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2015-02-23

Monsanto and Gates Foundation push GM crops on Africa, new report

Corn 90% of South Africa’s maize is GM (Photo: Pascal Parent/flickr)

US agencies, donors such as the Gates Foundation and agribusiness giant Monsanto are collectively attempting to force African countries to accept expensive and insufficiently tested genetically modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new Friends of the Earth International report released today. The report takes a closer look at who actually benefits from GM crops. “The US, the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa. The US administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops”, said Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biosafety, a non-profit organisation based in South Africa which authored the report. The report shows how Monsanto is trying to influence biosafety legislation in African countries in order to pave the way for the approval of its products. While strong biosafety laws have been in place in Europe for years, only a handful of African countries have implemented such legislation. At the moment, only South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan have released GM crops commercially. The introduction of genetically modified maize is especially highly controversial, with maize being the staple food of most Africans. The report outlines two controversial projects which are trying to open the door for the acceptance of commercial GM varieties under the guise of fighting hunger and malnutrition: the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and efforts to introduce genetically modified vitamin A-enriched bananas into Uganda. Both projects are sponsored by the Gates Foundation. Many organisations, farmers and consumers doubt that GM technologies are an adequate means of fighting hunger. Swanby gives South Africa as an example, where farmers have more than 16 years of experience in cultivating GM maize, soya and cotton. However, food security in the country declined from 48% in 2008 to 45.6% at the end of 2013 even though South Africa exports maize. “The South African experience confirms that GM crops can only bring financial benefits for a small number of well-resourced farmers. The vast majority of African farmers are small farmers who cannot afford to adopt expensive crops which need polluting inputs such as synthetic fertilisers and chemicals to perform effectively”, Swanby said. The report advises governments and donors to focus on agroecology to build people’s food sovereignty instead of funding polluting GM crops-based agriculture. The authors underline that seeds, land and agroecology in the hands of small-scale farmers are the solutions to the huge challenges agriculture is facing in Africa and elsewhere, as the IAASTD showed, which took 400 scientists and four years to complete. (ab)

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The Original Report

Agriculture at a Crossroads
The original version of the full report, five regional reports and the Synthesis Report in English, with a feature that allows you to make comments and/or add important information.

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