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Date:

April 6, 2010

Subject:

Sparking A Second Green Revolution; Inclusive View of Technology; Not A Nice Trait to Have; Eco-romanticists; Public Understanding

 



* How Science Could Spark a Second Green Revolution
* What is an Appropriate Technology?
* Bt Brinjal Row In India Catches S-E Asian Farmers' Attention
* GMO Asynchronous and Asymmetric Approvals
* Science and Innovation for Development
* Not A Nice Trait to Have
* Eco-romanticists in India
* EuropaBio's New Director for Agricultural Biotechnology
* 'World Agriculture'- New Journal
* Public Understanding of Science in Africa
---

How Science Could Spark a Second Green Revolution

- Gregory M. Lam, Christian Science Monitor, April 6, 2010 http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/290327

'To fight poverty and overpopulation, crops need coaxing. Advances in deep-root food plants may trigger a new Green Revolution.'

Jonathan Lynch wants to get at the roots of the problem of producing enough food for humanity. Literally.

In projects around the world, the professor of plant nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues are trying to develop crops whose root systems can resist drought and take up fertilizer from the soil more efficiently.

With world population expected to grow by nearly 50 percent to more than 9 billion people by midcentury, farmland is going to need to be much more productive. Even today, nearly 1 out of every 6 people in the world – more than 1 billion – are going hungry, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

With most good farmland already under cultivation, any new acreage would likely be in marginal land with either poor soil conditions or little rainfall. What's more, climate change is expected to make some regions drier or hotter, which may send crop yields plummeting.

What the world needs, say Dr. Lynch and others, is a new Green Revolution that can increase yields in the face of challenging and changing conditions.

"The idea that we could fertilize and irrigate our way out of this problem was the first Green Revolution" led by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Norman Borlaug and others, Lynch says. The second Green Revolution is going to be how we get plants to grow productively with less water and artificial fertilizer, he says.

That's where Lynch's idea for improving roots comes in. He calls the concept "steep, cheap, and deep" – developing crop roots that grow steeper and deeper into the soil, making them able to find more moisture and nutrients, thereby reducing need for irrigation and nitrogen fertilizers. (With crops that rely on phosphorus, he's breeding shallow roots, since phosphorus is typically found in topsoil.)

Working with bean breeders around the world, for example, Lynch's team has identified root traits that can produce "two or three times more food without fertilizer," he says, using conventional breeding techniques that select for superior root traits.

His work on new varieties of corn is less advanced. But Lynch has published a paper that identified a previously unrecognized trait that improved yields eight times in experimental corn lines grown under drought conditions.

A key component in raising American corn yields in recent decades, nitrogen fertilizer, is more expensive in Africa than in the United States, Lynch says. In addition, as it runs off fields it can contaminate water supplies and produce nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

While Lynch employs traditional cross-breeding methods, genetically modified (GM) crops seem likely to play an important role in the second Green Revolution. Concerns about safety and unexpected consequences have led to a slow rate of adoption in Europe and parts of Africa, although GM crops are already widely planted and consumed in the US.

"There's incredible debate over to what extent you can achieve these productivity goals without [GM crops]," says Mark Rosegrant, an economist at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

GM crops will be an "essential" part of increasing yields in Africa, says Calestous Juma, a professor of international development at Harvard University and the director of the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "In the medium to long run, genetic engineering is going to become inevitable," he says.

An important test case may come in the form of a new GM crop, a drought-tolerant corn variety being developed by the Monsanto Company for use in the US. But while Mr. Rosegrant sees GM crops as an "important" part of the solution, he adds, "there has to be a lot of mainstream crop breeding as well, not just one or the other."

GM or not, new crop varieties are just one part of the equation in Africa, Dr. Juma says. Also important are factors like developing road networks so that farmers have a faster way to bring crops to market. Farmers equipped with cellphones can check on market prices, receive weather forecasts, or even learn about new seeds or farming techniques.

For models of self-sufficiency, Juma points to Malawi and China. Malawi, a small landlocked country in Africa and one of the continent's poorest nations, has helped its farmers become more productive by building roads and introducing new farming techniques. The president, Bingu wa Mutharika, appointed himself minister of agriculture in order to ensure that food production would be a top government priority and that government ministries would work in concert, Juma says.

"There's absolutely no reason why other African countries can't do it" too, he says. In January, Mr. Mutharika was appointed chairman of the African Union, representing 53 countries. His slogan: "Feeding Africa through new technologies."

China's dramatic turnaround from being a food importer to having the ability to essentially feed itself is also "going to continue to be very instructive for African countries," Juma says.

The key to China's dramatic improvement has been investment in research and training, says Mark Alley, a professor of agriculture at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg and past president of the American Society of Agronomy. But in their all-out drive to increase production, the Chinese have also "created some problems," he says. "They've pumped some aquifers dry in the north China plain, for example."

As the world steps up production, "We have to protect the water and air quality. And we have to produce safe and nutritious food," Dr. Alley says. Keeping a large portion of the Earth's surface under cultivation is not an option. "The alternative is that we starve. And that's not an alternative," he says. So better yields and sustainable practices must go hand in hand.

Alley remains optimistic that new technologies and techniques will meet the situation. In the US in the early 1900s, he points out, an acre of corn yielded about 25 bushels. Last year, an acre of corn produced an average of 162 bushels.

But sending surplus US grain to places like Africa, while an immediate help, does nothing to make Africans more self-sufficient. As the Chinese proverb puts it, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

The nice thing about improving seeds: They can be sent to a place like Africa and "nothing else has to happen," Lynch says. Farmers don't need specialized training in how to use them or need to apply more water or fertilizer to get better results.

"In Mozambique, where we work, 70 percent of the population are subsistence farmers" earning less than $1 a day, Lynch says. "They live in mud huts. They don't have shoes. They don't know how to read and write. They rarely see outsiders or get help from their own government. Many don't even live near a road. They live on what they plant in the ground and eat.

"So if we can improve their yield 10 or 20 percent with better seed," he says, "maybe they can feed their kids more, maybe they can even sell some of their crop and begin to climb out of this poverty trap."e

==================

What is an Appropriate Technology?

- Sara Delaney , Food Security Blog, March 26, 2010 http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/

At the launch of the book Science and Innovation for Development on 19 January, co-author Sir Gordon Conway said: “It doesn’t matter where the technology comes from, it matters that it is appropriate.”

Too often international development researchers, policy makers and practitioners get caught up in the source of a technology, and use this as the metric for whether it will be successful. The way a technology is designed, the country it comes from, the type of institution that produced it – while all important considerations – are not as important as whether the product is appropriate.

An appropriate technology is accessible, affordable, easy-to-use and maintain, effective – and most importantly it serves a real need.

For example, a rice seed that has been bred or engineered to mature faster can be appropriate anywhere the variety thrives. Local farmers have a need for such characteristics, regardless of whether the seed comes from local efforts or from global centres like the International Rice Research Institute.

Many scientists and policy makers in developed countries also often hold on to the idea that you can’t apply different types of technology to the same problem. In fact, this is often exactly what is needed.

For example, for farmers in drought-prone areas to deal with persistent and increasing water shortages they need solutions which draw from the full range of scientific innovation. These can include ‘traditional’ water conservation techniques and planting methods such as the ‘zai’ system in West Africa, where farmers use small holes filled with manure and the extensive underground termite tunnels that result, to both capture water and recycle soil nutrients.

Then there are ‘intermediate’ technologies such as drip irrigation, where plastic tubing is used to apply small amounts of water to each individual plant, and ‘new platform’ technologies such as cereal varieties that are genetically modified to survive, and even prosper, in drought conditions.

Farmers should have access to all types of solutions – so they can pick and choose the best combination for their own field, and adapt and innovate as conditions change.

I came across a telling example of the strong bias which some hold for particular sources of technology at a recent plant biotechnology conference. A number of presenters at the event introduced the methods they had been working on to control weeds, in particular the parasitic weed Striga.

On one side was the biological systems approach: intercropping enemies of the weed with the maize crop with plants that suppress Striga. The other side advocated a technological solution: breeding resistance to the herbicide that kills the weed into the maize seeds themselves, so that the seeds can be dipped into the herbicide. The treated maize seeds kill the parasitic seeds in the ground, allowing the maize to grow and the environmental impact to be minimised.

Both systems have drawbacks – more labour and local knowledge needed for biological control, and higher research costs and risk of resistance developing for the seed modification approach.

So why not use both? Why not work together? Instead I saw the two sides actively arguing. Then when another presenter introduced the idea of increasing the use of conventional herbicides in Africa it was met with immediate derision, partly due to the source of the herbicides (US manufacturers). Most did not consider the fact that, if applied in an educated and selective manner, conventional herbicides may be a great tool for poor farmers.

But this may be changing. As Science and Innovation for Development’s other co-author Jeff Waage stated in the book: “Between the extremes of a technological ‘silver bullet’ approach to development science, and the belief that local and intermediate technologies are the only legitimate approach, there is emerging today a new community of scientists dedicated to an inclusive view of appropriate science for development”.
-----

Sara Delaney joined Imperial College in July 2009 to work on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project ‘Africa and Europe: Partnerships in Food and Farming’. She is assisting Gordon Conway with the writing of a second edition of his 1999 book The Doubly Green Revolution.

============

Bt Brinjal Row In India Catches S-E Asian Farmers' Attention

- Vishwa Mohan , Times of India, April 4, 2010 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

MANILA (PHILIPPINES): The moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal in India, which has led to a controversy over genetically modified (GM) food crops in the country, has caught farmers' attention across south-east Asian countries none where of which, except the Philippines, has so far gone in favour of such crops.

Taking keen interest in the controversy surrounding Bt brinjal in India, farmer and scientists from these countries assembled here under the Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange Programme discussed bio-safety, environmental and toxicity implications as well as food security aspect of the GM crops last week.

Though experts from Philippines pitched for GM crops stating how it has been quite successful in the commercial cultivation of Bt corn, the other countries of the region -- Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia -- treaded cautiously, waiting for results of the field trials and other scientific tests back home.

The representatives also wondered why there has been a `moratorium' in India despite the government's regulator there -- the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee -- giving the go-ahead to the commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal.

Although the Indian representatives -- B Rama Rao and Rajkumar Singh Hajari from a non-governmental organization Bharat Krishek Samaj -- expressed their willingness to cultivate GM food crops provided they are safe, they narrated the differences within the Indian government over food safety and environmental issues. They pointed to the debate over presence of toxin in Bt brinjal during farmers' interactions at the exchange programme, organized jointly by the Biotechnolgy Coalition of the Philippines and the CropLife Asia.

Trying to dispel certain doubts from their minds, Nina Gloriani of the University of Philippines said that the Bt gene breaks down during digestion into common amino acids, which are part of the normal diet and are neither toxic nor allergic.

Similarly, other scientists including Antonio Alfonso of the Philippine Rice Research Institute and Parminder Virk and Partha Sarathi Biswas of the International Rice Research Institute too spoke in favour of GM crops citing results of scientific trials in different countries. They also spoke at length about the ongoing Golden Rice Project -- which is aimed at not only to increasing the yield but also producing a modified rice having more nutritional value.

Virk said the Golden Rice offered a practical biotech crop remedy that would provide cost-effective and efficient protection against Vitamin A deficiency. He gave an example of tribal belts in Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand (in India) where poor people had to live mainly on rice which in itself does not provide wholesome nutrition. He said: "The Golden Rice will be an answer to this problem in India and other developing countries."

=======

GMO Asynchronous and Asymmetric approvals: bringing lasting solutions to identified problems

CEN and ENEA, March 18-19,2010, Brussels http://www.bruxelles.enea.it/Eventi/GMORES2010.html

The 18th and 19th March 2010, the workshop "GMO Asynchronous and Asymmetric approvals: bringing lasting solutions to identified problems" was organized by CEN (European Committee for Standardization) and ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) in Brussels.

The workshop represented an important step towards the objective of bringing together all the stakeholders and increasing the efforts on the harmonization of technical methodologies and authorization procedures regulating GM crops in Europe.

During the first part of the workshop, the Asynchronous Approval issue in the global context of GM crops, was illustrated in detail by 20 European speakers representing Research Centres and Academics, Reference Laboratories, Regulatory Bodies, European Commission and the Food and Feed Chain Stakeholders. Approximately 50 external attendants representing Ministries of Environment and Public Health, Food and Feed Federations and Associations, SMEs, Research Centres, Universities, Food Safety Authorities and others from various European countries actively participated in the event.

Broader aspects of the issue regarding the legal uncertainty linked to the Low Level Presence and Zero-Tolerance characterizing European Policy in the international trade context were addressed in depth, as were the Rapid Alert systems recently put in place in some European countries. The need for the implementation of a "technical solution" to limit the supply disruptions and adverse economic impacts emerged unanimously both in the Food and for the Feed production system.

During the open roundtable on the second day, a representative of the European Commission provided different elements that are currently considered for the "technical solution" that is under development by the Commission. These elements were discussed among all participants.

This workshop has given the opportunity to open a dialogue on common interests, and more meetings of this type were requested by all the attendants in order to strengthen future substantial and durable collaborations.

=============

Science and Innovation for Development

- New book by Gordon Conway and Jeff Waage with Sara Delaney. Order or download from http://www.ukcds.org.uk

Conway and Waage take on the topic of the crucial role that science can play in the challenge of poverty reduction – with science acting as lever for change through both research and knowledge generation for policy guidance, and the development of innovative and appropriate technologies.

The authors make the following five key recommendations to policy makers and development practitioners:

* Train and empower scientists;
* Strengthen science innovation systems in developing countries;
* Ensure that new technologies are accessible to science for development;
* Design and deliver research for impact;
* Raise the profile of science in governments.

Science and Innovation for Development looks at the importance of national scientific capacity, the different sources from which new science and technologies can be drawn, and the ever-expanding role of partnerships between stakeholders.

The book uses the Millennium Development Goals as a framework, pulling out three key topics for which science plays an important role – reducing hunger, improving health, and achieving environmental sustainability. The authors highlight the current challenges in each area, look at how scientific innovation has helped thus far, and consider in what areas further research or new, improved technologies are needed. These ideas are illustrated through a broad range of case studies from across the developing world.

For example, in the chapter on hunger, Conway and Waage argue that science for sustainable agriculture needs to focus on five broad needs:

1. New crop varieties (and livestock breeds) that are more productive and of better nutritional quality;
2. Improved soil fertility and crops and livestock better able to use existing nutrients;
3. Maximising water use;
4. Better pest, disease and weed control without environmental damage;
5. Cropping and livestock systems that combine these qualities in ways that bring benefits to both small and large farmers.

They emphasise that solutions for these needs should be drawn from the full range of sources for innovation, including conventional, traditional, intermediate and new platform technologies. Finally, the authors explore the challenge of climate change, looking both what we do and do not know and how science can help to inform policy and make mitigation and adaptation possible.

=========================

Not A Nice Trait to Have

- Latha Jishnu, Business Standard (India), April 1, 2010

Not all state governments have been kind to the global seed giant Monsanto. And cotton farmers have been less than grateful for the genetically modified (GM) technology that is said to have changed their fortunes dramatically. Since it launched its genetically modified Bt cotton in 2002, the company has been fighting a number of state governments over the prices it charges for its Bt cotton brands, Bollgard and Bollgard II, the first a single-gene technology that heralded the entry of GM crops in the country and latter a two-protein technology introduced in 2006.

The most troublesome has been Andhra Pradesh which, in 2006, was the first to challenge in the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) the high price that Monsanto was charging for its Bt cotton seeds. At that time, Bollgard was selling at Rs 1,800 for a packet of 425 gm (plus 125 gm of refugia), a price that the state government described as exorbitant and unjustified after a leading farmers’ association protested against the jacked-up prices. The high price was on account of the royalty or trait fee — so called because of the protein trait in the GM cotton — that accounted for as much as two-thirds of the cost at Rs 1,200 per packet.

Much to the shock of Monsanto and its Indian arms, the nearly moribund MRTPC came to life and declared that the price was indeed, too high and asked the company’s India distributors to keep the prices on par with those prevailing in China. Bollgard brands are marketed by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited (MMB), a 50:50 partnership between the US multinational’s wholly-owned India arm, Monsanto Holdings Private Limited (MHPL), and the Jalna-based Mahyco, a seed company in which Monsanto also holds 26 per cent equity. Now that may seem like too much detail here but it is important to understand how the technology part is handled by the biotech behemoth.

MMB promptly challenged this decision in the Supreme Court contending that MRTPC had no jurisdiction on prices but only in preventing unfair trade practices. But by then, the AP’s commissioner of agriculture had brought down prices dramatically in stages to Rs 750 per packet — thereby reducing the trait fee to Rs 150. It is an open secret that Indian partners of Monsanto companies were behind the campaign to get trait fees reduced because it was reducing their margins. Their gripe was that they were also paying an upfront royalty fee of Rs 50 lakh each for the Bt technology as part of their licensing contract.

MMB did not get much comfort from the Supreme Court — not on the agriculture commissioner’s order, or on the MRTPC’s directive. The court did, however, say that the company could approach it if the costs were not covered. Following Andhra Pradesh’s success in getting prices slashed, several other governments followed suit, using the Essential Commodities Act (ESA) to fix rates at a much lower rate. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra did manage to bring down the price of Bollgard seeds but were challenged by MMB. It managed to win against Madhya Pradesh because the government had failed to enact a law that would have enabled it to fix prices.

Now the prices of the two brands have come down further and in 2009 kharif, the prices ranged between Rs 650 and Rs 750 for Bollgard and Rs 750-925 per packet for Bollgard II. And how much of this goes towards trait fees? Monsanto is not telling. A company spokesman says that under its contractual obligations, it cannot share “competitive information such as royalty fees”. But quoting from a report of the International Cotton Advisory Council (ICAC) Report 2009, it claims the technology fee charged in India is the lowest in the world.

That claim needs to be validated. According to seed industry sources, the trait fee charged in the southern states — the governments of Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana allowed higher rates — is close to Rs 100 for Bollgard and around Rs 180 for Bollgard II. But with companies now clamouring for an increase in seed prices, this could change in coming days. MMB has, therefore, moved swiftly to pre-empt the Andhra government from doing a replay of 2006. Last week, it filed an appeal in the AP High Court asking it to restrain the state government from determining or interfering with the trait value it charges. That was clearly a pre-emptive measure since there has been talk that the government intends to ensure higher margins for seed companies by bring down trait fees further.

MMB contends that its licence agreement with seed companies is a private one and that the government has no role in regulating the royalty. MMB is bolstering its argument with a new weapon — a patent that it holds in India for its Bt technology. The patent, granted in 2008, will run till 2019. Will this have any bearing on the case? What is certain is that the court’s response will have significant consequences for the Indian farmer and Indian agriculture in general.

====================

Eco-romanticists in India - 'gifted communicators' defeating the fundamentals of reason '

- Mugdha Karnik

Dear Dr. Prakash,

I feel very concerned about this whole scenario--not only in the field of bio-technology - so many other fields of scientific enquiry and technological developments which have a great potential for bringing through human progress and welfare, are hurt by people who have the gift of the gab- gifted communicators who can maneuver the collective consciousness.

Here in India too, we have a battalions of spiritualists who constantly vilify all sorts of material progress, eco-romanticists who make people think by opposing development, energy projects, nuclear energy projects, bio-technology they are doing a great altruistic work. So many young people are taken by this kind of romanticism.

Most of our social scientists are quite away from the scientific theories in the realm of physical sciences, are happy to be with either the rightist spiritualists or leftist romanticists. It is ridiculous-- all of them want cushy jobs which would give them their cars and mobiles, air conditioners and foreign scotch-whisky supplies--no harm-- but they don't want the 'cement jungles', 'monstrous power projects'. They want the effect without the cause. They want riches without the industrious effort.

I see around me, we don't have a single gifted communicator, who would communicate truth and science to the collective consciousness. News-letters like yours or Prof. John McCarthy's or many such voices on the net or scientific journals DO NOT reach our people. This is one problem we should address.

The other kind's voice is so strong- it is noise, not voice. The small voice of reason is drowned to the deep abyss--

These 'gifted communicators' take advantage of science and technology to defeat the fundamentals of reason ,of which science and technology are products. I feel lost--

I am doing my bit for last twenty years in rural Konkan-Maharashtra. They simply shun my sci-ed programmes. All they want is historical or spiritual rhetorics. Or something that will glorify their simple wretched lives.

I feel lost--

Mugdha Karnik
University of Mumbai (India)
Director, Centre for ExtraMural Studies
An Outreach Programme for Science Education and Rationality

========================

EuropaBio's New Director for Agricultural Biotechnology - Carel du Marchie Sarvaas

Brussels, 25 March, 2010

On 1 April Carel du Marchie Sarvaas will begin work with EuropaBio as Director for Agricultural Biotechnology. Du Marchie Sarvaas, a Dutch national, brings with him many years of experience as a senior public affairs and communications advisor in Brussels, The Hague, and Washington DC. He takes over from Morten Nielsen, who has successfully led the Agricultural Biotech team since September last year.

"Carel has a thorough knowledge of the sector" commented incoming Secretary General, Nathalie Moll. "He has an in-depth understanding of the benefits of agricultural biotech and of its potential in the context of the environmental, food and energy security challenges that we face today. We are delighted that our agricultural biotech team will be led by such a seasoned and well respected professional". EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries

=============================

CropWorld

- London (UK), November 1-3, 2010 http://www.crop-world.com

Formerly know as the BCPC Congress, this is the only event of its kind in the world to embrace all aspects of crop production and will use the combined experience of internationally-recognised experts to deliver a top-quality, content-rich conference programme, which will feature leading speakers from around the world and address a wide range of issues. Global food security, climate change, environmental and regulatory factors affecting crop production, the future for GM crops, agrochemicals, fertilisers, seeds and crop nutrients, water utilisation and irrigation are just some of the topics which will be addressed.

========

'World Agriculture'- New Journal

http://www.world-agriculture.net

"The two big issues facing mankind on planet earth today are Food Security and Climate Change"

World Agriculture, a peer-reviewed, completely independent, non-profit, journal, will explore scientific, economic and social evidence concerning agriculture and its interaction with forestry, climate change, population growth, migration, disease and ecology.

* What should the EU and the USA do about agricultural subsidies that could harm agricultural production in developing countries? * How should agricultural productivity of developing countries best be helped when many are likely to be affected by climate change to a much greater extent than is the productivity of temperate regions? * Do biofuels have a role in improving the world's carbon balance? * World agricultural output has increased by approximately 30 % during the past 60 years with a massive increase in the use of fossil fuels. With an expected increase in world population to 9.1 billion over the next few decades, how can the necessary increase in agricultural production be achieved without increasing fossil fuel use, whilst maintaining forests and an adequate natural ecological balance? * What are appropriate ways for agro-forestry to improve the world's carbon balance without affecting adequate food production to meet this increasing population? * Are there valid reasons for the EU's reluctance to permit GM products? What are the advantages of GM foods and those of 'organic 'foods?' For further information- editor@world-agriculture.net

======

The Public Understanding of Science in Africa: Call for Papers

- Nairobi, Kenya, September 22-24, 2010 via http://www.scidev.net

A workshop to be held at the British Institute of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, 22-24th September 2010
Organised by the Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, UK (supported by the Leverhulme Trust and Isaac Newton Trust, Cambridge) Together with the British Institute of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Anthropologies of African Biosciences Group

With the spread of mobile and Internet technology, the expansion of medical research sites, the development of genetically modified crops, the growing food crisis, the threat of global warming, and the challenges of particular diseases and health care, the question of how science engages publics is becoming increasingly important in Africa, as elsewhere. The workshop will bring together researchers, academics, journalists, policy makers, and those working in science education to discuss public engagement with science, and the engagement of publics by science in Africa, in scientific controversies, and through various scientific projects – environmental, medical or technological.

Policy makers often assume that 'the public' lacks knowledge of science, and that its members are irrational, anti-scientific, and in need of education. More recently there has been a move to understanding the public as more differentiated and more capable of engaging with science. However, such moves continue to conceive as the public  as lay citizenry separate from scientists and policymakers. Science does not necessarily engage with a freestanding public, but also creates certain publics; while some publics emerge through relations with science. Thus a public may be a group of people that forms around a particular issue, for example, a conservation project, a health issue, or an issue of access to particular resources. Science gains legitimacy through public engagement, but what is the nature of this engagement, and what ethical issues arise?

The workshop will discuss the following questions: What debates are African publics engaging in, in relation to science and policy-making and scientific debates? How is science in Africa engaging with publics, whom do these publics consist of and how are they conceived? Are particular publics emerging in relation to scientific issues? What do public engagements with science in Africa tell us about opportunities for participation in decision-making, policy and public debates? What relationships exist between the various publics involved and various actors, from the state to international scientific research groups, pharmaceutical companies, NGOs and UN agencies? What do these reveal about the meanings of citizenship and the development of networks of concerned actors in relation to scientific issues, as well as the ability of particular communities to shape or affect scientific policies that concern their livelihoods?

African Science Heroes Blog " Promoting African engagement with science"
http://afrisciheroes.wordpress.com

Please contact Mrs Dorian Addison at the Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge conference@african.cam.ac.uk