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Nobel laureate biologist Sir Richard accuses anti-GMO lobbies of scaring people

  • Published at 09:44 pm March 9th, 2019
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English biologist Richard J. Roberts delivers a public lecture at North South University (NSU) campus on Friday, March 9, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Earlier Sir Richard explained the audience about modern GM techniques and lauded Bangladeshi scientists’ for their achievement in applying agro-biotech

Nobel laureate scientist Sir Richard J. Roberts has accused anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) groups of scaring people by portraying biotech products as dangerous. He said certain non-profit organizations (NPOs) are making money out of anti-GMO movement.  

A 1993 Nobel Prize winner in physiology, English biologist Richard J. Roberts made the comments while delivering a public lecture on “Emerging Public Health Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Countries” held at North South University (NSU) campus in the city yesterday.  

During the programme as NSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Atiqul Islam wanted to know probable impact of GMOs on public health, Richard J Roberts said, “Why we hear this? We hear this because of a movement that started in Europe and then spread into the USA and Japan. And it is a process that’s going on because certain non-profit organizations find it a good way to raise money and a good way to attack US agri-business.”English biologist Richard J. Roberts delivers a public lecture at North South University (NSU) campus on Friday, March 9, 2019 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka TribuneHe accused such NPOs of waging anti-GMO campaign by portraying biotech products as dangerous whereas, he said, they (the NPOs) could just say they didn’t like GMOs. 

Earlier Sir Richard explained the audience about modern GM techniques and lauded Bangladeshi scientists’ for their achievement in applying agro-biotech. He mentioned of Golden Rice as an example and said “Bangladeshi scientists produced some GMO varieties and some are in coming (in the market) this year. I think Bangladesh can take lead in this area.”   

In agro-biotech, genetic modification or genetic engineering techniques are applied to infuse extra traits in crops thereby, making them withstand different stress conditions, diseases and pests. 

In her speech, Prof. Rita R Colwell of the University of Maryland, who is also the president of the NSU’s international advisory board, said, “Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes can be identified now by the kinds of micro-organism that we have in our gut. They control how much foods get digested and transmitted into lipid, fats. So by controlling these micro organisms we can reduce the incidents and control diabetes. That is a potential in the future.”

Yesterday’s public lecture event was started with a presentation by NSU Pro-VC Prof. Dr. Gias U. Ahsan where he gave an overview of emerging public health challenges and opportunities in developing countries.

Prof. Anwar Huq of University of Maryland, USA, Prof. Shelley Feldman of Cornell University, USA, Prof. Haider A. Khan of University of Denver, USA, Prof. Taher Saif of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, Dr. Mohammad Ataul Karim of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA also delivered speeches at the programme. MA Kashem and Benajir Ahmed from the NSU board of trustee also spoke, among others. 

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