Genetically modified (GMO) crops have more unknowns than knowns. Yet the South African government whole-heartily embraces this technology in the production of food crops, particularly maize, a staple food in South Africa.
The South African pro-GMO lobby is very proud of the fact that South Africa is the eighth biggest GMO producer in the world among the 13 largest biotechnology-producing countries. They also make claims that this technology is accepted worldwide, however many African countries have put a ban on GMO foods and in Europe, countries like Switzerland have put a moratorium on GMOs.
The South African public was not part of the decision-making to adopt this technology in something that is as fundamental as food production and consumption. It is only through the efforts of organisations such as Biowatch, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (SAFeAGE) and others that a critical awareness of the implications of GMOs has been created.
Stephen Greenberg, rural development researcher and writer makes a relevant point on the introduction of new technology, “Before a new technology is introduced, it is necessary to ask whether it meets the requirements of greater choice and greater control over resources and production decisions by those who use the technology, and by those who will bear the consequences (positive or negative) of the use of that technology.”
Evidence suggests that neither primary producers, in particular, poor producers such as small-scale farmers nor food consumers are likely to benefit from the introduction of GMO technology in agriculture either in the medium or long term.
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