Uganda banana

Uganda banana producer

Continuing our simple experiment in in a previous on the regulatory design puzzle, if we had submitted a study such as the one we did in Uganda (see Kikulwe et al 2011, and Kikulwe 2010), where we collected data  for 450 or so improved and traditional varieties using banana farmers and consumers. The question then becomes: Would this study have made a difference in a regulatory outcome?  Note that the Black Sigatoka resistant variety developed by NARO-Uganda/ABSPII and University of Leuven has been approved only for confined field trials.

The question then becomes, will the biosafety competent authority not approve a technology, because the results from the socio-economic study were not as good as other studies although still positive. Even more, the results from the Bt cotton simulation in the study in question, depended on the institutional setting that the cotton sector operates in those countries. In essence, indicating the fact that the estimated net present value from Bt cotton adoption in our study depended on issues that had nothing to do with the technology itself.

Should the regulatory agency then reject the technology based on these facts? Would the decision be that the technology can be approved ONLY when those institutional issues are resolved? Does the regulatory competent authority even have this mandate or ability to enforce this type of regulatory outcome or mandate?

This brings us to the final issue I wanted to put on the table.  In many decisions I have seen regarding the technical biosafety assessment, there is scope for risk mitigation. Then the implication should be that there should be equally an option for the mitigation of socio-economic impacts and/or risk. Will then competent authorities have the mandate to monitor and evaluate compliance with such socio-economic mitigation efforts? More issues to ponder…

In the end, what I am trying to do here is to set the stage for countries to start pondering on these issues, questions and potential scenarios that may occur if not enough thought is given to the implementation phase of biosafety regulatory process in practice. Here I am talking about the “nuts and bolts” of regulatory processes that inter phase with innovation, product development and technologies in the hands of farmers….


  1. Kikulwe, E.M., E. Birol, J. Wesseler, J. Falck-Zepeda. A latent class approach to investigating demand for genetically modified banana in Uganda Agricultural Economics. Publication Forthcoming 2011.
  2. Kikulwe, E.M. 2010.”On the introduction of genetically modified bananas in Uganda: Social benefits, costs, and consumer preferences” A published Ph.D. dissertation at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Thesis committee Prof. dr. E.C. van Ierland, Dr. J.H.H. Wesseler, Dr. J.B. Falck-Zepeda, Prof. dr. ir. A.G.J.M. Oude Lansink, Prof. dr. R.L. Paarlberg, Dr. M. Smale, Prof. E. Tollens.