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GM crops in AfricaThe IFPRI book “GMO crops in Africa – Economic and policy lessons for countries South of the Sahara” edited by José Falck-Zepeda, Guillaume Gruere and Idah Sithole-Niang will be available for free at IFPRI’s site within a few weeks from now. I will let you know as soon as I have a link.

Here are some general lessons learned as described in the book:

Opportunities for African Farmers South of the Sahara

The first main lesson is that, based on available data and published studies, current GM crops have had on average a positive economic effect in African countries south of the Sahara, but the magnitude and distribution of their potential economic benefits for farmers highly depend on the crop, trait, and especially the institutional setting in which the technology is introduced.

Challenges Ahead

The second main lesson is that there are insufficient efforts in public and private biotechnology development in Africa, and that one of the main constraints is related to the policy environment.

The third lesson is that evolving biosafety regulations in African countries south of the Sahara, which tend to determine the degree of deployment of GM crops in the region, appear to be based on a highly costly, European precautionary approach, despite clearly diverging agricultural and development priorities.

The fourth lesson is that the alleged short-term export risks due to potential market losses in Europe and other GM-averse countries may have been exaggerated and need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and that the upcoming challenges of market access and import regulations call for regional integration of GM  trade regulations.

The last lesson is that the level of awareness of GM crops appears to be low among surveyed consumers. In addition, acknowledging this low awareness and he limitation it may confer on survey results, and the fact that only one study is included here, GM technology seems to be generally well accepted among surveyed consumers, but urban (especially high-income) consumers appear to have a lower acceptance of GM food than do rural consumers. If confirmed this low acceptance may create significant challenges on the road to commercialization of potentially promising GM crops, especially food crops and those crops developed by public-sector research.