GMOs: a Science and Society Issue

Presentation by Jocelyn Webster
Executive Director
AfricaBio, South Africa

The development of modern biotechnology and genetically modified organism (GMOs) has impacted on all areas of biological science in today’s world. For example the use of these technologies allows scientists to: isolate genes to produce specific products or change the expression levels of identified genes or identify specific genes to allow more accurate selective breeding or even to move genes from one species to another.

While scientists have developed these elegant and precise new technologies to make unique medicines, produce new foods, make new industrial products and address global challenges such as environmental and energy issues, society has been left behind.

The general public often reacts to modern biotechnology and their feelings of loss of control, lack of understanding or an overload of conflicting information in a negative manner rather than embracing these new solutions. Yet this science that society may need for its future survival is moving ahead day by day.

Society’s dilemma with GMOs will be highlighted in this presentation through the discussion of modern agricultural biotechnology and its relevance to developing countries.

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Speaker’s profile
Prof. Jocelyn Webster is the Executive Director of AfricaBio, the Biotechnology Stakeholders Association based in South Africa. This organization is a non-political, non-profit biotechnology stakeholders association serving as a factual reference point and a forum for informed discussion on biotechnological and biosafety issues in Africa. To date, Prof. Webster has many publications in international journals, contributions to scientific books and has presented over 70 papers at national, regional and international conferences and workshops.

Prof. Webster sits on several boards of agricultural and biotechnology based organizations and has more than 30 years experience in R&D in biological sciences with skills and experience in:Medical and industrial microbiology, Medical immunology, Microbial genetics and plant biotechnology.

Prof. Webster has also established her own biotechnology consulting business, ProBio, which provides services to industries, academia and research organizations both nationally and internationally.