If rules and standards for socio-economic considerations inclusion in technology and/or  biosafety decision making are not clear, are open ended or subject to too many interpretations, such inclusion may lead to an unworkable system. A system in which no decision is possible or is highly likely to reject most applications as there is no clear pathway to satisfy an ill-defined -or undefined- standard, can be defined as an unworkable.

The later is not a desirable regulatory outcome as well done socio-economic assessments in developed and developing countries have shown that there may be gains possible for resource poor farmers from the adoption of GM biotechnologies. The likelihood that resource poor farmers can gain from the adoption of GM biotechnologies, is likely to be higher with those technologies developed by the public sector especially those technologies of a public good nature, designed with resource poor farmers in mind. As several reviews have shown, there are many public sector technologies, developed by the public sector in developing countries, who have not reached farmers, maybe  in part due to biosafety regulations (see Atanassov et al, 2004; Sithole-Niang, et al. 2004)

In most situations, the best alternative is to have rules and standards for implementation and decision making in implementing regulations. This is extremely important as the need may arise of changing procedures later on as the regulatory system gains experience and familiarity with products in the regulatory pipeline. Having an unworkable system, or one that cannot render a decision in a timely, cost efficient manner and whose decision is robust, protective and accepted by society; is not a desirable outcome and is a questionable use of scarce societal resources.


  1. “Atanassov, A., A. Bahieldin, J. Brink, M. Burachik, J. I. Cohen, V. Dhawan, R. V. Ebora, J. Falck-Zepeda, L. Herrera-Estrella, J. Komen, F. C. Low, E. Omaliko, B. Odhiambo, H. Quemada, Y. Peng, M. J. Sampaio, I. Sithole-Niang, A. Sittenfeld, M. Smale, Sutrisno, R. Valyasevi, Y. Zafar, and P. Zambrano. To Reach The Poor: Results from the ISNAR-IFPRI Next Harvest Study on Genetically Modified Crops, Public Research, and Policy Implications.” 2004. EPTD Discussion Paper 116. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute
  2. Sithole-Niang, Idah; Cohen, Joel I.; Zambrano, Patricia. “Putting GM technologies to work : Public research pipelines in selected African countries.2004.  African Journal of Biotechnology 3(11): 564-571.http://www.academicjournals.org/ajb/PDF/Pdf2004/Nov/Sithole-Niang%20et%20al.pdf