Though anti-GMO sentiment is restraining agricultural advancement in the developing world, an Iowa State University agronomist hopes his research will clarify the scientific consensus and spark wider acceptance of the technology in Africa.
A paper recently published in the academic journal Global Food Security analyzed dozens of previous scientific studies on the safety of Bt corn, a genetically modified (GM) crop capable of resisting pests. The study upheld the conclusion that the GM crop is safe for humans and the environment. Walter Suza, an adjunct assistant professor of agronomy at Iowa State and a co-author of the study, said Bt corn could help farmers in Africa to combat an emerging pest capable of devastating their crops, but fear of GM crops in Africa has slowed adoption of the technology.
“My hope is that policymakers in Africa will take hold of this paper and implement this technology that’s been tested for many years,” Suza said. “There’s a real need for this in Africa.”
Suza, who grew up in Tanzania and has worked on food security projects in Angola and Zimbabwe, said misunderstanding of GM technology, both globally and specifically in Africa, has held back progress for many African farmers. Suza said 13 African countries are testing GM crops, but only South Africa has approved Bt corn for commercial availability to farmers.