Group trains Nigerian journalists on “gene drives” controversies

Tosin Omoniyi,  Premium Times,  2024.

The Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) held a training for Nigerian journalists on the controversies surrounding the ‘gene drives’ research organisations that allegedly target Africans as “guinea pigs.” The training, the organisers said, was aimed at equipping journalists to understand the issues and be able to report the controversies robustly. The Executive Director of RDI, Philip Jakpor, in his opening remarks, said in conceiving the training, the organisation realised that the media is key not only in keeping the public informed but also in “exposing and interrogating initiatives and innovations that are extraneous to Africans and African culture as part of its watchdog role”.

Gene drive is a technology that allows a chosen set of genes to alter an animal’s biology in certain ways, such as making them produce sterile offspring. The inability to reproduce then sweeps through a population, upending the “laws of inheritance.” Specifically, the genes copy themselves exponentially from generation to generation, rapidly coming to dominate the whole population. Potentially, scientists argue that their careful use might save millions of lives by making, for instance, mosquitoes unable to transmit malaria or by eliminating the insects entirely. The possibility of a definitive solution to major infectious diseases makes a compelling case for such a technology.

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