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OFAB Kenya Mobilizes Youth and Scientists for Biotechnology Advocacy in Celebration of International Biodiversity Day.

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Kenya (OFAB Kenya) and other stakeholders have embarked on an ambitious sensitization forum to engage and educate the youth and young scientists on the importance of advocating for biotechnology advancements. This initiative aims to bolster the role of biotechnology in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation.

The three-day sensitization forum culminated in a significant meeting at the University of Embu. Participants included early career scientists specializing in biotechnology, agriculture, and breeding from 11 universities across Kenya. These young scientists were encouraged to participate actively in policy advocacy and biotechnology debates, aligning with this year’s theme, “Be Part of The Plan.”

During the forum, attendees had the opportunity to visit BT cotton farms in Embu and Kirinyaga Counties. These study visits were designed to provide practical insights into the benefits and applications of biotechnology in agriculture. BT cotton, a genetically modified organism (GMO), is engineered to resist pests and reduce the need for chemical pesticides, thus promoting a more sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural practice.

The forum was strategically timed to coincide with the 2024 International Day for Biological Biodiversity, highlighting the critical role that biotechnology can play in conserving biodiversity. The theme for this year’s International Day, “Be Part of The Plan,” emphasizes collective action and participation in global biodiversity initiatives.

Dr. Roy Mugira, CEO of the National Biosafety Authority, addressed the participants, underscoring the importance of active involvement in the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This international framework aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, a goal that is intricately linked with advancements in biotechnology. Dr. Mugira highlighted that biotechnology offers innovative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in biodiversity conservation, such as developing crops that are more resilient to climate change and pests.

Additionally, the forum featured presentations and workshops led by experts in the field. Topics covered included the latest advancements in genetic engineering, regulatory frameworks for GMOs, and the socio-economic impacts of biotechnology on local communities. These sessions provided a comprehensive understanding of how biotechnology can contribute to sustainable development goals and food security.

Participants also engaged in interactive discussions on the ethical and safety considerations surrounding biotechnology. These discussions aimed to equip young scientists with the knowledge and skills needed to address public concerns and promote informed decision-making in biotechnology policy.

The forum concluded with a call to action for the young scientists to become ambassadors for biotechnology in their respective institutions and communities. They were encouraged to collaborate with policymakers, farmers, and other stakeholders to advocate for the adoption of biotechnological innovations that can drive sustainable agricultural practices and biodiversity conservation.

In summary, the sensitization forum organized by OFAB Kenya and its stakeholders marks a significant step towards empowering the next generation of scientists and leaders to champion biotechnology. Through education, practical experience, and active advocacy, these young scientists are poised to make meaningful contributions to the global effort to protect and enhance biodiversity while ensuring food security and sustainable development.

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