SA researchers notably absent at biosafety launch

South African researchers have been criticised for not attending the launch of a pan-African gathering of biosafety experts.

The African Biological Safety Association (AfBSA) was launched earlier this year by Willy Kiprotich Tonui of the Kenya Medical Research Institute. The inaugural meeting in Nairobi was attended by 150 delegates from 28 African countries.

But, according to a commentary in the May/June edition of the open-access South African Journal of Science, there were no South Africans present.

The complaint came from South Africa-born Louise Bezuidenhout, who is based in the United Kingdom at the University of Exeter sociology department where she is doing a PhD on bioethics, security and international collaboration.

‘As one of the strongest nations on the African continent in the fields of scientific research, South African scientists are in a position to contribute significantly to the development of the AfBSA,” she said.

‘This society has the potential to create a strong network of support for biosafety and biosecurity issues in Africa.”

Such an association ‘will be beneficial in the further development of African life sciences research,” Bezuidenhout said.

‘It is therefore important for the South African science community to support such a valuable initiative.”

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