Biotech Updates

Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication Symposium (ABBC 2019)

June 13, 2019

What: Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication Symposium (ABBC 2019)
When: August 29-30, 2019
Where: Pretoria, South Africa

In the wake of advanced technologies, emerging genetic technologies such as genome editing are attracting a lot of attention as they enable faster, easier, cheaper and more precise changes to DNA. Genome editing holds great promise and is set to transform healthcare and agriculture sectors globally. Given the precision, affordability and potential offered for quick win, Africa stands to benefit most. The African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) has already identified advances in gene technology as key to fast-tracking Africa's development and transformation process. The continent's chance to benefit from these technologies lies heavily on its ability to efficiently regulate and communicate its potential and risks. However, genome editing is establishing itself in a world where perceptions about any form of induced genetic variations are highly influenced by the continuing emotion-based GMO-food debate. Although this technology poses tremendous scientific, medical, agricultural and business implications, communication approaches will either hamper or facilitate its uptake.

Conversations on how to govern genome editing are starting to gain momentum in the region and public engagement needs to keep pace with these rapid advancements, to avoid inheritance of restrictive regulatory regimes. Despite numerous investments in this frontier, stringent regulations not informed by credible science will thwart efforts to roll out products and limit market growth. Although several conferences have provided an international forum for scientists to discuss developments in genome editing, they have limited participation of African experts and rarely focus on the communication and regulatory aspects of this technology in the region. Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication Symposium, 2019 (ABBC2019), will provide a unique opportunity to address key components that will lay the foundation for uptake of genome editing in Africa. It will involve key African players who will play a role in steering the narrative and governance of the technology. ABBC 2019 will provide an Africa-based and African-led platform to interrogate best communication practices that will facilitate informed decision making on genome editing in the region.


  1. Interrogating the various regulatory options and implications for adoption and application of genome editing
  2. Optimizing use of traditional and digital media in communicating genome editing
  3. Sharing current and past experiences and identifying effective stakeholder engagement strategies on genome editing


  • Overview of the global policy and regulatory landscape
  • Framing the genome editing narrative
  • Addressing stakeholder complexity

Expected outcomes:

  • Informed policy and regulatory decision making on genome editing
  • Best practices to inform effective communication strategies for genome editing
  • Innovative public engagement strategies on genome editing
  • A virtual platform that tracks global progress on application and use of genome editing in agriculture


  • Keynote presentations by experts in the various topics
  • Experience sharing and case studies
  • In-depth group discussions
  • Policy dialogue
  • Science cafe


  • Scientists with specialization in genome editing
  • Science communication experts
  • Policy makers
  • Media practitioners with specific focus on editors
  • Technology developers and industry players
  • Regulators
  • Professional associations representing various end-users like farmers
Know more about the ABBC2019.