Disconnect between policymakers, scientists hurting innovation in Africa

Uptake of expert advise on agricultural innovation still low in Africa

Uptake of expert advise on agricultural innovation still low in Africa

Something very encouraging happened last week in Africa. African farmers are finally taking matters into their own hands. Last week under the banner of Do Agric Campaign, the farmers directly asked African heads of state to honor their past pledges by investing at least 10% of their GDPs on agriculture. More importantly, they also asked them to establish facilitative policies to promote rapid development of agriculture on the continent.

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Scientists weigh in on republication of flawed Seralini et al report

Following yesterday’s republication of Seralini’s retracted report, the London-based Science Media Centre, which assists reporters when major science news breaks, gathered expert views from renowned scientists’ take on this new development. As expected, the scientists maintained  that the study is at best a product of pseudoscience and therefore should not be relied upon for any decision making on safety of the maize variety or any other GM product in the market as happened before in countries like Kenya and Russia. It will be remembered that when the study first came out all major world academies of sciences and food safety authorities dismissed the report as unreliable heresy. It should not be lost on observers that the Séralini-led European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), whose deputy chairman is co-author of the French study and whose membership is a ‘Who’s Who’ of anti-biotechnology scientists. Below are scientists withering critiques of the report and the overriding conclusion then as now is that the study not only swept aside all known benchmarks of scientific good practice but also ignored the minimal standards of scientific and ethical conduct.

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It is time for intercontinental dialogue over GMO moral dilemma

It is time for dialogue over GMO moral dilemma

Mr Mutiso wont grow his favorite cash crop any more due to high cost of inputs and low prices

Mr Mutiso wont grow his favorite cash crop any more due to high cost of inputs and low prices

Recently an article appeared in the Standard Daily (Friday June 20, 2014) warning ‘Local farmers will find it difficult to export their crops to Europe if they adopt the Genetically Modified (GM) crops.’ The writer based the article on alleged utterances by the head of an EU delegation to Kenya, Lodewjik Briet, during a TV interview. I would like to believe that Briet was misquoted because it is inconceivable that such a high-ranking EC official could have said something that he must have known to be utter nonsense. It’s really outrageous that the head of the EC delegation said such inaccurate things, if in deed he said them.

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OFAB launches newest chapter in Ethiopia

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) have launched the eighth chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The launch presided over by EIAR Director General, Dr. Fentahun Mengistu , and Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, AATF Technical Director, brought together about 40 participants,  representing various organizations, including Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Ethiopian Society for Advancement of Technology, International Maize and Wheat Improvement and the media, among others.

EIAR DG Dr Mengistu (right) and AATF Technical Director Dr Okogbenin and AATF Senior Communications and Partnerships Manager, Mrs Muchiri cutting the cake to mark official launch of OFAB Ethiopia Chapter

EIAR DG Dr Mengistu (right) and AATF Technical Director Dr Okogbenin and AATF Senior Communications and Partnerships Manager, Mrs Muchiri cutting the cake to mark official launch of OFAB Ethiopia Chapter

In his official remarks, the DG said Ethiopia had embarked on an ambitious agricultural transformation program whereby innovative technologies are playing significant roles. He welcomed the establishment of OFAB chapter in Ethiopia, saying that it will enable the Ethiopian society ‘to talk to each other more openly and credibly’ about the benefits of new agricultural technologies, including modern biotechnology, and address concerns and challenges as well.

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Welcome to the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB)

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) is a platform that brings together stakeholders in biotechnology and enables interactions between scientists, journalists, the civil society, industrialists, lawmakers and policy makers. It is a monthly lunch meeting that provides an opportunity for key stakeholders to know one another, share knowledge and experiences, make new contacts and explore new avenues of bringing the benefits of biotechnology to the African agricultural sector.

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