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UFS receives R3,284 million to research biosafety of genetically modified crops
2009-03-17

A testing facility at the University of the Free State (UFS), which is the only one of its kind in South Africa and a leader in its field in Africa, has received a grant of R3,284 million from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to do research on the biosafety of genetically modified crops in South Africa.

Prof. Chris Viljoen of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Testing Facility at the UFS says the grant forms part of a collaborative agreement between South Africa and Norway on the biosafety of GMOs.

The grant also makes provision for two M.Sc. bursaries as well as a regional biosafety workshop.

The research will focus on gene flow between genetically modified (GM) maize and non-GM maize and the potential impact thereof on the development of insect resistance.

Prof. Viljoen, who is head of Human Molecular Biology in the Department of Haematology and Cell Biology, says it is an honour to be selected to take part in the project and is groundbreaking in terms of GM maize on the environment. The project was initiated in 2009 and will run until the end of 2010.

The multi-institutional research include partners from the UFS, research groups from the University of North-West, the University of Fort Hare as well as SANBI and GenØk, the Norwegian centre for Gene Ecology. The GMO Testing Facility at the UFS was established in 2003 to perform routine GM detection for grain and food products in South Africa. The activities also include research into GM detection and biosafety of GM crops.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
17 March 2009
 
 
Prof. Chris Viljoen of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Testing Facility at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

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