Cape Town – Although slow on the uptake, genetically modified crops or GMO plants are taking rooting in Africa, with sub-Saharan African region leading the way.
As the continent faces a major hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, compounded by a growing climate change crisis, coupled with conflict and war, GMOs have been touted by activists as an answer to alleviating global hunger.
South Africa, Sudan, Egypt and Burkina Faso lead in the commercialisation of GM crops on the continent.
Kenya has recently approved genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and broken free from a decade-long ban on the technology.
Kenyan authorities said they had put a robust policy, the legal and institutional framework, in place to promote the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Malawi has also joined countries that have adopted the cultivation of genetically modified cotton seed varieties, according to agriculture authorities.
Countries that have embraced new seed varieties include Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan and Ethiopia.
In 2021, the AU said it was developing guidelines for the use of genetically modified crops across the continent.
The global value of the biotech crops market is projected to reach $30.24 billion (about R520bn) by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights, citing Africanews.
GMOs are safe, say activists
According to Alliance for Science, an organisation which seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, say that GMOs are safe.
“Every major scientific body in the world agrees that GMO foods are just as safe as non-GMO foods. They are safe to grow and eat. Livestock and humans all around the world have consumed them for decades with no problem.”
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA, several genetically modified crops are used to make ingredients that Americans eat such as cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, or granulated sugar.
The FDA says a few fresh fruit and vegetables are also available in GMO varieties, including potatoes, summer squash, apples, papayas and pink pineapples.
According to the agency, “although GMOs are in a lot of the foods we eat, most of the GMO crops grown in the US are used for animal food.”