We, the participants of the Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC) Symposium, held on 29-30 August 2019 in Pretoria, representing the academic and research community, lawmakers and policy advisors, civil society, the media, and other stakeholders drawn from sixteen (16) countries across the world, collectively issue the following statement resulting from this Symposium:
- The world faces intractable challenges, as the human population increases towards a likely 9.7 million by 2050 and climate change raises additional problems for agriculture, environment, and health;
- Progress has been made in meeting some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on eradicating poverty, hunger, deliberate climate action and promoting human health and wellbeing, much work remains to be done to ensure the global citizenry enjoys the full opportunities that come with healthy and sustainable societies;
- Genome editing and other modern biotechnologies, while not being the only solution to these challenges, offer great potential in addressing specific concerns in food production, nutrition, health interventions, environmental restoration, and conservation;
- The global dialogue around precise genome editing continues with recommendations on providing regulatory clarity and distinction between transgene-free products of genome editing and genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
- Regulatory frameworks on genome editing should facilitate access to useful and appropriate innovations with the potential to improve, human wellbeing, agricultural productivity, household incomes, food security, environmental sustainability and building a thriving bioeconomy.
We hereby resolve:
- To work together in improving bioscience communication, including the use of new and emerging strategies to ensure effectiveness.
- To foster open and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders, including those with divergent views on genome editing, in an effort to build consensus and common understanding.
- To encourage public participation in research direction and policy formulations on genome editing.
- To create awareness among the policy and decision-makers on genome editing.
- To establish an African Coalition for Communicating about Genome Editing.