Plant biotechnology under the spotlight at Wits Inaugural Lecture

ACGT contributor, Prof Chrissie Rey of Wits University presented her Inaugural Lecture titled Plant Biotechnology: key to future food security in Africa on 19 October 2009. Representing the University’s School of Molecular and Cell Biology, Prof Rey’s talk focused on the background, promise and impact of biotechnology with a particular focus on cassava.

Plant Biotechnology offers innovative genetic solutions to improving food crops, in particular for resource-poor people on the sub-Saharan African continent. In 2003, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute championed the humble cassava as the key to future food security in Africa.

Professor Rey runs the Cassava Biotechnology Programme, which undertakes research to improve cassava germplasm with regards to resistance to Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). She is working in conjunction with Mozambique in developing cassava for the southern African region, and building capacity for cassava transformation.