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Old 19-09-2003, 04:32 PM
Torsten Brinch
 
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Default GM Crops Irrelevant for Africa

http://www.twnafrica.org/docs/GMCropsAfrica.pdf

GM Crops Irrelevant for Africa

Damning report concludes GM crops do not address the real causes of
poverty and hunger in Africa. Jonathan Matthews writes.

..

The report shows how the industry's PR spin is often farcically
inexact.

Here's just one example in relation to GM cotton in South Africa:
"ISAAA implies that small farmers have been using the technology on a
hundred thousand hectares. Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe - an
industry coalition - suggests 5,000 ha of "smallholder cotton". The
survey team suggests 3,000 ha.

"In addition to conflicting data on the area and numbers of farmers,
the profits gained by switching to Bt cotton are unclear." DeGrassi
writes. "CropGen says farmers gain $113 per hectare. Monsanto says
farmers gain an extra $90. ISAAA argues that switching to Bt allows
farmers make an extra $50 per hectare. University researchers
calculate $35, whilst the survey team found farmers gained only $18 in
the second year, but in the first year, "Bt cotton nonadopters were
actually $1 per hectare better off"."

Meanwhile, the very crop that has been reported to be giving small
farmers an easier and more affluent life, turns out to have not only
failed to solve Makhathini farmers' existing problems with debt, but
to have actually deepened and widened indebtedness. The expensive crop
have helped to saddle them with debts of $1.2 million!

Despite that, CropGen claimed GM cotton has turned the area from one
that wasn't viable for agriculture into "a thriving agricultural
community". Monsanto says, "The region has become an example to the
world of how plant biotechnology can help the smallholder farmers of
Africa". Not to be outdone, Steven Smith, Chairman of the UK's
Agricultural Biotechnology Council, has said of the project, that
"small farmers are realizing huge economic benefits". A group of
academics in South Africa have even claimed that projecting the
results across the entire continent shows that "it could generate
additional incomes of about six billion Rand, or US$600 million, for
some of the world's poorest farmers."

ISAAA's claims, according to deGrassi who details the various claims
in his carefully referenced report, are apparently even more
fantastical.

The report shows that GM cotton is, in truth, at best irrelevant to
poverty in the area, and at worst is "lowering wages and job prospects
for agricultural laborers, who are some of the most impoverished
people in South Africa."

The other showcase project that deGrassi looks at in detail centers on
GM sweet potatoes in Kenya. Again deGrassi demonstrates the total gap
between the supposed 'evidence' and hyperbole - "Transgenic Sweet
Potato Could End Kenyan Famine" - and the wholly unimpressive reality.

"The [GM] sweet potato project [which may increase production by as
much as 18%] is now nearing its twelfth year, and involves over 19
scientists (16 with PhDs) and an estimated $6 million. In contrast,
conventional sweet potato breeding in Uganda was able in just a few
years to develop with a small budget a well-liked virus-resistant
variety with yield gains of nearly 100%."

Yet it has been claimed that the virus in question "is a classic
example of a problem that cannot be solved through conventional
breeding," and that "the time and money spent actually developing GM
varieties are less than for conventional varieties."

DeGrassi also notes: "Another surprising example of advocacy trumping
facts is C.S. Prakash, the influential biotechnology advocate who has
advised the US Trade Representative. Prakash has repeatedly cited
sweet potatoes as a positive example of the benefits of GM for African
countries, but has confessed to having no knowledge of the results of
scientific trials in Kenya."

Prakash issued a press release ahead of the Sacramento ministerial
meeting in June demanding that international leaders ignore the
protesters and "let sound science determine the future of agricultural
technologies in developing countries".

DeGrassi mercilessly exposes the kind of 'sound science' that has been
used to lobby leaders around the world and to mislead the rest of us.
Read deGrassi's report. The truth is out!

Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-
Saharan Africa: An Assessment of Current Evidence by Aaron diGrassi,
published by Third World Network, Africa
http://www.twnafrica.org/docs/GMCropsAfrica.pdf


 
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