Genetically modified food in Africa

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Genetically modified (GM) crops have been commercially cultivated in four African countries; South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan.[1] Beginning in 1998, South Africa is the major grower of GM crops, with Burkina Faso and Egypt starting in 2008.[2] Sudan grew GM cotton in 2012.[1] Other countries, with the aid of international governments and foundation, are conducting trials and research on crops important for Africa.[2] Crops under research for use in Africa include cotton, maize, cassava, cowpea, sorgum, potato, banana, sweet potato, sugar cane, coconut, squash and grape.[2] As well as disease, insect and virus resistance some of the research projects focus on traits particularly crucial for Africa like drought resistance and biofortification.[2]

In 2010, after nine years of talks, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) produced a draft policy on GM technology, which was sent to all 19 national governments for consultation in September 2010. Under the proposed policy, new GM crops would be scientifically assessed by COMESA. If the GM crop was deemed safe for the environmental and human health, permission would be granted for the crop to be grown in all 19 member countries, although the final decision would be left to each individual country.[3] Kenya passed laws in 2011,[4] and Ghana[5] and Nigeria[6] passed laws in 2012 which allowed the production and importation of GM crops. By 2013 Cameroon, Malawi and Uganda had approved trials of genetically altered crops.[1] Ethiopia has also revised its biosafety laws and in 2015 was trying to source GM cotton seeds for trials.[7][8]

A study investigating voluntary labeling in South Africa found that 31% of products labeled GMO-free had a GM content above 1.0%.[9] 2011 studies for Uganda showed that transgenic bananas had a high potential to reduce rural poverty but that urban consumers with a relatively higher income might reject the introduction.[10][11]

In 2002, Zambia cut off the flow of genetically modified food (mostly maize) from UN's World Food Programme on the basis of the Cartagena Protocol.[12] This left the population without food aid during a famine.[13] In December 2005 the Zambian government changed its position in the face of further famine and allowed the importation of GM maize.[14] However, the Zambian Minister for Agriculture Mundia Sikatana insisted in 2006, that the ban on genetically modified maize remained, saying "We do not want GM (genetically modified) foods and our hope is that all of us can continue to produce non-GM foods."[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c Dunmore, Charlie and Kumwenda, Olivia (6 June 2013) As health fears ebb, Africa looks at easing GM crop bans Reuters, 6 June 2006, Retrieved 9 August 2013
  2. ^ a b c d "Plant genetic engineering in Africa". African Farming. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  3. ^ Transgenic harvest Editorial, Nature 467, pages 633–634, 7 October 2010, doi:10.1038/467633b. Retrieved 9 November 2010
  4. ^ Denge, Mark and Gachenge, Beatrice (4 July 2011) Kenya approves law to allow GM crops Reuters Africa, 4 July 2004, Retrieved 9 November 2011
  5. ^ "Nigeria Passes Law Allowing Genetically Modified Plants". Biotechnology Law Report. 31 (2): 153–153. 2012. doi:10.1089/blr.2012.9900.
  6. ^ "Ghana to Allow Genetically Modified Crops". Biotechnology Law Report. 31 (2): 153–154. 2012. doi:10.1089/blr.2012.9901.
  7. ^ "Parliament Amends GMO Law to Allow Ethiopian Research Partnerships". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  8. ^ Reporter, Staff (2016-01-15). "Ethiopia negotiating with Monsanto on GMO seeds for Bt cotton". Capital Ethiopia Newspaper. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  9. ^ Botha, Gerda M.; Viljoen, Christopher D. (2009). "South Africa: A case study for voluntary GM labelling". Food Chemistry. 112 (4): 1060–1064. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.06.050.
  10. ^ Kikulwe, E.; Wesseler, J.; Falck-Zepeda, J. (2011). "Attitudes, Perceptions, and Trust: Insights from a Consumer Survey Regarding Genetically Modified Banana in Uganda". Appetite. 57 (2): 401–413. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.06.001.
  11. ^ Kikulwe, E.; Birol, E.; Wesseler, J.; Falck-Zepeda, J. (2011). "A Latent Class Approach to Investigating Developing Country Consumers' Demand for Genetically Modified Staple Food Crops: The Case of GM Banana in Uganda". Agricultural Economics. 42: 547–560. doi:10.1111/j.1574-0862.2010.00529.x.
  12. ^ Maharaj, Davan and Mukwita, Anthony (28 August 2002) Zambia Rejects Gene-Altered U.S. Corn Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2011
  13. ^ Zambian Leader Defends Ban On Genetically Altered Foods – New York Times. (2002-09-04). Retrieved on 2011-02-08.
  14. ^ Zambia Allows Its People To Eat. Retrieved on 2011-02-08.
  15. ^ Africans vow to resist any US pressure on GMOs, Reuters, 2/9/2006
  16. ^ World Environment News. Planet Ark. Retrieved on 2011-02-08.
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