What’s The Rationale For Rejecting GM Technology?

What’s The Rationale For Rejecting GM Technology?

From International Center For Trade And Sustainable Development. Written by Aleks Shaefer and Colin A. Carter.

Given the rapid increase in the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the ever-expanding capabilities of biotechnology applied to food production, it is surprising that only 29 countries currently produce GM products.

In sub-Saharan Africa—the poorest region in the world with the lowest agricultural productivity—only three countries produce GMOs including South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Sudan.

In fact, many countries have instituted outright bans on imported food containing GM products. One of the most high-profile examples was Zambia’s ban on GM food imports, including famine relief shipments in the face of millions suffering from starvation, in 2002.

Countries across Africa and Asia cite the risk of future export losses as a rationale for rejecting GM technology because supermarket chains in major markets like the EU and Japan have instituted private standards to avoid GM ingredients in the products they sell.

The stewardship of coexisting GM and non-GM crops has been far from flawless even in countries with advanced regulatory systems such as the US. Instances of approved and unapproved GM grains commingled with other products have occurred for multiple commodities and throughout the value chain.

Many developing countries already employ successful coexistence strategies. China and India both successfully produce and export both GM and non-GM cotton.

South Africa has produced GM crops for more than 10 years and also has a functional biosafety system to manage the risk related to the use of GM products. South Africa successfully trades both GM and non-GM crops using an IP system despite sharing borders with several countries that have banned GM products

We cannot hope to achieve international food security without biotechnology. Moreover, as incomes in the developing world rise, consumer demand for specialised agricultural products, like organics, will undoubtedly grow. Agriculture markets may be unable to meet this demand unless we can effectively manage conventional agricultural products alongside GMOs.

Read more at International Center For Trade And Sustainable Development.