Biotech Updates

Fostering Innovation Key for a Healthy, Wealthy and Food-secure Commonwealth

April 25, 2018

Commonwealth countries must embrace innovations to address food, fuel, and health needs of her people. This was a clarion call by scientists and government representatives attending the Commonwealth Innovation Forum (TCIF), held in Queensland, Australia from April 5-6, 2018. 

The forum unanimously acknowledged innovation's role in delivering diversified and stronger global economic productivity. Echoing the message, Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat stressed that ideas and collaboration among different scientists and leaders are key to fostering innovations that can upscale the Commonwealth economy. "Innovation is not the stuff of laboratories, it requires us to listen to the needs of the people," he remarked. On the need and passion behind feeding the people of the world, Prof. Sagadeevan Mundree, Director, Center for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology decried the complexity of the issue, which he explained is very poorly understood. This was further emphasized by Professor James Dale through the long journey it has taken to deliver a GM banana variety through a collaboration with Ugandan scientists. "Agricultural biotechnology offers many benefits that can attract youth and make them part of the solution to food insecurity instead of being part of the problem," he observed.

ISAAA AfriCenter Director and chair of the African Women for Biosciences, Dr. Margaret Karembu, called upon member countries of the Commonwealth to encourage more women into biosciences saying they are the driving forces behind innovations in agriculture. "Given a favorable environment, women in biosciences can make major contributions towards transforming lives since they understand the problems of food availability, scarcity, and safety better in their daily decisions," she stressed. Dr. Karembu's sentiments come in the wake of UN report findings showing that women and girls face a myriad of challenges that result in persistent and sometimes growing gender gaps. The forum was concerned that these challenges will likely derail the progress towards innovations that address women needs.

The two-day event also explored the outcomes that create new therapeutic products and treatments for peoples of the Commonwealth. It also examined how renewable and environmentally responsible sources of fuel and products can drive the global supply chains.

For more on The Commonwealth Innovation Forum, contact the Convenor, Dr. Mario Pennisi, Chief Executive Officer, Life Sciences Queensland Limited at