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New Biotechnology
Vol. 30, No. 2, 2013; Pages: 124–130

Africa's inevitable walk to genetically modified (GM) crops: opportunities and challenges for commercialization

James A. Okeno1, Jeffrey D. Wolt1, Manjit K. Misra1, Lulu Rodriguez2

Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1180, USA.


High relative poverty levels in Africa are attributed to the continent's under performing agriculture. Drought, low-yielding crop varieties, pests and diseases, poor soils, low fertilizer use, limited irrigation and lack of modern technologies are among the problems that plague African agriculture. Genetically modified (GM) crops may possess attributes that can help overcome some of these constraints, but have yet to be fully embraced in the mix of technology solutions for African agriculture. Cognizant of this, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt are steadily growing GM crops on a commercial scale. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda are increasingly field-testing these crops with the view to commercialize them. These countries show strong government support for GM technology. Progress by these first adopter nations provides an insight as to how GM crops are increasingly being viewed as one of the ways in which the continent can invigorate the agriculture sector and achieve food security.

Keywords:Genetically modified (GM) crops; Drought, low-yielding crop varieties, pests and diseases, poor soils, low fertilizer use, limited irrigation.

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