Afriica seen accepting GMOs says Wambugu (18/10/2005)

Nobody can match Florence Wambugu. This time Africa's GM lobbyist par excellence is claiming that the Bill Gates funded multi-million dollar GM sorghum project her lobby group is coordinating is "absolutely an African driven project" and nothing to do with "foreign companies introducing technology that may not be appropriate to Africa".

Curious, then, that one of the key partners in Wambugu's consortium is Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont. But come to that Wambugu's lobby outfit Africa Harvest itself takes a chunk of money from Croplife International for its "communication" activities.

In other words, the voice in the article below telling you that GM is going to win greater acceptance in Africa because people will see it's not being driven by "foreign companies" comes to you courtesy of a global corporate federation led by Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta.

Following a visit by Wambugu to Australia, one commentator asked, "is it too cynical to suggest that having a black African as the face of a multinational chemical company is a spin doctor's dream? This seems to have lobotomised some journalists.." (GM science can be blinding, Rankin McKay, Herald Sun, July 30, 2003)

For a load more Wambugu porkies see her Pants on Fire award:

and her 'smoke 'n' mirrors' biotech banana project:

Africa seen accepting GMO crops more in future
Tue Oct 18, 2005

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Genetic crops are expected to gain wider acceptance in Africa as more homegrown projects emerge that will spread benefits among the poor, a Kenyan biotech expert said on Tuesday.

Several African nations ban genetically-modified (GM) crops, but much of the resistance has been against foreign companies introducing technology that may not be appropriate to Africa, said Florence Wambugu.

"No African countries own commercial GM crops," Wambugu, who heads the Africa Harvest non-governmental organisation, told a biotech conference in South Africa. "We need an African model that ensures that societal concerns and poverty are addressed."

Popular GMO crops grown in the United States need expensive seeds and inputs, but Wambugu said a good model for Africa was a new project to develop a GMO strain of sorghum with higher nutritional content.

Sorghum is a traditional African crop that thrives better than stable crop maize in arid and semi-arid climates, but has weak levels of vital nutrients.

A consortium of seven African groups, including Wambugu's Africa Harvest, and two U.S. groups are working on the five-year project. It is funded with a $16.9 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation run by the chairman of Microsoft and his wife.

Small-scale farmers would be able to source the new sorghum -- with higher levels of vitamins and protein -- on a licence-free basis.

Wambugu said public acceptance for GMO crops would grow as more projects emerged along the lines of the one for sorghum.

"I think it (public perception) will improve... this is absolutely an African driven project," she said.


Biotech crops have been controversial in Africa, with some countries banning GMO food aid amid food shortages on fears that they would contaminate local seed stocks.

Anti-GMO activists say genetic crops risk destabilising the environment or might damage those who eat them via unknown side effects.

South Africa is the only African country with extensive genetic crops, although Zimbabwe has field trials of maize.

During the last 2004/05 crop year, South African farmers planted 147,000 hectares of white maize, 8.2 percent of the total and 260,000 ha of yellow maize, accounting for 24.1 percent, according to conference documents.

Only three African countries have functioning GMO legislation -- South Africa, Egypt and Zimbabwe.

Cameroon, Malawi and Mauritius have GMO laws, but frameworks are not yet functioning, while several others have draft GMO laws -- Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia.

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive