Africa needs a GM revolution

Paul Collier savages Prince Charles for advocating medieval peasant farming, and points out that it is not a solution for hunger in Africa.

The GM ban has three adverse effects. It has retarded productivity in European agriculture; grain production could be increased by about 15% were the ban lifted. More subtly, because Europe is out of the market for GM technology, the pace of research has slowed. GM research takes a long time to come to fruition, and its core benefit – the permanent reduction of global food prices – cannot fully be captured through patents. European governments should be funding this research, but it is entirely reliant on the private sector. Private money for research depends on the prospect of sales, so the ban has not only blocked public research – it has reduced private research. …

…. It is conventional to say that Africa needs a green revolution. The reality is that the green revolution was based on chemical fertilisers, and even when fertiliser was cheap, Africa did not adopt it. With the rise in fertiliser costs as a byproduct of high energy prices, any green revolution will perforce not be chemical. What African agriculture needs is a biological revolution. This is what GM offers, if only sufficient money is put into research. There has as yet been no work on the crops specific to the region, such as cassava and yams.

Mainstream scientists have responded to Priince Charles that GM offers the opportunity to redistribute wealth to feed the poor. With the right investments in technology, Africa could not only feed itself, it could be a major food producer for the rest of the world. GM corn in Africa produces four times as much corn per acre (and the corn can be protected from witchweed, unlike the previous varieties).

4 thoughts on “Africa needs a GM revolution”

  1. Pingback: Paul Collier’s dubious vision for developing country agriculture : Global Dashboard

  2. Pingback: Greens Kill!

  3. “A pretty powerful counter-argument is made by Dr Vandana Shiva”

    If so, where does the good Doctor make such an argument? Your link pointed to an evidence-free rant.

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