Science and Diplomacy come together at Fundación20/06/2008
The Sixth Workshop on Genetic Engineering for Opinion Leaders, organized and imparted by Fundación Ciencia para la Vida, and held on June 5-7, was addressed to Diplomatic Academy students to acquaint them the conceptual bases of Genetic Engineering and its application in Biotechnology.
Thanks to arrangements made by Ambassador Gabriel Rodríguez who heads the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Energy, Science and Technology and Innovation Directorate (Decyti in Spanish), for three days, 19 students wore white robes and experienced, among other things, how to sequence DNA in a gene and produce a transgenic organism, under the attentive supervision and support of Fundación’s prominent scientists.
Renowned scientists Bernardita Méndez and Pablo Valenzuela delivered the lectures that sparked exciting debates at Fundación’s Enrique Méndez Auditorium. There was consensus on the importance of driving science and technology development forward in Chile, and to do this, “government and private parties must work jointly, creating bonds, like at this workshop” noted Claudia San Martín, Diplomatic Academy student.
Gabriel Rodríguez stressed how important it is for 21st Century diplomats to be familiar with these issues since “they will participate, for example, in international negotiations or forums on transgenics and we need people who can properly address the matters that we are working on, so this has been a spectacular opportunity” he concluded.
For Diego Boriosi, Argentinean diplomat and student of Chile’s Diplomatic Academy, biotechnology development “is a world trend, governments and states are starting to realize that science and technology expansion is essential if they don’t want to miss the development train”.
Anders Alcayaga, Decyti diplomat, added that Biotechnology will be a core issue on the coming years’ agenda and “treaties will have to reach agreements about transgenic issues or perhaps molecular modifications will be necessary to change certain things”.
In the area of communications, Nicolás Luco, Science and Technology Editor of the El Mercurio newspaper, stressed that his experience in the laboratory inspired him to pursue further studies in the Biotechnology area, to introduce this new language in the media’s everyday discourse, and he praised the seriousness of this center of excellence “there is quality here, things are not done half-ways, and I believe it is of the outmost importance to open up the minds of humanists” he noted.
An aspect discussed was that Chile should commit to promoting scientific knowledge at schools, “teachers and researchers who work in these areas are called to motivate the thousands of Chilean children to acquire this knowledge; it is sowing the seeds of a better future” said Alcayata. “It would be good to start at the bases: schools, students, and teachers, and thus solve a structural problem, do away with the myths and the mystery that surrounds Biotechnology and genetic modification in Chile”, added Diego Araya, a student of Chile’s Diplomatic Academy who has a Bachelors Degree in History from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.