African journalists charged to douse myths around biotechnology’s acceptability on the continent

African journalists have been charged to help clear all doubts about the general acceptability of emerging agricultural technology tools.

Given that Africa is confronted with the challenge of feeding its ever-growing population, incorporating science and technology in agricultural production has key potential in addressing the food security challenges.

This is also critical as arable lands are lost to real estate development, illegal mining activities, dwindling water resources and climate change hovering around the globe of which Africa is of exception.

That notwithstanding, there is growing fear amongst some Africans about biotechnology and GMOs.

The full acceptance of genetically-engineered crops remains a challenge among the African population, hence their strong resistance to its adoption in some countries.

But various speakers at a two-day training workshop organized by AUDA-NEPAD on Gene Editing and Gene Drive for the African Biosafety Communication Network in Accra, downplayed the fears amongst the public, saying Gene editing and Gene drive have no cynical effect on human rights and lives.

According to Dr Edgar Traore, National Coordinator of OFAB, Burkina Faso, this is the best time for Africans to see the full potential associated with biotechnology.

He further explained that the general acceptability of it will inure to the public benefit in the long.

He alluded to the fact “electricity, car, knife and guns, mobile phones, and airplanes are all good for mankind, but at times they turned out to harm us, yet the antis do not see anything wrong with it and are rather distorting the airwaves to achieve no results”.

All these technologies emanated as a result of evolving technologies, therefore it would be of great disservice to Africans to forgo these emerging technologies that seek to address the food crisis on the continent.

He added that there is no better time than now for Africa to accept the technology and work to suit our cultural scoop.

Meanwhile, Mr Samuel E. Timpo, Principal Research Officer at AUDA NEPAD believes Gene Drive and Gene Editing tools have the potential to address the African food crisis, hence it’s appropriate for Journalists in Africa to lead the way and clear all shred of doubt being spearheaded by the antis.

According to him, African scientists have positioned themselves to develop the best for the continent and would not buy into anything that has the potential to endanger our lives.

This technology has been with us for centuries, but he wonders why it is facing stiff opposition amidst its modification in Africa.

The two days of training were to equip the journalists to better appreciate the work of scientists and deepen their knowledge of emerging technologies to aid the agricultural transformational agenda drive.

Gene editing is the manipulation of the genetic material of a living organism by deleting, replacing, or inserting a DNA sequence, typically to improve a crop or farmed animal or correct a genetic disorder.

Richmond Frimpong

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