A seminar on the theme The Role of Biotechnology in Sustainable Health and Food Security, was on Friday October 4, 2019, held at the Auditorium 900 at the University of Cape Coast (UCC). The well attended program was graced by scientists, students of the University,students of some Senior High Schools and other dignitaries. Senior High Schools that were in attendance included Adisadel College, Aggrey Memorial Senior High School, Ghana National College, Jukwa Senior High School, Efutu Senior Technical High School, Sammo Senior High School and Oguaa Senior High School.

Part of dignitaries present were Professor Boampong, Provost of the College of Health and Allied Sciences, and Professor Justice Sarfo, Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, and Chairman for the occasion.

The  first speaker for the occasion, Dr. Foster Kyei, who is also the Registration and Examination Officer for the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department spoke on the The Role of Biotechnology in Sustainable Health. He touched on some areas such as Agricultural, Industrial and Medical Biotechnology and the role of nutrient-enriched genetically modified food on our health and the dependence of our overall health on the food we consume (Food Medicine).  He said, “Responsible biotechnology is not an enemy but rather, starvation is. It is an engineering technology used to modify microorganisms for our profitable use”. He stressed on the need for biotechnology and  its use in stem cell therapy, gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, pharmacogenomics and assisted reproductive technology.


Dr. Foster Kyei

He also outlined some challenges that affects the application of medical biotechnology in Ghana and beyond. This included ethical issues and inadequate financial support for sponsorship and sustainability of relevant research.
Dr. Kyei concluded that “Biotechnology has greatly influenced every aspect of human health, It has offered modern medical devices for diagonistic and preservative methods.”

 

The second  speaker and Head of the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department, Professor Aaron T. Asare, in his speech on The Role of Biotechnology in Sustainable Food Security, listed climate change, low-tech agriculture, aged farmers, poverty, environmental degradation, population growth, loss of genetic resource and lack of formal education as threats to food security . He added that through biotechnology, agriculture is responding  to profound challenges some of which are the introduction of bird flu-resistant chicken, eco-friendly pigs and high yielding and disease free crop varieties. Prof. Asare also unveiled two new varieties of cowpea developed by himself, namely Asaremoya (Asare, well done) and Kumzoya (Hunger has ran away).

Prof. Aaron T. Asare

A deeply insightful and interactive Question-and-Answer session during the event, was dominated by discussions concerning requirements for farmers’ appraisal, conducting research, stirring up of the interest of research institutions on research findings made in biotechnology.

Five of the questions that elicited major talking points were:
1. What are the prerequisites for being awarded the best Farmer in Ghana?
2. What actions are being taken to increase the involvement of some research institutions such as the Noguchi
Memorial Research Institute in the area of Biotechnology?
3. Does nutrition play a substantial role on our appearance (phenotype) and how does biotechnology feature in
this?
4. Are therapeutic protein and cancer protein cures 100% natural?
5. Is there a systematic approach to conscientize the public on what foods to eat, as well as in their
right proportions?

 

In the final remarks, Prof. Sarfo who chaired the event and also represented the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast strongly urged the upcoming generation to incorporate the use of biotechnology in using our raw materials and resources to produce our own goods and provide services for the betterment of the country. He also made a strong case for some Senior High Schools to be adopted into this all-important program of study (Biotechnology).


Prof. Sarfo and Prof. Boampong


some executives and lecturers of the department

By: Dennis Baffour-Awuah

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