By Barbara Nyende
Nairobi 25 March 2014- African nations are showing confidence in genetically modified crops and adapting to their use, according to a report that was released recently by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) in Nairobi.
More countries are now resorting to genetically modified crops since they yield better results as compared to the conventional crops. Crops such as maize have been modified genetically for drought tolerance.
“Biotech crops have great impacts in the continent and will help in poverty alleviation,” said Dr. Margret Karembu the director of ISAAA Kenya. She was speaking recently during the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).
Dr. Margaret Karembu further said that more attention should be paid to biotech crops for food sustainability.
Biotech scientists say genetically modified crops have tremendous effects such as improved farm yields and farm income gains. Experts argue that GM crops need less pesticides making them friendly to the the environment compared to conventional crops.
African countries such as Burkina Faso, South Africa and South Sudan have started commercializing biotech crops such as cotton, maize and soy bean.
Kenya is among seven countries in Africa that are still conducting field trials on GM crops.
There has been significant rise use of Genetically Modified crops since the first commercialization in 1996 and hectarage has also increased from 1.7million hectares to 175million hectares globally according the latest Global Status on Commercialized Biotech Crops report.
During the meeting it also emerged that some African countries are still skeptical about the adoption of these biotech crops more so after the Serallini research paper that was published in 2012 linking Genetically Modified foods to cancer.
Kenya banned the importation of GM food into the country; a move that experts fear might hamper biotech research in the country.