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31ST MARCH 2020
Welcome to issue 26 of the DrumBeat!

We would like to begin by sending love, light and positive energy to all our readers. We are living in unprecedented times and it is easy to let fear consume us and render us powerless. We must not. As science advocates and champions for informed policy and choice, we have an opportunity to remind the world, especially our policymakers, what we have been agitating for over the years. The need to give science its rightful place in society.

In this issue, our Story of the Month does just that. It highlights some of the advances in science that can be harnessed to find a solution for COVID-19, but more importantly, calls on our leaders to invest in science, technology and innovation and simply give science a chance.

In Africa, we say that a hunter that has one arrow does not shoot with careless aim. The world is limping because of this pandemic. Therefore, our leaders must be intentional about their actions while keeping in mind that our hope lies in science. Africa must be more decisive and pro-active in ensuring science gets the funding and attention it deserves.

Our Video of the Month celebrates Kenya's progress towards adoption of Bt cotton. Given the hurdles that Kenya has had to overcome to get to this point, it reminds us that however long the night, the dawn will break.

Lastly, we have responded to your resounding call for a science communication-training workshop. This issue provides an opportunity for interested participants to register for our first course. We only have thirty slots so do not miss out. The level of misinformation during this pandemic is a stark reminder why we need our scientists to harness public communications skills and amplify their voices.

Happy reading!


Finally, Bt Cotton in Kenyan Farmers Hands

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Story of the month

Dr. Margaret Karembu
Director, ISAAA AfriCenter

Science finally gets the attention it deserves

COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruptions and brought lives to a standstill. Globally, more than 700,000 people have been infected with the virus, with over 37,000 succumbing to it by end of March. More worryingly, these figures are on a rapid increase, an indication of the gravity of the pandemic. Science remains the only hope to finding a solution. Scientists are harnessing bioscience tools as they strive to develop a vaccine amidst efforts that could offer the much-needed breakthrough. This pandemic has taught us hard lessons on trusting science and expert voices, and African governments have finally awaken to the reality of the need to fund scientific research.

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
Nigeria Cowpea Insect resistant December 12th 2019
Kenya Cotton Insect Resistant December 19th 2019 (Cabinet Approval)
Philippines Rice GR2E Nutrient enhanced- Vitamin A December 18th 2019
Due to COVID-19, the events will take place virtually
International Conference on Soil, Plant and Water Science (ICSPWS-2020)
International Conference on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology