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US Biotech expert holds seminar

Sep 19, 2011, 3:05 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

A biotechnology expert from the United States of American has arrived in the country on Monday to conduct a series of seminars, and attend a forum to speak to policy makers, farmers and members of the scientific community on the use of biotechnology to promote agricultural production and achieve food self-sufficiency in The Gambia.

Dr Hortense Dodo, a professor and Fulbright scholar, Wednesday held a seminar for science students of the University of the Gambia, the Gambia College School of Agriculture and some Grade 12 science students at the American Corner.

The seminar, among others, focused on topics including the advent of biotechnology: history of the science and controversies; how biotechnology is applied to various crops: the scientific process at work; benefits of biotechnology: how it has contributed to food security, efficient land use”.

Also discussed at the seminar was reduction of pesticides; biotech in African success stories: sweet potatoes in Ghana, Cotton in Burkina; the future of biotechnology: what today’s students need to know, and a discussion on the way forward for biotechnology in The Gambia.

Speaking in an interview with this reporter shortly after the seminar, Dr Dodo underscored the importance of biotechnology, noting that it would be difficult to have development in Africa without the use of biotechnology, as it ensures food self-sufficiency and a hunger-free society.

An Ivorian by birth, Dr Dodo, who is in Banjul courtesy of the US Embassy, told this reporter

that biotechnology in agriculture is critical, because the majority of African economies are based on agriculture.

Noting that it is time for The Gambia to work on biotechnology, the biotechnology expert urged the Gambia government to put in place some legislation on how biotechnology can be done and put capacity building at the University of the Gambia, NARI, so that young people can take part in this scientific revolution and improve the condition of the Gambian people.

Citing the African continent as a place where you have malnutrition, poverty, famine, Dr Dodo called on African students and people to be involved, and start learning the sciences.

Dr Dodo taught biotechnology at the University of Abidjan in Ivory Coast and served as biotech advisor to the Ivorian government. She has spoken at international seminars

on biotechnology in Switzerland and Austria and in several African countries, including Senegal, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

Dodo is currently President of a biotech startup company with a focus on R&D and commercialization of transgenic agricultural crops.

Dr Dodo who arrived in The Gambia on September 12, said in the interview that she will speak today at Kairaba Beach Hotel on the topic, “to share with and educate the Gambian policymakers and students, on this new phenomenon which has the potential to lift sub-Saharan Africa out of hunger and poverty”.

Meanwhile, Dr Dodo yesterday held a day-long biotechnology outreach seminar for policy makers, as well as agricultural stakeholders at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.