Training on DNA-based GMO detection for Seed Testing and Certification under PRIP

A training on DNA-based GMO detection for Seed Testing and Certification was organised for policy makers from Government of Nepal. Precisely, these delegates were from different departments like Seed Quality Control Centre (SQCC), Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) and Regional Seed Laboratory. IFPRI organised a 13-day (30th Nov to 12th Dec 2015) intensive training program for these officials under Policy Reform Initiatives Project (PRIP). The training was conducted in Indian Council of Agricultural Research - National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBPGR). The delegates had an opportunity to understand the concepts of GMO detection. They were given hands-on training on real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), DNA extraction, TaqMan real time PCR method, and other detection methods. Renowned experts, researchers, and policy makers deliberated on GMO detection, biosafety issues of GM crops, and IPR issues in this training.

Besides NBPGR, the delegates also visited different laboratories and institutions pertinent to the GMO detection. The delegates visited and interacted with the scientists of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi, the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) in New Delhi, the Department of Plant Molecular Biology on the South Campus of the University of Delhi, Tilda Hain India Private Limited in Gurgaon, Basmati Export Development foundation (BEDF) in Meerut, and NBPGR various divisions like National Gene Bank and Cryobank, Plant Quarantine Division National Containment Facility, Division of Genomic Resources. During their interaction, the delegates were also granted an opportunity to see latest equipment related to DNA-based GMO detection. They also saw various varieties of Basmati Rice and at the end of the training they were in better position to differentiate between GM rice and Non-GM rice. Furthermore, in practical sessions, expert’s talks and panel discussion, the delegates were shown how to understand the integrities of plant genetic resource management, and exposed to GMO detection, DNA extraction, designing of primer, bio-safety regulatory regimes, and Visual Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assays for GM detection.

In most of the countries, genetically modified organisms (GMO) legislation has been established in order to guarantee the traceability of food / feed products on the market and to protect the consumer freedom of choice. Therefore, several GMO detection strategies, mainly based on DNA, have been developed to implement these legislations. For example, Nepal is in an early stage in hybrid research and development; however, demand is increasing over time. National legislative mechanisms human resources and physical facilities are not well established in testing and regulation of GMOs in Nepal. Thus, it is necessary to encourage policy makers to strengthen their commitment and provide strong policy and financial support to promote hybrid research and development in Nepal. This training should serve this purpose by helping the policy makers and officers of the Government of Nepal to implement best practices and bring reforms into the regulation of GMOs.

Assessing Capacity Building Impacts

NAIP and IFPRI Brainstorming Session
Stakeholders discussing the impacts of NAIP capacity building programs. Source: IFPRI

Developing an individual’s technical and management skills benefits more than just research output; it can positively affect future research programs, the individual’s personal growth, and the capacity of the organization they work for while having positive spillover effects on other team members. Yet despite promising outcomes from capacity strengthening programs, studies quantifying the impacts of such programs remain few. In order to identify cost and benefit indicators of capacity strengthening programs, and to work towards the goal of monitoring and tracking these benefits, a one day brain storming session, Methodologies to Assess Impact of Capacity Building Program under NAIP,was organized by the National Agriculture Innovation Program (NAIP) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on 21 February, 2013 in New Delhi, India.

In the past decade the Indian Council Agriculture Research (ICAR) and the State Agriculture Universities (SAU), have invested in scaling up and improving researchers’ capacity through NAIP.  More than 350 researchers have obtained additional skills through overseas collaboration and visits. Now, to develop methodologies, indicators and measurement approaches that can assess the impact of capacity building, the brainstorming session was held and attended by researchers who have led or participated in ICAR and SAU NAIP trainings. Suresh Babu, Senior Researcher, IFPRI, explained how the analytical framework of capacity strengthening in agriculture and policy research can impact process.  P.K. Joshi, Director for South Asia, IFPRI, mentioned that the one year project will trace the inputs and investments in NAIP’s capacity strengthening to identify and categorize outputs by the type of research skills developed, the quality and quantity of research products, and improved productivity. The project will also identify and document technological innovations, collaborative research, and new networks that were developed as a result of researchers’ increased capacity after training.

Subscribe to our newsletter