ASSAf News

The Royal Society of South Africa and  the Academy of Science of South Africa invite you to a Zoom Webinar on GM Crops and the Global Divide - Professor Jennifer Thomson, FRSSAf, University of Cape Town, 

Abstract:In this webinar Jennfer Thomson explores global attitudes to Genetically-Modified crops and unravels the reasons behind negative sentiments. Attitudes to GM crops continue to generate tension, even though they have been grown commercially for over 20 years. Negative sentiment towards their development limits their adoption in Western countries, despite there being no evidence of harm to human health. These unfounded concerns about genetically modified crops have also inhibited uptake in many countries throughout Africa and Asia, having a major impact on agricultural productivity and preventing the widespread cultivation of potentially life-saving crops.Her latest book, GM Crops and the Global Divide traces the historical importance that European attitudes to past colonial influences, aid, trade and educational involvement have had on African leaders and their people. The detrimental impact that these attitudes have on agricultural productivity and food security continues to be of growing importance, especially in light of climate change, drought and the potential rise in sea levels – the effects of which could be mitigated by the cultivation of GM and gene-edited crops.

By addressing the detrimental effects that anti-GM opinions have on nutrition security in developing countries and providing a clear account of the science to counter these attitudes, she hopes to highlight and ultimately bridge this global divide.

About the speaker: Jennifer Thomson is Emeritus Professor in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town, her alma mater where she completed her BSc in Zoology. She also has an MA in Genetics from Cambridge and a PhD in Microbiology from Rhodes University. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. She lectured in the Department of Genetics at Wits before founding and directing the Laboratory for Molecular and Cell Biology for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. She then became Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Cape Town, a post she held for 12 years. Her main research interests have been the development of maize resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus and tolerant to drought.

Other positions held include the Deputy Dean of Science at UCT, a former chair and member of the South African Genetic Engineering Committee, co-founder and former chair of SA Women in Science and Engineering, Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and former Vice-President of the SA Academy of Science. She was the founding Chair of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Vice-Chair of the board of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) and President of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World. and was recently awarded the International Prize for the Protection of Human Rights by the Accademia dei Lincei of Italy. She is a regular writer and international speaker on the subject of genetically modified organisms, especially crops and foods derived from them. Her books, Genes for Africa, Seeds for the Future and Food for Africa are geared towards the layperson. Her most recent book is GM Crops and the Global Divide.

Topic: Webinar - Royal Society and ASSAf

Date: Jun 16, 2021 

Time: 5pm

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89501898108?pwd=VmpEbmhxMEp3cUlWUDZOdVBrb3lvUT09

Meeting ID: 895 0189 8108

Passcode: 106392


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