News / Africa

    Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

    Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongeringi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    July 26, 2014 2:10 AM
    A new report states that genetically-modified crops -- also known as GM crops -- would dramatically improve agriculture in Africa. The report, published by the policy group Chatham House, argues the technology is being held back by scaremongering from opponents. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
    Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering
    Henry Ridgwell

     A new report states that genetically-modified crops -- also known as GM crops -- would dramatically improve agriculture in Africa. The report,  published by the policy group Chatham House, argues the technology is being held back by scaremongering from opponents.

    Inside a temperature-regulated laboratory, scientists in Uganda are developing what they call a "golden banana" -- more hardy, and with higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

    Priva Namanya, one of the researchers, said, “We have been able to show that we can in crease our vitamin A levels six times.”

    Increased productivity

    GM crops offer the best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to the co-author of the Chatham House report, Rob Bailey.

    “There is a whole host of GM crops in development in Africa specifically designed to address the needs of poor farmers and poor food consumers. Crops like cassava, sorghum, bananas, sweet potato, drought-tolerant maize. And it’s precisely these crops that are stuck at the field trial stage,” he said.

    The reason, said Bailey, is that governments are reluctant to approve GM crops in the face of intense lobbying by opponents.

    “They’ve created anti-GM campaigns based on misinformation. So for example, alleging a link between GM crops and infertility, or cancer, or animal deformities. None of which is true, there’s no evidence for any of this,” he said.

    Opponents argue GM crops are expensive to produce, do not bring higher yields, and introduce more chemicals into the environment. And they say companies promoting GM crops are more interested in profits than in helping poor farmers produce food.

    On the outskirts of the Ghanaian capital Accra, farmer Tetteh Nartey grows pawpaw, maize and other vegetables, alongside a small dairy business. This year Ghana approved field trials for GM grains like cowpeas. Nartey thinks it's a bad idea.

    “Anything that is not natural it has got its bad side, if it is not natural then be very careful because at the end of the day we start taking GM products, but who has done the research?” asked Nartey.

    Critics sound off

    Ghana’s government insists it has put in place stringent bio-safety laws. But increasing yields through GM crops is not the answer to food shortages in Africa, according to Soren Ambrose of Action Aid.

    “It’s not so much the problem of producing food, as it is the problem of getting the food that is produced to the people who need it. The continent is very much still struggling with its road infrastructure, with its storage facilities for products and so on,” said Ambrose.

    Millions of small-scale farmers contribute to African agriculture. Campaigners like Bernard Guri of Ghana’s Center for Indigenous Knowledge fear the introduction of GM crops could drive those farmers out of business.

    “This is against our sovereignty, it is another form of colonialism where gradually the developed world is conspiring to take over our food system in terms of taking over our land, taking over our seed, and taking over the whole farming food system,” said Guri.

    But if one African country did approve GM crops, others would quickly follow, said Bailey of Chatham House.

    “It would become apparent that they’re very useful, that they are potentially higher yielding, that they have resistance to pests of diseases, and consumers could see that they’re not a threat to their health. Then that could unlock a positive chain and you could see GM crops being taken up elsewhere.”

    Supporters of GM crops argue they could trigger a green revolution in African agriculture. But there are still many who remain unconvinced.

     

     

     

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JC from: US
    July 26, 2014 5:20 PM
    This article brought to you by the shills of Monsanto. Hope Africa will do the right thing. Organic is the way to go....no chemicals. How were crops grown years ago, before hundreds of chemicals were sprayed on crops? Superweeds are coming! But keep on using stronger and stronger chemicals. See what happens.

    by: Peter from: Rwanda
    July 26, 2014 2:57 PM
    I've been in India and Africa working with those who lack food security. In my opinion GM crops in Africa would not lead to African farmers becoming successful farmers capable of feeding their continent independent of Western corporate influence and would have similar results as it has in India.

    Dave Woods from Scotland asks "why should they kill themselves?" and in doing so displays colossal ignorance of the plight of Indian farmers because of Monsanto's non-regenerating seed products and reliance on chemicals that are part of the GM spectrum.

    Anyone in doubt about the supposed benefits of GM crops needs to look to the epidemic of suicides among Indian farmers to understand and actually hear the Indian farmer's answer that question.

    This story is Monsanto propaganda and based on a report generated by a Chatam House, whose think tank members were and paid by?

    The most significant quote from which the headline writers could have begun a more insightful story was; "“This is against our sovereignty, it is another form of colonialism where gradually the developed world is conspiring to take over our food system in terms of taking over our land, taking over our seed, and taking over the whole farming food system,”


    In Response

    by: Dave Wood from: Scotland
    July 27, 2014 3:56 AM
    So you have `been in' India and Africa: so have I, 8 years in Africa in agricultural research and 4 years resident in India.
    `non-regenerating seed products': this has nothing whatever to do with GM crops. Farmers have to buy seed of all hybrid crops each season - this going back more than half a century.
    In most developing countries food `sovereignty' does not exist. 70% of all crop production in Latin America and Africa is from crops originally brought in from another continent. Where would Indian cuisine be without Capsicum peppers from the Americas? Where would Rwanda be without sweet potato and Phaseolus beans from the Americas (and maize, and potato, and bananas)?
    Your last sentence is slogans strung together to stop farmers using the best agricultural technology: this is a recipe that favours crop-exporting countries, the reverse of sovereignty for India.

    by: sadiq dabo from: GWARZO kano nigeria
    July 26, 2014 6:46 AM
    It is important to improved our seeds/ seedling but we most be concious to what could distroy the nature of our natural seeds whach at long run will be halmful to our lives and enviroment.

    by: dean from: Vancouver, WA
    July 26, 2014 5:23 AM
    BS more Monsanto propaganda promoted by our corporate controlled government. GM crops are so awesome that farmers in India are committing suicide over GM seed issues bankrupting them and farmers in Oregon are burning fields of GM crops
    In Response

    by: Dave Wood from: Scotland
    July 26, 2014 12:15 PM
    The level of farmer suicides in India is nothing to do with GM crops. Look at the success of GM cotton in India pre- and post-GM:

    Cotton (lint) production
    1995 India 2,188,370 tonnes USA 3,897,000 tonnes
    2012 India 5,321,000 tonnes USA 3,594,000 tonnes

    These figures show the severe damage done to US cotton exports (and US cotton farming - once `King Cotton') from greater competition from India resulting from GM cotton being a striking success.
    Activists in India are cashing in by taking funds from the US and trying to stop Indian farmers getting rich at the expense of US farmers (about $4 billion a year richer: why should they kill themselves?). The Government of India has recently named some anti-GM activists.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora