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Crop Biotech Update

Biotech and Organic Agriculture Proponents Have to Work Together to Boost Africa's Food Security

April 20, 2012

Proponents of both agricultural biotechnology and organic agriculture have no choice but work together in Africa if the continent is to achieve food security. These were the sentiments of Dr. Clive James, the founder and Chair of ISAAA while making a keynote presentation  (OFAB) in Nairobi 18th of April 2012.

"We have to use the best of agricultural biotechnology and organic agricultural technology and create effective synergies to ensure that we stand up to the task of feeding Africa's rapidly growing population projected to hit 1.9 billion by 2050 according to the UN Population Fund. Conventional agriculture will not do this alone and neither is agricultural biotechnology a panacea to addressing this challenge".

Dr. James expressed these sentiments while making his presentation on the prospects of biotech crops in the attainment of the millennium development goals by African countries. Dr. James assertions were drawn from the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops 2011 report, published by ISAAA each year since 1996.

"African countries like Kenya which is planning to commercialize its first GM crop by 2014 could emulate the example already being set by Brazil which is also a developing country in the world but is harnessing the best of both agricultural biotechnology and organic agriculture to feed its huge population. Brazil also earns about striking sums in revenue from commercialized biotech crops. In 2010 alone they made an earned a remarkable revenue of US$1.2 billion!"

Dr. James noted that Kenya in particular was well on its way to reaping such a windfall when it commercializes Bt cotton in 2014. "The time is right, the political leaders are receptive and the scientists and farmers are rearing to go!" said Dr. James as he closed his presentation at the OFAB session.

For more news about biotechnology in Africa, contact Dr. Margaret Karembu, director of ISAAA AfriCenter at m.karembu@isaaa.org.