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Thursday, 07 July 2016

African farming sacrificed to European green politics, blocking GMO innovation

The call, in a report made by the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, not to support genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa is unfortunate and an attempt to institutionalize poverty on the continent. The G7 group of nations’ joint initiative with the New Alliance—aimed at lifting 500 million people out of poverty by 2022 using 10 African countries as pilot studies—to start using genetically modified tools in agricultural production is being thrown out of the window. The report recommended that intensive agriculture that made Europe, the Americas, and many parts of Asia food secure should not be applied in Africa, but that the continent remain with small-scale farming practices that have not been able to meet our food and nutrition needs. Despite the huge tonnage of GM cereals and legumes imported into Europe used as feedstuff, their cultivation is prohibited—to ‘protect’ the environment, to maintain the organic market and, more importantly, for ideological reasons. This was nicely described as ‘cultivation forbidden, importation indispensable‘ by Giovanni Tagliabue in a 2016 paper (The EU Legislation on “GMOs”: Between Nonsense and Protectionism, a paper for the 20th ICABR Conference) in which the author gave the example of the genetically modified Amflora potato which, due to long delays, was not commercialized only to be produced through mutagenesis and commercialized with no fuss as it was politically a “non-GMO”.