E-matchmaking is the latest profession for marriages

Updated 12 August 2013
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E-matchmaking is the latest profession for marriages

Khattaba is the Arabic word for a woman marriage match-maker whose job is to bring two people together who want to get married. She is the link between those two people, starting with introductions with the intent of reaching a final agreement.
Prospective grooms are largely responsible for paying for the service. And like most professionals, Khattabas can be sought through social networking websites.
Umm Mohammad is a popular marriage match-maker who has gained the confidence of many prospective brides and groom.
“Because we live in a conservative society, it doesn’t mean we don’t understand the requirements of our young people,” Mohammad said. “And that’s why I have entered this profession.
She said she approaches each potential couple with marriage applications to be filled out. If there is a potential match, the two individuals are introduced to each other and they decide on the marriage. At this point families of the bride and groom get involved.
Mohammad said she opened a Facebook account to further her profession.
“In reality, I can hardly switch on the computer and I was fearful at first when my daughter suggested this it,” she said. “My daughter started to teach me the basics of my account on Facebook, and it’s been three years since I have been dealing with this technology under her supervision.”
She added: “There is less pressure because I don’t need to go outside of the house as it was before and I receive everything on e-mail.”
She said she receives the personal data of the parties wishing for a spouse.
“I don’t think using such social media networking requires a great deal of effort or in being clever to get as much friends and followers as possible,” she said.
Mohammad noted that through social media Through platforms, professional matchmakers are “building a virtual self where messages can be received from both parties specifying exact information about them and what they are looking for in an ideal marriage partner.”
Sa’dah Al-Bashri, a traditional matchmaker, refuses to enter the virtual world. She said it will cause people to lose confidence in the profession and its practitioners. It also will lead to reduced fees for matchmakers.
“Our reputation and contacts are our investment,” Al-Bashri said. “Not all website users are perfect clients. It is better to go directly to the parents of young men and women. If young people are serious about a commitment they wouldn’t use these websites.”
Traditional matchmaking is much easier because enables the matchmaker to describe prospective brides or grooms in detail, which gives the process credibility.
“E-matchmaking is harming the reputation of our profession, and we lost many clients who joined these websites,” Al-Bashri said.
Fees depend on marriages and the social standing of the couple. But the cost to the prospective groom not less than SR 500 as a starting price.
Al-Bashri said websites are not safe, and she prefers the traditional way because it is much more confidential.
Al Anood, member of a Facebook group, doesn’t see any harm in dealing with matchmakers, whether they are traditional or modern, as long as they maintain privacy.
Matchmakers help young men, even though many people reject them. One of her relatives had an unsuccessful experience with e-matchmaking, but there are many successful marriages, she said.
The important thing is to know the suitable matchmaker and the realistic and reasonable qualities of one’s partner.


Battle lines drawn as EU court weighs fate of gene-edited crops

Updated 20 July 2018
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Battle lines drawn as EU court weighs fate of gene-edited crops

  • The European Union has long restricted the use of genetically modified organisms widely adopted around the world
  • The first wave of gene-edited crops may involve removing harmful elements from food
LONDON: Gene editing in agriculture takes center stage next Wednesday when Europe’s highest court rules in a case that could determine the fate of the technology that is already making waves in the field of medicine.
The European Union has long restricted the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) widely adopted around the world, but there is legal uncertainty as to whether modern gene editing of crops should fall under the same strict GMO rules.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule whether the use of genetic mutation, or mutagenesis, which is now exempt from GMO rules, should differentiate between techniques that have been used for decades and the new gene-editing technology.
The biotech industry argues that much of gene editing is effectively little different to the mutagenesis that occurs naturally or is induced by radiation — a standard plant breeding method since the 1950s.
But environmentalists, anti-GM groups and farmers concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of all genetically engineered products fear that allowing gene editing would usher in a new era of “GMO 2.0” via the backdoor.
Gene editing with the CRISPR/Cas9 tool and other techniques has the potential to make hardier and more nutritious crops — as well as offering drug companies new ways to fight human disease.
US biotech firm Calyxt, for example, has gene edited soybeans to produce healthier oil with no trans fats and it is growing 17,000 acres of its new design across the US Midwest this year.
Big agrochemical specialists such as Germany’s Bayer and US firm DowDuPont are also stepping up investment in the technology.
The case before the ECJ was brought by a group of French agricultural associations that want the existing EU exemption for plant varieties obtained via mutagenesis to be restricted to long-standing conventional techniques.
While older GMO technology typically adds new DNA to a crop or animal, gene editing can cause a mutation by changing a few pieces of DNA code. It works with great speed and precision, like the find-and-replace function on a word processor.
“Anything you can do by standard mutagenesis you can do 10 or maybe 50 times quicker,” said Johnathan Napier, who is leading a trial at Rothamsted Research which has involved the sowing of the first gene-edited crops in Britain.
He said the first wave of gene-edited crops may involve removing harmful elements from food, such as developing peanuts without peanut allergens or castor bean oil without ricin toxin.
But critics say the technology is not yet proven safe — an argument that may have gained weight this week after research suggested gene editing can cause risky collateral DNA damage.
So far, the signs are that the court may lean toward the biotech industry’s view. ECJ advocate general Michal Bobek advised in January that organisms could be exempt from GMO rules if they did not have added foreign DNA.
The advocate general’s view is not binding but is usually followed by ECJ judges.
John Brennan, secretary general of the biotech industry group EuropaBio, believes gene-edited crops will bring consumer and environmental benefits, as well as keeping Europe at the forefront of a technology important for jobs and growth.
“A clearer regulatory status is essential for communicating and understanding the opportunities that these tools and products present,” he said.
The first wave of gene-edited crops involves removing potentially harmful elements, such as the allergens in peanuts or ricin toxin in castor bean oil, said Napier at Rothmsted.
Environmental groups see things very differently.
“We’re talking about genetic engineering and that should be regulated under GMO law,” said Franziska Achterberg of Greenpeace.
Friends of the Earth, which helped bring the original case in France, contends that failure to regulate gene editing could cause permanent damage to Europe’s food sector.
Some retail groups that have been working to produce and market non-GMO food have also expressed concern.
Currently, strict rules mean only one GM crop, a variety of maize, is grown in Europe and while the EU allows the import of others they are exclusively used as animal feed.