Experts say biotechnology can help achieve SDGs, address food insecurity


Experts say biotechnology can help achieve SDGs, address food insecurity 

As the world population is projected towards nine billion in 2050, biotechnologists say embracing biotechnological innovations can help to achieve the objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

They said this at the 2nd Recent Advances in Biotechnology Conference and Workshop (RAIB-2021) held at the Precious Cornerstone University, (PCU), Ibadan on Monday. 

Dr Charlse Adetunji, President, Nigeria Bioinformatics and Genomics Network, who in a keynote address, spoke on innovations for diverse global challenges using functional Bioinformatics approaches, especially during the COVID-19 era underscored the importance of Biotechnology for the future.

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Adetunji noted that innovations in bioinformatics, sustainable environment as well as circular economy are tools in realising SDGs and addressing the challenges of climate change. 

According to him, the world population would reach nine billion by 2050, quoting the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that agricultural production would have to increase by 60 per cent by then.

“Agriculture should undergo a significant transformation to feed the growing global population.

“Climate change adds extra challenges in reaching this goal especially in developing countries, where food insecurity and poverty are prevalent.” 

He also noted that the discovery of a new bioherbicide could assist farmers to prevent the usage of synthetic herbicides, which is one of the threats to food safety, ecosystem and human health.

Also speaking, Dr Su Shiung Lam, of the University of Malaysia, Terengganu, who spoke on the latest innovation of conversion of waste into value added products through the use of microwave vacuum pyrolysis said the process was very efficient and bio-friendly.

“Microwave vacuum pyrolysis treats waste plastic and uses cooking oil simultaneously. It provides high heating rate, short reaction time, low energy and high product yield,” he said.

Lam stated that the solution the world needed was in microwave pyrolysis and bacterial fermentation integrated into the bioplastic production system. 

“It converts commercial plastic waste to biofuel and bio-oil using microwave co-pyrolysis and then produces bioplastic through Bacterial Fermentation of bio-oil,” he said.

Lam, however, asked for more collaboration in research from scholars on waste and biomass among others.

Earlier in his address, the Vice Chancellor, PCU, Prof Kola Oloke, restated the role of biotechnology in reshaping an economy.

“There could be no better time to have this type of workshop, as we urgently need to get out of the devastation that COVID-19 has enforced into our ways of doing things,” he said.

Oloke, who is also a biotechnologist said: “at the commencement of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I was able to lead other scientists in different institutions  both in Nigeria and other places to construct two COVID-19 vaccines. 

“Our team is almost rounding off with animal trials of the two vaccines. Since clinical trials of the vaccines will require a lot of money, we urgently need investors who may be willing to join our team in making the vaccines a worthwhile project.”

The three days conference drew participants in Bioinformatics and Biotechnology fields from all over Nigeria and outside the country.

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