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Biologist to zoom in on genetic engineering and explore its potential impact on local agriculture

Biologist to zoom in on genetic engineering and explore its potential impact on local agriculture

The Namibia Scientific Society will host Dr. Andre de Kathen, a biologist and science teacher, on 18 October at 1930, where he will be give a public talk titled ‘Genetic Engineering: Bane or Blessing?’

Dr de Kathen will explain the historical context and the scientific and technical background of genetic engineering and he will provide data on its worldwide adoption, social, economic and health impacts and will than discuss scenarios, which may impact agriculture in the country.

According to a short report by the Allgemeine Zeitung in early July 2018, the Namibian Cabinet decided to grant permits for several genetically modified organisms or derivative products. But the questions now asked are, what is the scientific basis of genetic engineering techniques, and are there potential implications even for Namibia’s agricultural sector?

History has it that for more than 20 years, genetically engineered crops are commercialised and for almost a decade, the debate on GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) appeared to be settled, but new technical developments ignited a new debate on what are GMOs and how they are to be regulated.

Dr de Kathen studied biology at the University of Bonn, obtained his PhD from the University of Hannover for genetic engineering of pea and continued his research as a PostDoc in Hannover. He has worked on the genetic improvement of peas, beans and chickpeas in cooperation with research institutions in Europe, Colombia, Syria, Egypt and India.

In 2000, he left research and worked as a consultant on impact assessment, project management and training for different institution in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa and from 2002 to 2004 he worked as an advisor to the Namibian Government on the development and implementation of  bio-safety legislation.

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.

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