12 April 2014

Tanzania: 'GMO Crops On the Increase Globally'

THERE is a sense of growing confidence in genetically modified crops as 18 million farmers have planted over 175 million hectares of genetically modified crops globally.

This is according to a new report to be launched in Tanzania next Monday by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). The report indicates that the adoption of genetically modified crops is on rise in Africa.

According to coordinator of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) in Dar es Salaam, Mr Philbert Nyinondi, the launch will take place at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) in Dar es Salaam on Monday April 14, during the inaugural OFAB event.

The report also indicates that globally more than 90 per cent, 16.5 million, farmers who planted genetically crops were smallscale and resource-poor. This represents growing confidence and trust by millions of risk-averse farmers on the benefits of these crops.

"Nearly 100 per cent of farmers who try genetically modified crops continue to plant them year after year," the report notes.

The statement highlighted substantial developments in Africa last year which included an impressive 50 per cent and 300 per cent increase in genetically modified cotton, respectively in Burkina Faso and Sudan.

Seven additional countries are conducting genetically modified crops field trials as a step for approval for cultivation by farmers.

These countries include Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda. Biotech drought-tolerant maize in Africa is expected to be planted in 2017.

Drought is the biggest constraint to maize productivity in Africa on which 300 million Africans depend for survival, noted the statement.

The open forum offers stakeholders a unique, regular and dynamic opportunity to discuss all aspects of agricultural biotechnology to demystify it and also to make recommendations on how to maximise its advantages and minimise its disadvantages, indicated the statement.

Through the forum, scientists have an opportunity to impact policy makers on the need to mainstream science and technology into Africa's development agenda.

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