genetically modified crops

Africa has been reluctant in the past to adopt genetically modified food technology for crop production, but that’s changing, says Steven E. Cerier, a freelance international economist writing for the Genetic Literacy Project. Recent developments suggest that many African countries are prepared to overcome domestic and international opposition to GM technology, embracing it as a way of boosting their agriculture sector.

Just four African countries — Burkina Faso, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa –allow the cultivation of GMO crops, specifically, Bt cotton. In Africa, only South Africa grows GM food, allowing the cultivation of GM corn and soybeans.

GM opponents have urged African countries not to commercialize GM crops, saying it will put their agricultural sector in the hands of large multinational agri-businesses, hurt biodiversity, hurt small farmers and expose people to the potential health hazards of consuming GM food.

GM crops are as safe as all other crops, according to the International Society of African Scientists (ISAS). ISAS since 2001 has said that “agricultural biotechnology represents a major opportunity to enhance the production of food crops, cash crops, and other agricultural commodities in Africa and other developing nations.”

These are 10 African countries doing field tests for genetically modified crops.

Source: Genetic Literacy Project, Grains.co.za, CSIRO, The American Phytopathological Society.

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