Posted: July 3, 2020

Applications due August 17, 2020

A key strategic goal for the U.S. Government (USG) and of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to conduct international outreach and communication regarding the role and importance of science-based and risk proportionate decision-making for the adoption of existing and emerging agricultural biotechnologies as a tool for enabling innovation and helping address challenges to the sustainability of agriculture and global food security in the twenty-first century.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) seeks to partner with a U.S. land-grant university to carry out trainings and provide technical assistance for select Asian and African decision-makers, technical experts, and stakeholders focusing on informed strategies for enabling the science-based adoption of agricultural biotechnologies, including incorporating biotechnology into national and regional initiatives to modernize and strengthen seed systems for innovation.

The purpose of this program is threefold: 1) To enhance understanding of policymakers and stakeholders in the Philippines of the role of modern biotechnology in agricultural innovation, and how such biotechnological innovations can be adopted with appropriate science- and risk-based considerations; 2) To enhance the understanding of African country governments' policymakers and technical experts with responsibilities relevant to the African Union of the role of modern biotechnology in agricultural innovation, and how such biotechnological innovations can be adopted with appropriate science- and risk-based considerations, especially for seed production and trade; and 3) To identify and share ways in which biotechnological innovations can advance food security, and what trade policies in the Philippines and in the African Union may be needed to help ensure access by their farmers to such innovations.

Program Objectives and Priorities

The Program objectives are:

a) Deliver tailored trainings for select Asian and African officials, technical experts, and stakeholders on key considerations for enabling the science- and risk-based adoption of agricultural biotechnologies, to include applications in plants and animals.

b) Provide technical assistance to policymakers and regional stakeholders on successfully incorporating biotechnology and innovative breeding techniques into seed sector improvement initiatives, such as ensuring availability of high-quality seeds for small-scale producers. The land grant university will work with select developing country governments, regional organizations, and biotechnology stakeholder groups to support the successful deployment of agricultural biotechnology products. Work in this area may include consulting and technical assistance to incorporate biotechnology into seed system improvement initiatives; support for commercial or public sector research and development of genetically engineered or genome edited plants and/or animals; targeted outreach to key stakeholders in host governments; or other activities that enable adoption of agricultural biotechnology in Asia and Africa, in consultation with USDA/FAS.

c) Ensure information sharing and increased awareness among participants of different patterns of adoption of agricultural biotechnologies among countries/regions, and of differences with approaches to seed sectors, and their impacts.

d) Based on the input of the Asian and African participants, develop action plans for country/regional efforts moving forward on technical assistance activities, identifying key issues and gaps in needs and capacity building,

e) Develop science-based, risk proportionate regulatory approaches that further regional regulatory alignment and cooperation that facilitates deployment of agricultural innovation.

The trainings may take place on the campus of the university partner, in Asian and African partner countries, or virtually, over the period of the award (Fiscal Year 2021–2022). The trainings will be tailored to the needs and interests of the Asian and African audiences, reflecting the most recent knowledge and status of relevant policy and programmatic efforts and partnerships, and will include engagement by recognized U.S. and international technical and policy experts from a range of relevant disciples and fields (e.g., regulatory sciences, social scientists, legal experts, and experienced agricultural economic development practitioners). The trainings will address both country-specific issues and, where appropriate, regional collaboration, as well as general information sharing to provide all participants with a strong understanding of how different experiences and approaches to the adoption of emerging agricultural biotechnologies globally may be shaping varying results for improved outcomes for farmers, the environment, and other evidence and cost-benefit considerations.

The land grant university will collaborate with USDA/FAS in the design and implementation of the trainings (virtual and/or in person), in the selection of countries, regional bodies, and experts, and in identifying indicators and measures of success.


I. U.S Training:

1. An Executive Course on GM technologies and Precision Biotechnology for policymakers. This activity aims to encourage deeper understanding and appreciation for a science-and evidence-based policy framework conducive to the advancement of biotechnological innovations.

The activity is envisioned as a one-week executive course designed to educate participants on modern biotechnology, related national and international policies, biosafety regulation compliance, potential impacts of biotechnology policies and regulations, and socioeconomic considerations in decision making. The course shall include site visits to various state-of-the-art facilities for biotechnology to reinforce the participants' learning experience.

Target participants are policymakers and regulators from the Philippines (5 participants) and African Union (AU) countries (3 participants), either in separate or single training, which shall include an evaluation of participants' increase in knowledge from the training.

2. Short-term training on any or all of the following topics: a. risk analysis of GM animals for food; b. advanced training on risk analysis of GM crops, targeting senior technical officers and middle-level managers in five government agencies implementing the Philippine Joint Department Circular on regulations on modern biotech; c. advanced training on risk management and risk communication; d. Laboratory tours, and sharing of experiences on the use of gene editing tools CRISPR-Cas, ZFN, TALEN, and ODM) and other plant breeding innovation methods; e. new breeding techniques for Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) researchers to improve the breeding programs of Philippine Department of Agriculture f. Biotechnology tools for rapid and precise detection of pests, diseases, and food contaminants to improve regulatory services; and, g. Use of bioinformatic tools for genomics studies. Trainings shall include an evaluation of participants' increase in knowledge on topics listed above.

Target participants (5 participants) include personnel from Philippine DA agencies directly involved in risk analysis of GM products as well as DA Biotech Center researchers.

II. Regional Training for the African Union:

3. Conduct a Seed Biotechnology Regional Workshop in Ethiopia, for the African Union, for 10-15 participants.

See full solicitation here