Entering the biotech maze
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CTA. 2003. Entering the biotech maze. Spore 105. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47974
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore105.pdf
Interested in getting more information about biotechnology?
Interested in getting more information about biotechnology? In knowing how it contributes to agricultural research and development? In what its current applications are in ACP agriculture? Or in the apparent risks? Or in finding a balanced viewpoint? As in any information search, the trick is in knowing what you want but how often that turns out to be a dilemma! O ne of the world s doughtiest campaigners and practitioners of contemporary biotechnology is Dr Norman Borlaug, who is generally recognised as the Father of the Green Revolution of the 1960s through his two decades of work in breeding new high-yielding varieties of wheat. One of his fondest sayings he said it again to Spore while this article was in preparation is that Mother Nature practices biotechnology, citing the evolution of a weed into what was to become durum wheat. The only difference between a modern scientist and Mother Nature is that she has never been in a hurry! So, where to start? Do you want to know about policy frameworks with which developing countries can assess their use and management of biotechnology? Or do you want to know about how the technology of rhizobium inoculation of certain roots (which enhances the process of nitrogen fixation) could not be replicated in Thailand until legislation had been passed to permit this? There are many books and directories, most of them thick in print, and very lengthy on the Web, all promising to be information sources on biotechnology. A safe and extremely lucid place to start is the Biotechnology and Development Monitor. It is a quarterly magazine, published in The Netherlands by The Network University, which is based in the University of Amsterdam. It deals with topics in the biotechnology and development fields and is directed at developing countries and sustainable development. The Monitor maintains a rigorously independent position and is not linked to any organisation with vested interests in biotechnology a rare epithet. It envisions a world where information on biotechnology and development is shared equally and impartially, and in which the Monitor supports all those who would like to contribute to knowledge building in the South as well as in the North. For many people, the greatest service of the magazine, now celebrating its 50th issue, is not so much in its soundness, although it is a recommended read if you are seriously interested in policy and practice. It is rather in a remarkably clear and impartial Website. The site content is organised into 11 thematic chapters: general, agriculture and food, sustainable development, health, patents, ethics, international organisations, associates, major companies, journals and miscellaneous. Each chapter introduces links to other information providers, all crisply described so that you know exactly where they stand and what you can expect from them again a rare, and very useful, gateway in this broad area. The agricultural chapter, for example, lists two dozen organisations involved in research, field trials, monitoring, promotion, advocacy The ethical chapter is a good place to visit to get a balanced set of options, since so much passion about biotechnology is expressed in terms of the moral imperatives of either increasing food production or not tampering with our food. And, nice touch, you can search it by topic, and by geographic area. Biotechnology and Development Monitor The Network University Nijnburg 2a 1081 GG Amsterdam The Netherlands Fax: +31 20 442 0977 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.biotech-monitor.nl