NAM scientists adopt resolution on industrialisation

By Sifelani Tsiko

HARARE – The second Non-Aligned Movement Science and Technology technical meeting on industrial biotechnology ended recently here with experts adopting a new resolution calling on member states to invest more in scientific research to unlock the potential that science holds in driving economic growth.

Under the decision dubbed the: ‘Harare Resolution on Industrial Biotechnology,’ experts resolved that NAM member states needed to take appropriate measures to establish research development and innovation funds to support industrial biotechnology.

Zimbabwe hosted the second NAM Science and Technology technical meeting on industrial biotechnology to promote value addition and beneficiation among member states from August 22 – 24.

The theme of the technical meeting was: “Driving Value Addition and Beneficiation”.

NAM S & T Centre director general said the Harare resolutions underlined the essential role of biotechnology as a driver of industrialisation which sought to create economic growth, employment and innovation in member countries.

“It’s a clear commitment by scientists to support industrialisation of NAM member states,” he said. “We are convinced that industrial biotechnology is a strategic tool for driving economic growth, competitiveness and sustainability.”

Experts were drawn from Cuba, Egypt, The Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They all agreed that research activities should be intensified in the application of industrial biotechnology in a safe, sustainable and responsible manner that respected laws and national sovereignty of NAM member states.

Value addition and beneficiation, intellectual property rights and biosafety awareness should form an important component of the curriculum in the education system at all levels, the experts further said.

The technical experts also said that beneficial collaborations and partnerships for generation and exchange of knowledge in the fields of industrial biotechnology among scientists and scientific organizations from NAM member countries should be promoted.

Experts said it was critical to identify industrial biotechnology applications for value addition and beneficiation based on the socio-economic potential in NAM member states.

They also called for the participation of all key stakeholders in the development, utilisation and commercialisation of biotechnologies in industries for sustained development.

Experts say industrial biotechnology is a set of practices that use living cells (such as bacteria, yeast, algae) or component of cells like enzymes, to generate industrial products and processes.

Some examples include bread making, beer brewing, yoghurt making, cheese making, energy production of biogas and ethanol among other products.

It is also used to produce antibodies, vaccines, diagnostic kits and therapy.

NAM was established in 1961, originally as an alliance of newly independent Afro-Asian states to counter a world riven by antagonism between the USA and the USSR.

The 120-member movement became a vehicle for developing countries to assert their independence from the competing claims of the two superpowers.

Today NAM largely aims to represent the political, economic and cultural interests of the developing world.

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