Is Africa rejecting GM? / Biosafety resources (4/3/2008)

1.TWN Update for February 2008

2.Is Africa rejecting genetic engineering in food and agriculture?

3.Starved for Science
How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa


1.TWN Update for February 2008
Push-pull strategy successfully controls pests, weeds Research published online recently demonstrates the benefits of using ‘push-pull’ approaches for controlling insect pests and weeds.


Who Benefits from GM Crops - The Rise in Pesticides Use (Executive Summary)
This report shows that growing of GM crops has increased the use of harmful pesticides in major biotech crop producing countries.


Cotton, Contaminated?
The report concludes that contamination from GM crops is inevitable in India, as the case with Bt Cotton demonstrates.


GM Contamination Register Report 200
This is the third annual report from the online GM Contamination Register, which reviews reported cases of contamination and illegal plantings and releases of GM (genetically modified) organisms.


Sustainable agriculture's climate mitigation potential
A new report written for Greenpeace by Professor Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen, a lead author on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, examines the direct and indirect impacts of agriculture on climate change.


Agricultural biodiversity discussions at the CBD
The issue of agricultural biodiversity was discussed at the 13th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) technical body held in Rome in Feb 2008.


2.Is Africa rejecting genetic engineering in food and agriculture?
Agricultural Biotechnology
March 3 2008

Full text of document

This booklet outlines recent key trends, developments and actors in the debate on genetic engineering (GE) in food and agriculture in Africa. It also highlights a number of the key talking points including the harmonisation of bio-safety legislation, the new green revolution in Africa, and genetic diversity.

It is argued that more than 10 years have passed since Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were first commercialised in the world, yet out of more than 50 African countries, only South Africa has explicitly taken bio-safety decisions to authorise the commercial cultivation and importation of GMOs for the purposes of food, feed and processing.

Key points highlighted throughout recent trends include:

**several African countries such as Sudan, Angola and Zambia have fiercely resisted receiving GM food aid, precipitating reforms in food aid policies internationally

**the GM push in Africa has recorded several significant setbacks and failures, with Florence Wambugu's GM sweet potato in Kenya and the Gates Foundation's GM sorghum in South Africa being the most prominent

**this rejection represents a huge set back for crucial components of the 'New Green Revolution in Africa' push, which is heavily funded by the Gates Foundation

**2007 has not been a good year for GE in South Africa. The first ever GM cassava field trials also faced the thumbs down from the South African regulatory authorities

**while the GE lobby has waged a heavily resourced battle for acceptance of GMOs, public reaction has in many instances been hostile. The media has been extremely critical of GMOs in countries such as Kenya, Zambia and South Africa.


3.Starved for Science
How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa
Robert Paarlberg
Foreword by Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter
Harvard University Press, Mar. 2008, 256 pp, ISBN 13:978-0-674-02973-6

Heading upcountry in Africa to visit small farms is absolutely exhilarating given the dramatic beauty of big skies, red soil, and arid vistas, but eventually the two-lane tarmac narrows to rutted dirt, and the journey must continue on foot. The farmers you eventually meet are mostly women, hardworking but visibly poor. They have no improved seeds, no chemical fertilizers, no irrigation, and with their meager crops they earn less than a dollar a day. Many are malnourished.

Nearly two-thirds of Africans are employed in agriculture, yet on a per-capita basis they produce roughly 20 percent less than they did in 1970. Although modern agricultural science was the key to reducing rural poverty in Asia, modern farm science—including biotechnology—has recently been kept out of Africa.

In Starved for Science Robert Paarlberg explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He traces this obstacle to the current opposition to farm science in prosperous countries. Having embraced agricultural science to become well-fed themselves, those in wealthy countries are now instructing Africans—on the most dubious grounds—not to do the same.

In a book sure to generate intense debate, Paarlberg details how this cultural turn against agricultural science among affluent societies is now being exported, inappropriately, to Africa. Those who are opposed to the use of agricultural technologies are telling African farmers that, in effect, it would be just as well for them to remain poor.

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