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Most Malawians show that they don't really understand issues of genetic engineering, they think it is an environmental hazard.
However boitech experts hail genetic engineering to be an answer to stop massive hunger in subsaharan Africa, also a scenario which has been exacerbated by climatic change.
However in Malawi there is currently no advocacy or sensitization to civic educate masses, something ought to be done.

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hooo, this is a controversial topic. I've covered it for many years. This is a global overview that suggests little progress in recent years --published Jan 2006.

Biotech may have some potential in future but it is not magic and carries risks. There are far easier ways to improve food production with existing tools right now.
What, may I ask, does not carry risks. Even doing nothing carries risks. So discussions about risks cannot transplanted from one setting to another. Much of today's agriculture is done with extensive use of polluting chemicals; yet the press is not screaming that it be terminated right away. So where is the equal treatment of the these farming systems except that sections of the press come with their own biases which are then imposed on a selective basis on readers.
One more data point: since you published your story, French farmers have been reported to be increasingly adopting GM crops. Maybe this it is a good time to do an update:
Stephen: On my point on media biases, I would like to refer you to systematic examination of this phenomenom is the New York Times: going as far back as 1890: "The More Things Change …: Milk Pasteurization, Food Irradiation, and Biotechnology in the New York Times," by Toby A. Ten Eyck and Melissa Williment published in the Social Science Journal, Volume 41, Issue 1, 2004, Pages 29-41. I would be happy to share the actual text if that is of interest. There are many other studies that specifically examine the way the media has handled the GM debate and of course the way it has retreated in the face of defeat in Latin America and Asia. While fatigue has taken the theme off the front pages of European papers, attention in turning to Africa because of the nascent character of biotechnology programmes. But even there decisions by farmers will send the sceptical media scrambling for new topics to scrutinize. This is what the media does and it should continue to do so. But we should not mistake professional scepticism with reality. By the way, I am completing a book on resistance to new technologies which covers the history of coffee, electric power, margarine, refrigeration, tractorization, and recorded music. Systematic press biases run through all the cases with remarkable predictability. I am tempted to paraphrase the perceptive American lawyer and poet, Eugene Ware: "The farmer works the soil. The agriculturalist works the farmer" [and the press works the consumer]. Calestous
Calestous, good to hear from you. There are enormous differences between how new techologies are applied, therein lies the concern and scepticism. Moreover there are almost always winners and losers with any significant change which I hope your book examines.

The biotech industry's chief concern is making profits not feeding people. And should we not be watchful and careful?
Stephen: Good to hear from you too! Yes, you are right: there are winners and losers and that is what triggers concerns. But there is a false assumption that all of biotechnology is controlled by multination corporation or the private sector. It is true that many of the key patents are still being help by these firms. But these patents are increasingly expiring and so the stranglehold of these firms on the industry is waning. As the knowledge becomes readily accessible, more countries will be able to move into this field and apply the techniques to their crops of interest. But to be able to do so requires building capacity for use and safety now; not simply saying 'no". There is a sad predecent to this. The early semi-conductor capacity was equally in the hands of corporations and the fear of job displacement scared off a lot of countries. When the technology became readily available many African countries were not readly to use it to meet their needs. A large part of the the so-called "digital divide" can be traced to these early decision. The same attitude could lead to a "genetic divide". It is notable that Africa is the only part of the work that is still "lagging" behind on biotechnology. The technology is being used in a wide range of farming system in Asia and Latin America, many of which do not involve foreign firms at all. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr's book, The Gene Revolution, address these issues quite well:

Dingaan: Malawi recently had a famine. Today the country is an exporter of grain. But to sustain such gains the country will need to bring all its talents in universities and national research institute to contribute to crop improvement. This means moving to the frontiers of agricltural technology. The recent decision by the President to bring together education and research is the right approach. What is needed now is to start bring together agricultural research and teaching together and forge strong links with farmers and the private sector. This will take some serious reforms in the country's research and system of higher education to bring them legally under one roof. Such institutional reforms will also make it easier to manage new technologies in all sectors, including biotechnology. Calestous
Stephen: here is a feel of the nature of the biotechnology debate in Kenya:
Some familiar issues are being raised in regard to a new Bill introduced in Parliament.
The African Union and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development have recently published the Report of the High-Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology, Freedom to Innovate. The report is available for download at the website of the NEPAD Office of Science and Technology
People with adequate income are seldom hungry, and when they are biotechnology is probably not the answer.

"Biotechnology" and "Genetic Engineering" are not synonyms. Genomics and plant tissue culture, for example, are included in biotechnology but do not involve recombinant DNA.

Genetic may be an answer to raising peoples income. The question might be, does the gain in income from genetic engineering justify the risk? That of course depends on the application. The most commonly grown GM crop in the world is soy, the second is corn, and the third most is cotton. Why would you worry about the risks involved in growing GM cotton? Why would you worry about the risks involved in growing feed crops of GM soy and corn?

I suggest you check the ISAAA website for information.



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