1834478281842GEO 426: Environmental, Sustainability and ResourcesAfrica needs to
1834478281842GEO 426: Environmental, Sustainability and ResourcesAfrica needs to work with farmers and MNCs to increase the use of GM cropsRachel Tan (50250437) Instructor: Miss Jessica GilberDate/Day: 21 November 2018/WednesdayTable of Contents 1.0 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………..
32.0 Overview of Africa ………………………………………..……………….…… 33.0 GMF in Africa …………………………………….…………………………….
4 3.1 Advantages of GM crops for farmers …………………………………….. 4 3.
1 Disadvantages of GM crops for farmers ……………………..….……….. 54.
0 Impacts of GMF on Africa’s food future………………………………………… 75.0 Improvements to be Made ……………………………………………………… 7 6.0 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………….
8 7.0 References ………………………………………………………………………. 9 1.
0 Introduction Agriculture has been known to be a primary source of income as well as food for many living in developing countries (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). Many of these farmers work hard year round planting and harvesting their crops to not only be self sustainable but also have surplus to export and sell their crops. (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013).
However, due to natural disasters as well as pesticides and many other reasons, the yield of crops can be significantly affected and the livelihood of farmers can also be affected. In order to mitigate some of these issues, Genetically Modified Food (GMF) have been developed to have crop protection against pesticides and herbicides but also increase nutritional value and shelf life of these crops (WHO, 2014). GMFs are plants or animals that have had their genetic material modified such that the genetics that they have do not occur normally through reproduction or natural recombination (WHO, 2014). GMF have significantly increased crop yields and have also benefitted farmers in areas like Africa. An increase in yield of crops equals to an increase in revenue for farmers. This raises the question : Has GMF not only help increase crop yields for farmers in Africa but to what extent has GMF benefitted farmers and what does the future hold? Africa needs deliberate strategies to increase GM crops in Africa by working with their farmers and educating them as GM crops will benefit farmers and aid with food security.
In this paper, I will first cover brief overview of Africa, GMF in Africa, followed by the disadvantages of GMF. I will also look at the impact of GMF on Africa’s food future, followed by potential improvements that can be made and lastly conclude. 2.0 Overview of AfricaAfrica is known to suffer from one of the highest levels of poverty but at the same time has a high increase in population (Social Progress Index, 2018). As a result Africa suffers from a lack of resources. To further analyse this I would be looking at 3 main indexes: 1) basic human needs which looks at medical care, sanitation and shelter, 2) foundations of well-being which looks at education, access to technology, and life expectancy, and 3) opportunity, which looks at personal rights, freedom of choice, and general tolerance. Overall, Africa scores 66/100 ranking 77/146.
Africa scores 69.19 for basic human needs, 66.52 for foundations of well being and 62.33 for opportunity. There are high levels of death from infectious diseases and child death.
Africa also suffers from severe food shortage especially during seasons of drought and natural disasters (Social Progress Index, 2018). With this in mind, GM crops can cause great improvements because 60% or more of all Africans are still farmers who depend on their fields for income and subsistence. (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013).
3.0 GMF in Africa In Africa, GMF and GM crops has been around for a significant amount of time, some commercial crops include: soybean, maize and cotton (Bio watch, 2018). The first agreement for commercial use of GM crops was MON810 Yield Guard insect resistant maize in 1997 (Bio watch, 2018). Maize has been the primary food for most South Africans and is also used to feed livestock. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in Africa is backed by the government, universities, industries and agricultural college to not only further develop GMO but also help bring in more varieties of GMO in Africa. (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). GMO seeds are currently controlled by multinational corporations who hold the patents.
As a result, this puts farmers in a tough position as they can be easily manipulated and exploited by these corporations (Bio watch, 2018). 3.1 Advantages of GM crops for farmersOverall the purpose of GM crops is to increase profitability and productivity levels for farmers and so far it has helped farmers. Farmers can suffer from a lack of resources especially those living in rural areas. Hence, GM crops have a high adoption rate by farmers with limited resources (Acker, Rahman, Cici, 2017).
One of the biggest issues of farming are crops being destroyed as a result of pests. An average of 35% of crops is destroyed before being harvested due to pests (Popp, Károly, Nagy, 2012). Traditionally, farmers would use pesticides to keep pests away and herbicides to prevent weeds. Depending on the type of crops being planted, farmers would have to continuously add these chemicals. The amount of money spent on herbicides used to not only be costly but expensive as well. One major contribution to the development of GM crops is to protect crops from pesticides and herbicides. A research by Economic Research Service (ERS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) noticed a significant relationship between increased crop yields and increased adoption of herbicide and pesticide tolerant GM crop seeds (Acker, Rahman, Cici b wild , 2017).
With crops resistant to pests, the use of pesticides also decreases and hence exposure of chemicals for farmers and toxins released into the environment is also decreased significantly. Profits for farmers increase with the decrease spending on herbicides and pesticides. GM crops have a positive impact on the incomes of farmers. According to the world bank, increasing productivity of crops is perceived to be one of the crucial methods to help build a robust and resilient agriculture industry and significantly helps to increase rural income (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). With GM crops the harvest is greater than traditional seeds and hence, farmers have much more to export and trade. A study was done on how GM crops have impacted farmers and the results were: for poorer farmers in South Africa that adopted the GM crop: GM IR Maise they has the most income gain (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). Income gain could potentially lead to increase in purchasing power of families and could possibly increase the standard of living for farmers.
3.2 Disadvantages of GM crops for farmersThere are many controversies relating to GM crops as the seeds are controlled by large multinational corporation who are highly profit driven (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). One issue of GM crops is contamination of non GM crops as a result of pollen. Pollen can reach a field that has traditional organic crops by drifting and thus causes serious issues. This is because the seeds that farmers use are patented GM seeds from corporations, farmers can get the sued by these companies even if the pollen drifts into their field and this is not controllable (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013).
These lawsuits can be extremely costly and with long suspension of farmers from planting more crops they will be greatly affected (Foods, 2016). These farmers do not earn much from being in the agriculture industry, being faced with a law suit can greatly cripple farmer’s food supply and daily income to support their families. Another issue with regards to corporations owning the seeds is that farmers lose their rights with the seeds they have purchased from these corporations (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). Traditionally in Africa, farmers would help each other out by exchanging the seeds that they have with other farmer (Bio watch, 2018).
However, if they are now using GM seeds, this practice is against the law as the seeds are not owned by the farmers even if they purchase it. Farmers are also not allowed to save their seeds for replanting (Bio watch, 2018). This has a negative impact for farmers as now they are restricted to the seeds purchased from these MNCs and do not have the variety they used to have. This can result in over reliance on a particular GM crop. Another disadvantage is that GMF can contain few nutrients as compared to traditional crops. GM crops are focused on increasing productivity and profits as a result quality is compromised as quantity is preferred (Foods, 2016).
GMF foods have a reduction in antioxidant phytochemials which are mostly available in plant foods as a result of the modification. Antioxidant phytochemical can help prevent and reduce the chances of one getting chronic diseases. Many of these farmers consume some of the crops that they produce (Foods, 2016).
Many people living in rural areas of Africa suffer from a lack of nutrition, due to consuming GMF that have a decreased nutritional values. As a result, this increases health risk for the farmers and they are more prone to diseases and infections. (Foods, 2016). There are a few long term issues for farmers using GM crops. The first issue is that GM crops releases toxins into the soil.
This is especially so for BT corn (Bacillus Thuringensis Corn). Bacillus Thuringensis is a gene that produces protein toxins that destroys pests. However, it also releases toxin into the soil. When the levels of toxins continues to increase, the soil loses the ability to produce bacteria essential for plant growth and may affect future crops being planted and raises the risk of the soil being useless (Foods, 2016). Scientist also have a fear that GM crops may eventually be ineffective as pests that GM crops used to defer may adapt and potentially develop resistance towards the toxins.
(Foods, 2016). 4.0 Impact of GMF on Africa’s food future Overall we know that GMF have benefitted farmers and have helped increase incomes. But beyond the economic perspective, GMF also provides food security for Africa as a whole. With Africa’s growing population, the amount of food that is required also increases.
However, with climate change continuing to affect crops and yield, GMF seems to be the best option available (Falck-Zepeda, Gruère, Sithole, 2013). A article by the Washington Post mentioned with an increase in GM crops in Africa, during seasons of droughts yields can increase by 25% providing better food security so many do not go hungry during such seasons (Washington Post, 2013).5.0 Improvements/plans for the futureCurrently, only four nations in Africa have fully commercialised GM crops: South Africa, Egypt, Sudan and Burkina Faso. One main reason holding Africa back from GM crops, is the suspicion that MNCs have an ulterior motive of seeking for a piece of Africa’s fields to heavily commercialise and own (Washington Post, 2013).
Currently, much of Africa’s agriculture industry is owned by farmers that own less than two hectares of land each and these farmers mostly reply on non GM crops. (Washington Post, 2013). In Sub-Saharan Africa, less than one third of farmers used any type of genetically modified seeds (Washington Post, 2013). MNCs can try to connect and build relationship with local farmers. This way the farmers could possibly feel less exploited and trust the organisation due to the relationships being built. Another issue is that there is a lack of education to farmers with regards with GM crops.
Many farmers see it as a costly investment and may not be willing to place all of their eggs in one basket considering their difficult situation. The government or organisations can consider educating the farmers on the benefits of GM crops not only for the country but also how farmers can benefit directly (Levin, 2017).Lastly, many have the wrong idea of GM crops, including officials.
A government initiative called the “Public Understanding of Biotechnology”, discovered that of the 7,000 adults aged 16 and older that participated in the research, eight out of ten had little knowledge of what GMOs are (Levin, 2017). As mentioned, for GM crops to increase in Africa, government officials need to work hand in hand with farmers. (Levin, 2017). Firstly, officials need to break the mindset that GMO is bad for the country. (Levin, 2017).
The government perspective with regards to GM crops can cause a significant impact on the success of GM crops in the country. The focus can be on GM crops which can possibly decrease food shortage rather than the fact that it is bad. Moving on, deliberate effort should be taken to corporate with MNCs such as Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont to better support farmers.
(Levin, 2017). This works hand in hand with educating farmers on the benefits as well as new technology. With that farmers would feel more assured and be willing to plant GM crops. 6.0 Conclusion In conclusion, Africa needs GM crops to help with its growing population and also to counter dry seasons or natural disasters that may disrupt their crops and food supply. The focus needs to be on the large population of farmers and engaging them to switch to GM crops. There are many opportunities in store for the development of Africa if farmers are well informed of the benefits of GM crops and wrong perceptions are corrected.
Also it is extremely important that for this to be successful, the government, corporations and farmers need to work together and a deliberate effort needs to be put in to ensure the success of GM crops in Africa. 7.0 References2018 Social Progress Index. (2018). 2018 Social Progress Index. Retrieved from: https://.
www.socialprogress.org/?tab=2;code=ZAFAcker, R., Rahman, M., ; Cici, S.
(2017). Pros and Cons of GMO Crop Farming. Environmentalscience.oxfordre.com. Retrieved from: http://environmentalscience.
0001/acrefore-9780199389414-e-217Biowatch South Africa. (2018). Biowatch.org.za. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK ;http://www.biowatch.
org.za/list.php?cat=GM%20cropsFalck-Zepeda, J., Gruère, G., Sithole, I.
(2013) Genetically Modified crops in Africa. International. Food Policy Research Institute.
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ifpri.org/utils/getfile/collection/p15738coll2/id/127816/filename/128027.pdfFoods, 6. (2016). 6 Major Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Foods | Biology Explorer. Bio Explorer. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK ;https://www.
net/disadvantages-of-genetically-modified-foods.html/Levin, D. (26 July 2017). Op-Ed: GMOs could be the solution to Africa’s food shortages. CNBC Africa. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbcafrica.
com/featured/2017/07/26/op-ed-gmos-solution-africas-food-shortages/Popp, J., Károly, P., Nagy, J. (October 2012) Pesticide productivity and food security. INRA. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK "https://link.
com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs13593-012-0105-x.pdfQ&A: genetically modified food. (May, 2018). World Health Organization.
Retrieved from: HYPERLINK "http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/"http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/Staropoli, N. (9 June 2016) Are there environmental and economic benefits to GMO crops?.
Genetic Literacy project. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK "https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/06/08/environmental-economic-benefits-gmo-crops-study-claims-150-billion-since-96/"https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/06/08/environmental-economic-benefits-gmo-crops-study-claims-150-billion-since-96/The Washington Post.
(22 October. 2013). Genetically modified crops should be a part of Africa’s food future.
The Washington Post. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK ;https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/genetically-modified-crops-should-be-part-of-africas-food-future/2013/10/22/e9b35488-37f5-11e3-ae46-e4248e75c8ea_story.html?utm_term=.9a28150e3983;https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/genetically-modified-crops-should-be-part-of-africas-food-future/2013/10/22/e9b35488-37f5-11e3-ae46-e4248e75c8ea_story.html?utm_term=.9a28150e3983