Crop Biotech Update

Malawi President Endorses Use of Agricultural Biotechnology

May 25, 2012

The new President of Malawi, Her Excellency Joyce Banda has endorsed the use of modern biotechnology in the country's plans to spur agricultural productivity. In her maiden "State of the Nation" speech to parliament, on 18 May 2012, she said that her government will encourage technology and innovation adaptation by promoting and supporting genetic modification in agriculture.

"With modern biotechnology, farmers will not be troubled to weed their gardens; they will not have to buy pesticides; and genetic modification will help improve soil carbon and moisture content," she noted. The President also pointed out the fact that genetically modified crops are pest resistant, require fewer chemicals and are normally drought resistant, thereby virtually guaranteeing increased yields for Malawian farmers. At the moment, Malawian scientists are involved in research on Bt cotton and are set to initiate confined field trials in September 2012.

The Government of Malawi has also put in place a functional biosafety regulatory system with a National Biosafety Regulatory Committee (NBRC) to provide oversight over the country's biotechnology sector. Malawi is also among a growing number of African countries with a Biosafety Act passed in 2002 and a functional Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy enacted in 2008.

To read president Banda's full speech, go to http://www.nyasatimes.com/malawi/2012/05/18/malawi-president-bandas-state-of-the-nation-address-in-full/ (Section on agriculture and food security).