Olivia Muchena, Zimbabwe's Minister of State for Science and Technology Development, opened the meeting underscoring that biotechnology is a very contentious issue.
Noting that there are serious rifts over the economic, social and ecological value and costs of genetic engineering, and that proponents of the technology have often over exaggerated its benefits, she
said that "statements such as 'GMOs will stop hunger in Africa' are not only misplaced but also provocative.Narrowing the cause of hunger to the absence of one technology is really missing the point."She
stressed that "sound policies and not charity will determine whether the new biotechnologies will be a tool for human development in Southern Africa."She
invited participants to "think strategically, and act collectively as Africans to defend our resources, develop our capacity to feed ourselves, and maintain our dignity as we shape our future."