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05 June 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer
Louzanne Coetzee
Athlete Louzanne Coetzee with the trophy of the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled as Sports Star of the Year.

Although challenging, very exciting and a new journey, says Louzanne Coetzee about the athletics year for which she has been recognised.

The 26-year-old, who is doing her master’s in Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, won the Free State Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD) Sports Star of the Year award for a fourth consecutive time. This was for the period June 2018 to April 2019.

In that time, she set a world record, an Africa record, and ran two marathons in which she came amazingly close to a second world record.

Only in her second marathon at the Berlin Marathon in September, the Paralympian fell 26 seconds short of the T11 (totally blind) world record time. She met the qualifying time for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo during the London Marathon in April.

“Marathons are definitely challenging and a new field for me, but I would say it has been a good 12 months. My aim is now set on next year’s Paralympic Games, where I would like to compete in the marathon and the 1 500 m.”

“I hope to run a good time in the 1 500 m at the World Para Athletics Championships in November.”

At the SASAPD National Championships for physically disabled and visually impaired athletes in April 2019, Coetzee won three gold medals and set a record in the 1 500 m. 

Others from the UFS also honoured

Coetzee has received several awards in her career, but says it is always special to be rewarded by her own federation (FSSAPD). 

Danie Breitenbach (T11) was also honoured as the Senior Male Sports Star. He bagged two gold medals and one silver and set a SA record in both the 800 m and 1 500 m at the nationals. Another Kovsie, Dineo Mokhosoa (F36 – coordination impairments), received a merit award for her gold medal in shot-put and silver in the discus at the national champs.

News Archive

UFS professor addresses genetically modified food in South Africa in inaugural lecture
2016-09-23

Description: Chris Viljoen inaugural lecture Tags: Chris Viljoen inaugural lecture

At the inaugural lecture were, from the left front,
Prof Lis Lange, Vice Rector: Academic;
Prof Chris Viljoen; Prof Gert van Zyl,
Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences; back: Prof Marius Coetzee,
Head of Department of Haematology and Cell Biology;
and Dr Lynette van der Merwe, Undergraduate
Programme Director.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The first genetically modified (GM) crops in South Africa were planted in 1998. Eighteen years later, the country is one of the largest producers of GM food in the world. Those in support of genetically modified crops say this process is the only way to feed a rapidly growing world population. But those who criticise GM food describe it as a threat to the environment and safety of the population. Who is right? According to Prof Chris Viljoen of the Department of Haematology and Cell Biology at the University of the Free State, neither position is well-founded.

GM crops play a vital role in food security

While GM crops have an important role to play in increasing food production, the technology is only part of the solution to providing sufficient food for a growing world population. The major genetically modified crops produced in the world include soybean, cotton, maize and canola. However, the authenticity of food labelling and the long-term safety of GM food are issues that consumers are concerned about.

Safety and labelling of GM food important in South Africa
In his inaugural lecture on the subject “Are you really going to eat that?” Prof Viljoen addressed the importance of the safety and labelling of GM food in the country. “In order for food to be sustainable, production needs to be economically and environmentally sustainable. On the other hand, food integrity, including food quality, authenticity and safety need to be ensured,” Prof Viljoen said. 

Labelling of food products for genetic modification was mandatory in South Africa, he went on to say. “It allows consumers the right of choice whether to eat genetically modified foods or not.” The Consumer Protection Act of 2008 requires food ingredients containing more than 5% of GM content to be labelled. 

GMO Testing Facility world leader in food diagnostic testing
In 1999, Prof Viljoen spearheaded research in developing a GM diagnostic testing platform, and in 2003, a commercial diagnostic platform for GM status certification, called the GMO Testing Facility, was founded. The facility is a licensed Eurofins GeneScan laboratory   a world leader in food diagnostic testing   and provides diagnostic detection and quantification of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in grain and processed foods for the local and international market.

Molecular diagnostic technology the future of food integrity, authenticity and safety
With GM labelling now well-established in South Africa, the next challenge is to establish the use of molecular diagnostic technology to ensure that food integrity, including food authenticity and safety is maintained, said Prof Viljoen.

“To the question ‘Are you really going to eat that?’ the answer is ‘yes’, but let’s continue doing research to make sure that what we eat is safe and authentic.”

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