Training on ‘National BCH and other biosafety information repository tools’ was held in Paro from 3-5 March 2020. The training was organized by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, with financial and technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) involving BCH expert Prof. Ruel V Maningas. The training was attended by forty four officials from BAFRA field offices, Biosafety Technical Working Group and participants from National Environment Commission, Food Corporation of Bhutan, Karma Feed and National Seed Centre.
Bhutan ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) in 2002. CPB emphasizes on the need to establish national Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) as an information exchange platform. BAFRA being the national competent authority to implement Biosafety Act of Bhutan 2015 and BCH Focal Point, initiated the revamping of Bhutan BCH and it was successfully launched on 4th March 2020. The revamping and training was carried out with financial and technical support of FAO involving BCH expert Prof. Ruel V Maningas. The main objective to revamp Bhutan BCH was to engage biosafety regulators, academia and food importers for exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on living modified organisms (LMOs) and to make the tool more user-friendly. The updated Bhutan BCH (bt.biosafetyclearinghouse.net) includes new features for registering information, forums for online discussion, updated biosafety news and biosafety information repositories, such as BCH, Asia BCH, FAO-GM Foods Platform, OECD Biotrack database etc.
The objectives of the training were to enable participants to:
1. obtain information and access to global biosafety information repositories such as BCH, FAO GM Foods platform and OECD BioTrack tool
2. be able to find/locate/access relevant information in the context of Bhutan, using global biosafety information repositories
3. obtain step-by-step instructions on how to register and access national information on the national BCH tool and BCH central portal