We want to create a platform where scientists and other stakeholders can debate biotechnology for agriculture issues more openly and raise awareness among the people. The recent launch of the
Public attitudes towards biotechnology and biotechnology research are quite varied within
Launching the chapter, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Dr
Raising public awareness, she said, will pave way for the application of biotechnology to attain food and nutritional security goals outlined in the socio-economic blueprint Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
"Zim-Asset speaks to the need to achieve sustainable development and social equality anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation," she said.
She believes that the forum can help foster the right kind of supportive environment in the
"The platform provides a great opportunity to harness the power of agricultural biotechnology to drive change and create new collaborations that can provide solutions to food and nutrition security challenges facing the country," said Prof Sithole-Niang.
"We are excited about the launch and we are looking forward to engaging various stakeholders to promote the application of biotechnology in agriculture."
The UZ biochemist is optimistic that the launch of the chapter will move the agenda to promote biotechnology in the country and redouble agricultural production through providing innovative solutions.
"We need to apply biotechnology solutions to speed crop production," she said.
"Controversy surrounding the technology has prevented
"The GM crops still face gigantic public relations issues and it is my hope that stakeholders understanding of biotechnology will improve to help make decision-based on scientific facts and not fiction.
"We want to create a platform where scientists and other stakeholders can debate biotechnology for agriculture issues more openly and raise awareness among the people," he said.
"We are extremely proud to be launching such a high-profile initiative which underlines our commitment and desire to share expert knowledge with other professionals here in
"We feel very honoured to be hosting the
OFAB aims to provide a forum to raise the profile of biotechnology usage in agriculture noting its potential use in staple food crops as well as to improve the quality of information available to the media and policy makers on agricultural biotechnology benefits and risks.
The platform also aims to forge strategic alliances for creating synergy and optimisation of resources through encouraging inter-institutional networking and knowledge sharing in the agricultural biotechnology space.
"We want to contribute to informing policy decision making processes on matters of agricultural biotechnology through provision of factual, well researched and scientific information and participating in policy discussion," Dr Mufandaedza said.
OFAB also targets to improve communication across all sectors interested in biotechnology for African agriculture.
"Raising public awareness through such platforms reinforces the general public trust in science and technology,' he said. "This will provide a conducive environment for key stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences and explore new avenues of bringing the benefits of biotechnology to the Zimbabwean agricultural sector."
Africa Bio chief executive officer, Dr
"There is a communication gap in agricultural biotechnology and a proliferation of misconceptions," she said further. "We need to raise awareness and educate the public. Responsible biotechnology is not the enemy, but starvation is the enemy. We need to give our farmers choices that will help them address a plethora of problems they face by giving them agricultural tools and new breeding techniques."
African countries still show the least level of biotechnology development owing largely to the precautionary approach of governments in guiding the use of biotechnology in agriculture on the continent, researchers say.
Challenges which were identified as slowing down the adoption of biotechnology included inadequate funding and policy frameworks to support research in biotechnology, lack of clear policies on biotechnology to attract international partnerships and the protective approach of the regulatory frameworks in most countries.
For years advocates of agricultural biotechnology, notably genetically modified crops, have been at loggerheads with proponents of organic farming and other sustainable farming techniques.
Those against the new technology argue that the use of GMOs in agriculture could have potential negative effects on the environment and human health, as well as potential socio-economic effects on the livelihood of local communities.
The first OFAB was launched in
OFAB was initiated in response to the need to create better understanding of a range of products, benefits and concerns associated with biotechnology and to provide an opportunity to African agricultural scientists and experts to use their knowledge to find lasting solutions to
It seeks to ensure that a critical mass of knowledge possessed by scientists is made available to policy makers and the public.
Most Popular Stories
- Dmytro Firtash, Ukrainian Billionaire, Arrested in Vienna
- Obama, Ukraine Discuss Russian Incursion in Crimea
- Federal Gov't Deficit Continues to Decline
- Russia Holds Large Military Drills in South
- Calumet Photo Files for Bankruptcy
- Venezuela Death Toll Reaches 28
- Ukraine Moves Closer to Joining E.U.
- Ukraine Loan Delayed While Congress Goes on Vacation
- Herbalife Puts Off Meeting for Icahn Talks
- Navarro Celebrates 2 Years of Vida Mia