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Introducing Food for Africa: The life and work of a scientist in GM crops by Jennifer Thomson

Food for AfricaNew from UCT Press, Food for Africa: The life and work of a scientist in GM crops by Jennifer Thomson:

She has addressed the world’s leaders at the UN. She has sat in the hot seat at the World Economic Forum in Davos persuading economists that genetically modified food is the answer to food security in Africa. She has faced vitriolic activists on television and explained the facts and fallacies of genetic engineering. And she has won the L’Oreal Women in Science in Africa award.

So how did someone who thought she would choose the career of a teacher end up as a microbiologist in a very male-dominated arena and become one of the world’s leading scientific advisors? In Food for Africa, Jennifer Thomson traces through anecdote and science the development of a hotly contended area of research, from the dawn of genetic engineering in the USA in 1974, through the early stages of its uptake in South Africa to the current situation in which approximately 80% of maize in South Africa is genetically modified for drought resistance.

Through her own story of how she came to choose GM as a career and her path-breaking involvement in the development of GM research, she describes the spread of this technology into other parts of Africa and her venture into unknown territory to develop crops resistant to drought, insects and viruses, a journey in which she came up against the multinational Monsanto.

The book describes a remarkable personal and scientific evolution and looks to a future in which staple crops may be grown in difficult conditions by smallholder farmers and help Africans achieve food security.

About the author

Professor Jennifer Thomson is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town and was Head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Cape Town from 1988 to 2000. She won the L’Oreal/UNESCO prize for Women in Science for Africa in 2004 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Sorbonne University, Paris, in 2005. Her main research interests are the development of maize resistant to maize streak virus and tolerant to drought. Her books include Genes for Africa: Genetically modified crops in the developing world (UCT Press, 2002) and Seeds for the Future: The impact of genetically modified crops on the environment (Cornell University Press and CSIR Press, 2006).

Book details


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