Volume 52 (2018)

Volume 52 (2018) / Issue 1

Onsando Osiemo, 'Saving Africa: The GMO Cold War and the Battle for Africa' (2018) 52 Journal of World Trade, Issue 1, pp. 143–162


The situation in Africa is dire … On average, agriculture accounts for 70% of full-time employment … , 33% of national income, and 40% of total export earnings … . Yet its performance in recent decades has been one of the worst in the world. (K. Otsuka, D. F. Larson, & P. B. R. Hazell, An Overview , in An African Green Revolution: Finding Ways to Boost Productivity on Small Farms 1, 2 (K. Otsuka & D. F. Larson eds, Springer 2013).)

Africa’s food crisis calls out for answers … . One new technical option is the development of new crop varieties through genetic engineering techniques. (R. Paarlberg, Are Genetically Modified (GM) Crops a Commercial Risk for Africa? 2 Int’l J. Tech. & Global. 81, 81–82 (2006).)

Africa poses a conundrum. On the one hand, it has the largest percentage of undeveloped arable land in the world and deploys the largest percentage of labour in agricultural production. Yet, on the other hand, its agricultural productivity is about one third of the world s average; it is a net food importer; and it suffers from the highest level of hunger in the world. Proponents of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops have opened a new front of the GMO cold war in Africa by crusading for the adoption of GMO in Africa as a solution to increasing its agricultural production and alleviating hunger. Opponents of GMO crops have responded by vociferously opposing the adoption of GMO in Africa. Africa is torn between these opposing forces. This article examines the ongoing GMO cold war and how it is playing out in Africa. The article finds that there is a stalemate: there is minimal adoption of GMO in Africa and yet its food deficit and attendant consequences is escalating.

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ISSN: 1011-6702
ID: TRAD2018007