Kenyan scientists on Tuesday called on African governments to diversify uses of biotechnology and begin to embrace the emerging applications, particularly in the crop protection solutions.

Francis Mulaa, professor of biochemistry and biotechnology at the University of Nairobi (UoN), asked the governments to start focusing on the use of biotechnology.

“We need to start researching on other uses of biotechnology instead of over conducting trials on agricultural biotechnology that is taking too long,” Mulaa said during a meeting on biotechnology.

Mulaa noted that the diversification to other range of biotechnology including crop protection solutions will help save farmers from making loses from pests.

He said the governments should put emphasis on environmental and economic benefits that biotechnology can offer in agriculture, manufacturing and waste management.

“The alternative use of modern biotechnology is capable of increasing food security hence reducing starvation, obesity, pest control and fertility loss instead of advocates of the technology taking long to have policies and approval for trials,” he added.

The scholar noted that scientists are capable of applying modern biotechnology that involves studying components and interactions of a whole system to address scientific, economic and social issues.

Romano Mwirichia, senior lecturer of microbiology at the University of Embu, said there is need to acknowledge the potential of biotechnology application in plastic waste management.

Mwirichia noted that modern biotechnology is capable of decomposing common marine debris such as plastic bottles that are posing serious threat to both life on land and under water.

“The plastics provide a resource for microbial growth and reproduction hence a good source of energy,” he added.

The lecturer said African governments are capable of generating methane from their dumpsites that are filled with wastes. “The dumpsites produce lots of carbon that is capable of producing energy for use in cooking,” he said.

Mwirichia observed that with the availability of wastes in leading urban setups in the continent, countries are capable of using biotechnology in plastic waste management hence contribute to the lowering of climate change effects.

He said that despite banning the use of plastic bags last year in Kenya, the use of plastic bottles, single-use plastic cups and straws is still rampant, leaving habitat chocking in non-biodegradable waste.

“There is an urgent need to explore various ways of ridding natural environment of these pollutants through the use of modern biotechnology,” he said.

Mwirichia noted that various biotechnological interventions exist to help manage plastic pollution and other wastes.

“Novel, environmentally-friendly solutions and integrated knowledge base is available on the continent to help drive the management of waste management through modern biotechnology,” he said. Enditem


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