Zimbabwe has launched a forum to publicly discuss the use of biotechnology for boosting the country’s food security
The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), launched early December, aims to explore ways to boost Zimbabwe’s crop yields without using genetically modified (GM) crops, which are banned in the country.
Olivia Muchena, minister of higher and tertiary education, science and technology development, called for greater public awareness about the role of biotechnology in agriculture, to dispel the misconception that biotechnology necessarily meant GM technology.
Biotechnology refers to scientific techniques that use biological systems, living organisms or their derivatives to make or modify products or processes.
Genetic modification, meanwhile, alters the genetic structure of living organisms to confer characteristics such as better resistance to disease and tolerance of heat or water stress.
Zimbabwe is one of several African countries that has banned the cultivation or sale of GM crops.
The private sector companies are reportedly backing the new forum in the hope it may eventually influence government policy on GMOs, AllAfrica reported..
Barbra Sehlule Muzata, spokesperson for DuPont Pioneer, said, “Forums like this are important as a country considers the best way to bring innovation to their agricultural industry and how to improve the food security of its people.”
Similar forums played a key role in other countries around the world, and it was hoped that Zimbabwe would have a positive experience as well, Muzata added.