Basseterre, St. Kitts — Lab technicians and personnel in agriculture, environmental health and environment fields recently participated in a workshop aimed at developing the capacity of key personnel in St. Kitts and Nevis in the area of sampling and testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) products.
Dr. Marissa Moses, Consultant with Genetixs out of Trinidad and Tobago, is presently in the Federation facilitating the workshop. She said the training is important to build skill and capacity in the area of detection of genetically modified events.
“Your lab technicians will have the skill to be able to determine if a particular modification is present in the food or if it is not present,” said Dr. Moses, adding that each country should put measures in place to ensure that provisions are made to conduct regular testing. “I think it is in the interest of all countries to have that capability that they don’t have to depend on another country to do their testing. The testing is very simple; it is very robust so that is why I am very pleased to be here to give St. Kitts and Nevis assistance.”
Vicia Woods, Biosafety Officer in the Department of Environment, outlined the types of crops that were tested.
“Today, we targeted popcorn seeds and cracked corn, which is basically chick feed, and we chose to test these because grain is the common crop that is tested in GMO detection, and also because we import a lot of our corn and popcorn seeds from the United States which has a large percentage of corn being genetically modified,” said the biosafety officer.
Ms. Woods stated that the training is important to St. Kitts and Nevis as it will redound to the benefit of all.
“GMO testing is one of the safety measures that is employed against potential risk of bio-technology and genetically modified organisms. We felt that there was a need to perform GMO testing because in a way it would raise awareness to the public and therefore the public would be able to make informed decisions about the foods they consume,” she said.
Sylvester Belle, Chief Conservation Officer in the Department of Environment, shared similar sentiments where the positives of GMO testing are concerned, noting that “modern biotechnology has the potential to provide tremendous benefits in the areas of food and agricultural production, food security and health promotion”.
The training was done in collaboration with the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), where the testing was carried out. It forms part of a Regional Project for the Implementation of National Biosafety Framework in the Caribbean, and the SKNBS was registered on the Regional Network for GMO Detecting Labs.