The Corner

Gm Food in Africa

A reader writes with the following:

“Biotech, with its potential to insert genes that target specific problems, such as pest resistance and drought tolerance, holds enormous potential for Africa. USAID estimates that… a 1 percent increase in crop productivity will bring 6 million people out of poverty there. But for a variety of complex reasons, including the substantial influence of “environmental” groups and the EU, they have yet to benefit from biotech (which the exception of South Africa, who does not depend on Europe for trade and consequently has developed and planted several biotech varieties).

One specific case discussed [at recent hearings held by the House Committee on Science] was …telling of the green/EU stance: Uganda has developed a “Bt” variety of banana that is resistant to the Black Sigatoka virus, which is currently ravaging banana harvests with 60-70 percent yield reductions. But [the Ugandans] will not even plant field trials of the new variety because of EU threats to stop importing… bananas [from that country]…Insect-resistant Bt cotton, which has caught on very rapidly in China in the last 3 years [was also discussed]. Greenpeace claims the cotton is destructive to the environment, when in actuality it has reduced pesticide applications by 70-80 percent…To their credit…several of the Democrats that spoke at the hearing admonished…green groups for their efforts in stalling biotech acceptance in Africa.”

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