Experts eye Africa-friendly biotechnology curriculum

Experts have proposed changes in the biotechnology curriculum to reflect the African way of life, politics and social cultural norms in bid to boost acceptance.

The experts – mainly local university dons working under European Union – funded Sector for Food Security and Biotechnology in Africa (FSBA) – said increased uptake of biotechnology would boost food security Kenya.

Miriam Kinyua, FSBA co-ordinator, told the Business Daily that the current curriculum did not address food security and biotechnology in its entirety.

“This new curriculum is unique. It embraces the African diveersity, but also contains the science that should be included in such a programme,” Prof Kinyua said last week on the side-lines of a stakeholders meeting on the food security and biotechnology in Nairobi.

The curriculum, expected in September after approval by regulators, has been under formulation by the University of Eldoret (Kenya), University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and University of Nigeria. The University of Groningen in Netherlands has been the lead partners since 2013.

The move comes amid stiff opposition to genetically modified foods and other biotechnology innovations by a section of civil society.

According to Prof Kinyua, the proposed curriculum would strengthen the education and outreach capacities of the African countries in creating the necessary conditions for a sustainable application of biotechnology in food production.

The team has been working with Nepad, the scientific arm of the African Union (AU).

Prof Kinyua said they have embraced African science and therefore curriculum is based on AU aspirations. Experts argue biotechnology could solve food insecurity caused by drought or climate change.

Prof Kinyua said biotechnology is being misunderstood as genetic engineering and Africa seems to be scared.

“Why the continent is scared of genetic engineering canoot be understood,” she said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that climate change would lead to a decline in agricultural yields of up to two per cent each decade as the demand for food increases by 14 per cent.


Original article can be found here.