April 9, 2010
A shipment of genetically modified (GM) maize has been blocked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa after protests by environmentalists. GM imports have been banned in several African countries. The 40,000-tonne shipment contained four varieties of maize, three of which were made by Monsanto.
Mariam Mayet, an activist at the South African-based African Centre for Biosafety, criticised her government’s policy. “The way it is, one is inclined to say that South Africa was a springboard to contaminate the rest of the African continent by allowing multinationals to export from South African soil,” she told South Africa’s Business Report newspaper.
Many African countries are under increasing pressure to grow GM crops to tackle hunger and malnutrition, and drought in recent years has caused food shortages in Kenya.
Interesting article in today’s issue of the New York Times: “Can Biotech Food Cure World Hunger?”… includes commentaries from six experts (academics, activists, authors) on the subject.
I am particularly fond of Paul Collier’s (economist with Oxford U) encouragement for us to put aside our prejudices: “Genetic modification is analogous to nuclear power: nobody loves it, but climate change has made its adoption imperative.” Particularly, Collier says, for countries like Africa. He says, “African governments are now recognizing that by imitating the European ban on genetic modification they have not reduced the risks facing their societies but increased them. Thirteen years, during which there could have been research on African crops, have been wasted. Africa has been in thrall to Europe, and Europe has been in thrall to populism.”
Johnathon Foley, director of the new Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, expounds upon “The Third Way”… “Currently, there are two paradigms of agriculture being widely promoted: local and organic systems versus globalized and industrialized agriculture. Each has fervent followers and critics. Genuine discourse has broken down: You’re either with Michael Pollan or you’re with Monsanto. But neither of these paradigms, standing alone, can fully meet our needs.” Foley suggest a “hybrid” of the two: “…take ideas from both sides, [create] new, hybrid solutions that boost production, conserve resources and build a more sustainable and scalable agriculture.”
What a hit for the Canadian agriculture industry…. and for Africa. Way to go, Stephen Lewis… have you fogotten that HIV/AIDS ravaged Africa is also starving? There is so much lost knowledge of agricultural production process through generations lost through the HIV/AIDS epidemic.