Wednesday, 6 March 2013

UNESCO seeks entrenchment of biotechnology in Africa for development

The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation, UNESCO wants African governments to commence popularisation of biotechnology as the surest route to drive development in the continent.

The recommendation came at an international seminar on biotechnology held to formally commission the International Centre for Biotechnology, UNESCO Category 2 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka recently.

Speaking, Director of Basic Sciences, Professor Maciej Nalecz, said biotechnology would enable Africa leapfrog competition from other continents because “it already has its hubs, so it does not need to be started from zero.’’

He said advocacy for and popularisation of biotechnology is needed in Africa in order to tackle agricultural- related issues such as food and nutrition safety, drought-resistant plant and tissue culture; health-related issues like tropical diseases, vaccines, pharmaceuticals; biomedical engineering such as artificial organs; energy issues biomass; and, material sciences, nanotechnology and many others.

For UNESCO, biotechnology is imperative in Africa. Nalecz justified the call stating that “’The issues of food and nutrition security and tropical diseases remain prime development challenges facing the African continent and there are tremendous opportunities to harness the power of modern biotechnology in addressing these challenges’’.

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