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Bolstering food security
How the science of biotechnology is
complementing conventional agriculture


s the world seeks to adopt the
new Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs), global food security
remains humanity’s most pressing need
given a growing population expected to
exceed nine billion in 2050. Holding the
future of our food are farmers, who now
need to grow 70 percent more food but
from less land in order to feed the world.

Africa is at a crossroads in producing enough
food for all, while balancing the often conflicting
needs of land and water use for agriculture. Food
security is the greatest quest for mankind today,
especially with the advent of climate change,
which research indicates will affect growing
conditions and weather patterns, making it
difficult to sustain agriculture. The science
of biotechnology—the use of living organisms
by modifying their products or processes for
specific use—is complementing conventional
agriculture by helping farmers grow enough
good quality food and to earn better incomes too.
“By taking the lead in promoting the GM technology, South Africa has taken a major step for
food security,” says Dr. Nompumelelo Obokoh,
a Plant Molecular Biologist and the Chief
Executive Officer of AfricaBio. “GM crops are not
the silver bullet to South Africa and Africa’s food
challenges but one of many solutions because
biotechnology has helped farmers cope with
climate change through the use of new seed
varieties that allow crops to grow in harsh
conditions, while herbicide tolerant crops have
done away with extensive land tillage helping
keep carbon in the soil and boosting crop yields
resulting in higher farm incomes.”
AfricaBio is a not-for-profit, biotechnology
stakeholder organization established in 1999 to
promote safe, ethical and responsible research,
development and application of biotechnology
and its products in South Africa as well as
throughout the African continent.
“AfricaBio believes it is time Africa took
the stand in supporting and promoting


Dr Nompumelelo Happyworth
Obokoh, CEO

Prof John Mugabe

biotechnology in agriculture to progress its
march towards a sustainable and food secure
future. The time for action is now,” says Prof.
John Mugabe, a science and innovation policy
specialist and President of the AfricaBio Board
of Directors. .
Ms Kelebohile Lekoape, Vice President of
AfricaBio, also agrees that Africa is well-poised
in adopting GM crops for sustainable agriculture
through the proven benefits of reduced crop
losses, better yields and even improved quality
food from diminished secondary infections, all
achieved on less land.
Prof. John Mugabe Ouma is Professor at the
Graduate School of Technology Management
and Research Associate at the Institute for
Technological Innovation (ITI), University
of Pretoria. He is also the President of the
AfricaBio Board of Directors and was a science
and innovation policy consultant for the World
Bank Institute as well as an associate of the
Next Einstein Initiative (NEI) of the African
Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in
Cape Town, South Africa.
He is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and
Science (WAAS) and holds a doctorate degree
in political economy of science and technology
(with emphasis on technological capability

Ms Kelebohile Lekoape
Vice President

building) from the University of Amsterdam,
The Netherlands.
Ms. Kelebohile Masefako Lekoape is the
Regulatory Manager at Bayer CropScience. She
is the Vice-President of the AfricaBio Board of
Directors and has over 10 years experience in
the regulation and biosafety of modern biotechnology. Ms. Lekoape has published widely on
biosafety issues.
Dr Nompumelelo Happyworth Obokoh, the
CEO of AfricaBio is trained as a Plant Molecular
Biologist with a PhD degree from the University
of Cambridge, Magdalene College, UK. Prior to
her current appointment, Dr Obokoh was the
Country Representative for the Kenya based
African Agricultural Technology Foundation
working in Abuja, Nigeria. She has over 10
years international and local experience in
agricultural biotech research, development and
management since starting her career as a PostDoctoral Research Associate at the Institute of
Biotechnology, University of Cambridge. ▲
AfricaBio, The Innovation Hub Centre, Enterprise
Building, 1st Floor Suite U9, Mark Shuttleworth
Street, Pretoria, South Africa. Tel: +27 12 844
0126, Fax: +27 866 199 399, e-mail:, web: