could be used by the authorities in carrying out their mandate. At the time of establishment, the Network comprised 17 laboratories from 9 SADC countries, endorsed by the Biosafety Competent Authorities in each the country:- Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe (see launch proceedings). The Network has since grown to 24 laboratories with the participation of labs in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho and Madagascar. The Network envisages establishing new partnerships with other strategic organisations such as funding organisations, other laboratories and laboratory networks, standards setting bodies, as well as other local/ international bodies and institutions to ensure sustainability. The support from National Governments is highly appreciated.
A Training of Trainers workshop in GMO Detection
A Training of Trainers workshop on GMO Detection at the University of Free State, 27-30 September 2010: The GMO Training of Trainers Workshop was held with the aim of training participants on a range of techniques required for detection of Genetically Modified Organisms including sampling techniques and qualitative and quantitative GMO detection (see proceeding).
SANGL planning meeting
A planning meeting was held in August 2011, in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the meeting, a detailed plan of activities was developed. The meeting was also important in identifying national and regional issues that require attention in meeting the SANGL objectives. On the basis of the identified issues at both national and regional level, RAEIN-Africa has been working on raising additional resources required by the Network to fully address the issues.
A proficiency trial was conducted amongst laboratories that have benefited from GM detection skills training under the Network. The exercise was led by the GMO Testing Facility of the Free State University and coordinated by RAEIN-Africa. Nine laboratories from seven SADC countries i.e. Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the proficiency test trial. The test results showed that the level of competence in the lab methods used was satisfactory, although gaps still remained.
Networking and Support
SANGL coordinators have, over the years, provided technical support and advise to network laboratories.
Creating a Database of Regional Experts
RAEIN-Africa has been working on putting together a regional database of experts from which member countries can tap into for technical expertise