Africa's GM crop debate

GMO Safety: What justifies the development of these crops?

Makinde: These new GM crops are staple crops that Africans love to eat several times a day. They are aimed towards both small-scale and commercial farmers. These new crops are either fortified to increase their nutritional value or are protected against prevailing pests and diseases.

GMO Safety: Are these new GM crops local crops, i.e. will they be cultivated at their centre of origin?

Makara: The crops that are currently being developed are important for Africa but many are not African. Maize, cassava and sweet potato are not from Africa. Even the banana is not from Africa, it comes from Southeast Asia! There are no wild relatives of these crops.

Makinde: The biosafety of newly developed crops is assessed in confined field trials.

GMO Safety: Now that we have talked so much about Africa, do you have anything to say about Europe?

Makara: Europe should come to terms with GM technology and listen to its scientists. After all, Europeans accept biotechnology in pharmaceuticals and when they visit the US or South Africa they eat the food there without asking whether it is GM or not. Europe needs to understand that Africa needs GM crops most.

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