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‘Fear of the unknown’ prevents African adoption of GM crops, says African ag group

‘Fear of the unknown’ prevents African adoption of GM crops, says African ag group

Widespread opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa has been described as a farce, based on fear of the unknown, by an African agriculture organisation chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

In a new report , AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) argues that anti-GM sentiment is a ‘farce’, pointing out that GM crops have been subject to more safety testing worldwide than any other new crops. It says that foods containing GM ingredients have been judged no riskier than those containing only conventionally grown ingredients by global institutions including the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“There is growing public opposition to GM crops in Africa that is best described as a fear of the unknown,” the report says. “Unless milled, the import of GMO foods is currently banned in Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. More important to seed sector development, these bans signal the arbitrariness and unpredictability of public policy.”

Nevertheless, the report adds that GM crops may not have a role to play in ending food insecurity.

It says: “Given low adoption of improved crops by smallholder farmers in most countries, GMO crops are unlikely to impact Africa food security in the near future given low marginal yield gains over conventionally bred seeds.”

AGRA is an independent Kenya-based organisation that aims to cut food insecurity in half in at least 20 countries and double the incomes of 20m smallholder farmers.

However, critics say that the organisation’s real agenda is based on supporting agribusiness.

“It will come as no surprise that recommendations in the report all serve AGRA's agribusiness goal of creating massive new markets by converting African agriculture to a model based on corporate seed, fertilisers and pesticides, all paid for with spiralling debt,” said international advocacy coordinator for the Gaia Foundation, Teresa Anderson.

She said that it was insulting to call farmers' concerns about GM crops a fear of the unknown.

“AGRA may talk of addressing hunger and poverty, but their agenda to create a dangerous dependence on agribusiness corporations across Africa, is becoming more naked by the day.”

Only four African countries have commercialised GM crops: Burkina Faso, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa. Meanwhile, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda are conducting field trials of GM crops, the final step before approval for commercialisation.

The full AGRA report is available online here (pdf).

6 comments (Comments are now closed)

Farce? I don´t think so

I agree 100% with most of the comments. Shame on you Food Navigator to take part in this and say it´s farce!

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Posted by Ines
18 September 2013 | 13h52

Safety testing? Really?

"GM crops have been subject to more safety testing worldwide than any other new crops." Hmmm, let's take a look at this.
1. To what extent are other new crops tested at all? If they are developed conventionally, they don't present the risks associated with severing, rejoining, and combining genetic materials that never co-existed in nature, and justifiably don't require or receive significant testing. I'm sure that thalidomide was tested more than tap water, but I doubt the deformed babies born from the mothers who used it would find this a persuasive argument.
2. Who performs all this testing on GM crops? Almost exclusively the very companies that create and market them, that's who. My understanding is that their studies are not subject to outside design review, nor are they obligated to report the results of all study outcomes. Moreover, these companies actively suppress independent research by leaning on their patents to prevent outside researchers from acquiring their seeds for research purposes, allowing them only to be purchased only for commercial cultivation. Moreover, they "donate" extensive amounts of money to universities, who then turn a blind eye to conducting and publishing research that might prove "controversial". Moreover, they subsidize politicians and media outlets through advertising on commercial channels and donations to not-for-profit media.
Thank about it.

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Posted by Cassandra
12 September 2013 | 15h53

Spin Doctor Caroline Scott Thomas

Anti-GM sentiment is no farce. Unless of course you are on the payroll of the globalist mega-corporations who never asked for permission from the 7.1 billion on this planet to play God and permanently defile the genetic makeup of our biosphere. The Genie is out of the bottle people, and any of you who think you are part of something good in GM technologies are going to wake up to the truth one day. How many new cases of autism, acute food sensitivities and allergies, celiac disease, IBS, Crohn's, and rare and unique cancers that are currently on the rise will we learn were all related to the rise of GMO's? Of course, when we all wake up and see the evidence out there, we will also learn that GMO's are just one of the many contributing soft kill assaults we face daily by these globalist Eugenicists, and they will hide behind plausible deniability and Government waivers from culpability. To you who say GMO’s are safe, show me the testing please because every independent study I’ve seen shows extremely, harmful, long-term health effects. Shame on the Food Navigator for pandering to this level of corruption and criminal collusion to commit genocide!

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Posted by Mark Dickerson
12 September 2013 | 15h01

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