Nelly Bassily | January 18, 2010
In Zimbabwe, imported genetically modified maize sells for about 60 American dollars per tonne (about 42 Euros). That’s just a fraction of what it costs local farmers to produce the same quantity of maize. A national farmers union says that imported GM crops threaten their livelihoods. They are withholding their grain production in protest.
Robert Marapira is acting president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union. He says local farmers want to make a profit. But when the government allows GM crops to be imported, this is not possible.
Members of the farmers union have agreed not to sell their crops through the government’s Grain Marketing Board. According to Mr. Marapira, millions of tonnes of maize are being withheld.
Under Zimbabwe’s laws, it is illegal to grow GM crops in the country. There is no ban on the import of GM produce.
The use of genetically-modified (GM) crops remains one of the most hotly-debated topics in African agriculture. While this news story highlights the potential of imported GM crops to distort national markets, this is only one of many concerns that some farmers, environmentalists, and other activists have raised. Some of these concerns are discussed in the following FRW news stories:
-“Benin: A cautious approach in the midst of the heated debate on GMOs” (Issue #16, March 2008)
-“South Africa: Farmers reject GM potato” (Issue #38, September 2008)
-“ Kenya: Kibaki gives seal of approval on biosafety law for the production and use of genetically modified crops” (Issue #56, February 2009)
-“South Africa: GM crop problems called ‘failure of biotechnology’” (Issue #63, April 2009)
-The Food and Agriculture Organization has prepared a list of arguments for and against GMOs, as follows:
-Arguments for: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo7.htm
-Arguments against: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo8.htm