Jennifer Thomson


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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) and Vice-Chair of the board of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA). She became President of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World in 2016 and was awarded the International Prize for the Protection of Human Rights by the Accademia dei Lincei of Italy in 2019. 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.