Last updated: 29 june, 2009 - 12:00 GMT

28/06/2009 - The Forum

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Meet the guests

Africa’s first female Nobel Laureate, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, explains why she believes African leaders should encourage the uptake of old traditional farming methods and land management in their pursuit of renewed prosperity. She highlights the potential role of rural women in such a transformation not least by planting trees through The Green Belt movement set up by Wangari herself to halt the environmental degradation of the land.

Following on from the success of the Human Genome Project, the American geneticist Jane Peterson talks of the new challenge to decode the genetic sequences of the bacteria inside us all. The Human Microbiome Project, initiated and led by Jane is now well underway. Focusing on five main areas of the body, she reveals how we have billions of different microbial colonies living within us and disruptions to these may trigger various diseases.

Former Yugoslav novelist Dubravka Ugresic, in her latest novel, uses the hideous mythical Slavic witch, Baba Yaga, to contemplate contemporary society’s ageing female population. Though old women can seem invisible, like Baba Yaga, they may turn out to be a more formidable force than we realise.

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