The scientist and the scribe
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2002. The scientist and the scribe. Spore 102. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47763
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore102.pdf
Misunderstandings sometimes fly about between scientists and journalists: the former provide indigestible information, it is said, and the latter misrepresent. Yet, like mealie porridge and a sauce, they need each other, and so, in mid-October 2002,...
Misunderstandings sometimes fly about between scientists and journalists: the former provide indigestible information, it is said, and the latter misrepresent. Yet, like mealie porridge and a sauce, they need each other, and so, in mid-October 2002, scientists and journalists, mainly from countries in eastern and southern Africa, convened in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, for a workshop on agro-biotechnology and food security in the region. The workshop created close working ties between them, and opened the journalists eyes to the positive and negative contribution of biotechnology, in its broad scope, to food security. Visits to laboratories to learn how disease-free planting materials for cassava, sweet potatoes and bananas are being produced using tissue culture techniques demonstrated a positive tool. The introduction of genetically modified crops (GMC), whose effects have not been fully researched in African countries, nor elsewhere, presented a darker side. Scientists from Africa and beyond pushed for more research before their introduction, fearing negative repercussions on biodiversity and human health because of possible mutation of the genes in the imported GMC. The workshop indeed sensitised the scribes to the contribution that biotechnology, if well-managed, can make to food security by helping farmers grow productive pest- and disease-free crops. If it is not well researched or fails to use indigenous knowledge, however, it can pose threats to both health and environment. The whole endeavour was co-led by the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) association, CTA, KEPA Zambia, the Biomedical Research and Training Institute in Zambia and the Biotechnology and Development Monitor of The Netherlands, with extra funding from Novib. These agencies, plus the regional association of agricultural and scientific media professionals which was launched at the workshop, laid out extensive plans for follow-up.