I have been passionate about and active in biotechnology for about 25 years now. I think I was genetically modified with this unshakable passion in high school. At that time, I had moved to Morocco with my family and the combination of studying biotechnology at school and experiencing the challenges faced by many in the late 80s in North Africa struck a double chord. The teenager full of hopes and dreams that I was wanted to find solutions. I wanted to help get to a place where no mother would ever have to watch her child dying of hunger or of a preventable disease. A world where every single human being was able to look after his or her family and cultivate his or her food whatever the climate, latitude or longitude.
Now, 25 years later, to some extent I can see my dream coming true. Scientists are developing crops that withstand all sorts of climatic challenges and we are able to improve food nutrition and combat malnutrition through agricultural and industrial biotechnology applications. Vaccination is achieved via routes that are adapted to the realities of developing countries, and healthcare partnerships are flourishing throughout the world. Most importantly, those developing countries are equipping themselves with the science and developments they need.
When I said I could see my dream coming true, I should have added: slowly, always too terribly slowly. Unfortunately, in addition to the geopolitical situation in individual developing countries, the biggest barriers to such benefits reaching those in need are often rather more political than technological and more often than not ripple-on-effects from decisions we take in Europe. For example, before being approved, biotech products are rightly assessed for their safety. In some regions, such as Europe, their market authorization is subject to a political vote even after the science has confirmed the product’s safety and very often decisions can be delayed for years and in some cases decades. Europe is a key trading region for many countries around the world, including in the developing world. A lack of decision or delay in Europe can severely harm the possibilities for other geographies to embrace the technology they need to flourish.
Political indecision or reticence stem from an unwelcoming and/or uninformed societal environment. We in the biotech community must take the time and make the effort to engage in dialogue, explain the science, the benefits and the potential of biotechnology and answer questions. Those who love, work, breathe the technology should understand better than anyone else just how difficult it is to understand such a complex and rapidly evolving science, which continuously pushes the boundaries of knowledge. That is why I strongly encourage all biotech stakeholders to join forces and engage with all stakeholders including the general public of all ages in order to fill the communication gap and debunk any misinformation there might still be about the technology.
One opportunity to do so is during European and Global Biotech Week. In its fourth edition this year, a record 16 European countries have activities and events in their territories to showcase the many ways in which biotechnology drives innovation for the benefit of mankind, and explain why there is no science like biotech! It is exciting and motivating to see more and more players taking up the challenge to stand up for their science and their products and take the risk of debating and the opportunity of enthusing others.
Please join us and three other continents this year during European and Global Biotech Week in discovering what biotech means for our lives between September 26 and October 2. Because biotechnology is making our world and our lives better.
This article was written by GMO Answers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.