Using Genetically Modified Crops in Africa

Reply Tue 1 Mar, 2005 10:37 am
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is pushing ahead with genetically modified (GMO) commercial crops, but many other African countries shun them.
The factbox below outlines the current situation in several sub-Saharan African countries.

ANGOLA - Bans import of all GMO produce, except for food aid providing it has already been milled. United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says the additional cost of milling has put off some food donors.

BURKINA FASO - West Africa's number two cotton producer after Mali, is leading the GMO way in the region. It has been testing GMO cotton from both US biotech giant Monsanto and Switzerland's Syngenta for several years. There are still some concerns about potential harm to the environment.

ETHIOPIA - Bans import of GMO food, saying it would undermine farmers who already have their own traditional ways of fighting pests and weeds. Debate continues over whether GMO crops could help country out of years of serious food shortages.

KENYA - Does not permit GMO food imports, but government in final stages of drafting legislation to govern the use of GMO technology. Currently carrying out research into possible use of GMO cotton, maize and tuber crops.

LESOTHO - Bans GMO imports unless already processed or milled, citing concerns over environmental contamination.

MADAGASCAR - Bans growing or importing GMO foods due to fears over effect on human health and environment.

MALAWI - Bans GMO imports unless already processed or milled, citing concerns over environmental contamination.

MALI - Considering GMO cotton tests. It is wary about any detrimental impact on human health, the environment and that importers will be tied to certain firms to import the GMO seeds.

NIGERIA - Drafted a biosafety law allowing use of GMO technology last year, but National Assembly has yet to pass it. Food experts say resistance in the assembly may delay bill, preventing application of GMO to some local crops. Nigerian experts keen to apply GMO to black-eyed beans, where tests suggest it could improve yields three-fold.

No policy on GMO imports, although most rice imports come from Thailand and India where GMO not used commercially.

SOUTH AFRICA - GMO use widespread. Monsanto says 20 to 30 percent of South Africa's maize crop and 80 percent of its cotton crop are now GMO. But opposition remains, with environmental pressure group Biowatch winning a court case forcing the government to disclose data about where GMO crops are grown [ID].

SWAZILAND - No restrictions on GMO imports.

UGANDA - Government began public hearings in October over whether or not to accept GMO crops, although no results yet published. String of stories in Ugandan press over "major breakthroughs" by Ugandan scientists in producing GMO bananas -- Uganda's staple crop -- but no official comment.

RWANDA - Awaiting conclusions from a government biotechnology committee before adopting a policy.

TANZANIA - Drafting legislation to pave the way for introduction of GMO foods.

ZAMBIA - Banned import of all GMO produce in 2002, citing concerns over environmental impact and effect on human health. WFP moved some non-GMO food aid stocks out of the country.

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