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June 4th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project/

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
It is morning time, we are in a hotel based at the center of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, attending a stakeholders meeting on the subject how biotechnology cuts across all science-related sectors.

Among the attendees are students and recent graduates with degrees biotechnology. Among those is Jonan Twinamatsiko, who stops to discuss the idea of using genetic engineering in Uganda.

He explains that, despite what the average person might think, modern biotechnology has applications far beyond the realm of agriculture. The same technology can be used for human health and for the environment. Too many people in this region have come to associate the words “genetic engineering” with tainted, or even poisonous, foods.

“I remember during my first year, lecturers introduced the topic of GMO’s as part of the course unit. I became curious and asked my lecturer Dr Arthur Tugume all sorts of questions. I did not like the topic and I wanted to change the course. But when the teaching about molecular biology and how to select genes from a given biological species was introduced, I developed interest in the course,” Twinamatsiko said.

After attending a number of educational meetings where scientists present papers on genetic engineering, he has come to appreciate the science and its potential.

“I was particularly impressed when we were taught that insulin a drug used by patients suffering from diabetes. I liked it because genetic engineering is used to save lives in the health sector,” he said. Read more