The GM Banana and those Who Oppose it

banana affected by bacteria wilt

According to the acting director, Andrew Kigundu,  of Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO): “The idea of work on genetically engineered bananas is a result of many years of testing of Banana production.” The experiments started in 2005 and work is still ongoing to improve on the content of the fruit and resistance to parasites….The East African country is the first African country to turn toward GM to improve its production of bananas. An option which should make the country remain the first producer in the world .

Genetically modified bananas solve Uganda’s productivity problems, AllAfricanews, May 24, 2016

See also Excerpt From “How the EU starves Africa into submission,” by Calestous Juma, a professor of the practice of international development at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, for the website CapX, Oct. 26, 2015:

EU policy undermines African agricultural innovation . . . in the field of genetically modified ( GM) crops. The EU exercises its right not to cultivate transgenic crops but only to import them as animal feed. However, its export of restrictive policies on GM crops has negatively affected Africa.

The adoption of restrictive policies across Africa has been pursued under the pretext of protecting the environment and human health. So far there has been little evidence to support draconian biosafety rules. It is important that the risks of new products be assessed. But the restrictions should proportionate and consistent with needs of different countries.

Africa’s needs are different from those of the EU. There are certain uniquely African problems where GM should be considered as an option.   The Xanthomonas banana wilt bacterial disease causes early ripening and discoloration of bananas, a staple crop for Uganda. This costs the Great Lakes region nearly US $500m annually in losses. There is no treatment for the disease, which continues to undermine food security.  Ugandan scientists at Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute have developed a GM approach but their efforts to further their research in the technology are hampered by opposition to it. Those opposed to the technology advocate the adoption of an EU biosafety approach that would effectively stall the adoption of the technology. In fact, some of opponents using scare tactics against the technology are EU-based non-governmental organizations.

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