Africa Doesn't Need Labels on GM Food

Genetics as it applies to evolution, molecular biology, and medical aspects.

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Africa Doesn't Need Labels on GM Food

Post by gmoafrica » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:45 am

The other day, I was listening to Norman Borlaug being interviewed in Penn Jillette’s radio show ( about his work in the field of agricultural biotechnology. Asked about his attitude towards anti-biotech activists, Dr. Borlaug, the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner, dismissed them as saber rattlers who have never produced a tonne of food.

I unreservedly concur with Dr. Borlaug. Anti-biotech activists are nothing but noisemakers out to deny farmers, especially in poor countries, a chance to enjoy the benefits of modern agricultural biotechnology.

Just recently, Michael Hansen, a researcher at the U.S.-based Consumer Policy Institute, a division of Consumer Union, was in South Africa on a campaign for the labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) products. Consumer Union, since time immemorial, has been spearheading opposition against genetic modification.

I can’t really understand Mr. Hansen’s motivation. He should leave Africa alone to make its own decision about genetically modified food. Genetically modified crops are yet to gain a foothold in Africa. Except South Africa, no other African country is currently cultivating genetically modified crops. Activists like Mr. Hansen should let Africa to at least start commercializing genetically modified crops.

To Africa, the debate about labeling genetically modified food is premature. Mr. Hansen’s labeling campaign equals to putting the cart before the horse. Furthermore, Mr. Hansen and his sponsors have failed to persuade the U.S. government to require all GMOs products to be labeled. He would rather put his house in order before going to Africa. Of utmost concern to Africa at the moment is producing adequate food for its people.

The U.S., Mr. Hansen’s home, grows GM crops in abundance, because they’re high yielding and require less or no pesticides. This is the same food that’s given to Africa in form of humanitarian assistance. Africa doesn’t want to be a perpetual beneficiary of food aid. It wants to produce its own genetically modified food. To read more about James’ criticism of Mr. Hansen, go to

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