Harvard Professor A Flag Bearer For Agricultural Innovation, Biotechnologies In Africa21/06/2013 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.A Harvard University professor known for advancing global development issues hails the merits of agricultural innovation, including biotechnologies, as the unique solution to food security. Calestous Juma, director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, and principal investigator for agricultural innovation in Africa for the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, spoke before McGill University graduates in Montreal on 4 June.Juma directs the Harvard Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project and is faculty chair of the Innovation for Economic Development executive program. The Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been in support of agricultural biotechnology. Juma is a former executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and founding director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi, according to the Belfer Center.In his presentation at McGill, Juma said, “Since their commercial debut in the mid-1990s, genetically designed crops have added about $100 billion to world crop output, avoided massive pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions, spared vast tracts of land and fed millions of additional people worldwide,” according to the Belfer Center webpage.Juma called for an innovation system that includes “improving interactions between academia, government, business and farmers,” and lamented the fact that “of the 28 countries today growing transgenic crops,” only four are in Africa (South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan).“Delays in subjecting these products for testing and approval for commercial use are due in part to ‘technological intolerance,'” he was quoted as saying, “much of which has been handed down by European anti-biotechnology activism.”On transgenic plant science innovations already in use in Africa, he said, “The techniques mastered in these proof-of-concept states can be extended to a wide range of indigenous African crops.”This is in stark contrast to claims by large international farmers’ groups such as Via Campesina, or civil society, such as the Canada-based ETC Group, and the United Nations Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter. These sources generally say that transgenic crops are endangering biodiversity and food security, lead to soil exhaustion, seed monopoly, and to impoverishment of small farmers due to reliance on expensive inputs.Juma also co-chairs the High-Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation of the African Union. The African Union is part of the Grow Africa venture, which seeks to accelerate investments for sustainable growth in African agriculture, along with the World Economic Forum, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). NEPAD also received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Harvard Professor A Flag Bearer For Agricultural Innovation, Biotechnologies In Africa" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.