What is in this article?:
- Biotech crop barriers must fall in Africa
- Aid versus trade
- If Africa is ever going to feed itself, it will to have to beat the odds–and adopt the same tools that are taken for granted in so much of the developed world. That means access to seeds improved with biotechnology.
Aid versus trade
The choice is between aid and trade, and this is no choice at all. We must embrace agricultural growth. We shouldn’t struggle to feed our fellow Africans, but should grow so much that we export our crops around the world.
GM technology is not a panacea. It won’t solve all of our problems. African farmers face a long series of challenges, from an inadequate infrastructure to political corruption. Yet access to the latest crop technologies will give us a fighting chance, especially as the climate changes and we try to adapt to new and possibly harder conditions. Drought-resistant plants represent an especially hopeful opportunity.
Too much of Africa missed out on the Green Revolution. We cannot afford to let Africa ignore the Gene Revolution. Unfortunately, many people, especially in Europe, don’t want us to benefit from these developments. It reminds me of the worst aspects of South African apartheid
In 1976, I quit high school to become an anti-apartheid activist, thinking that liberation was more important than education. They’re both essential, of course, and I’m proud to say that over time we saw Nelson Mandela go free and now many of us actually own the land we work. I’m no longer a second-class citizen, but a proud South African with my own passport.
But those were tough times. As a protestor, I was detained by authorities. My brother was beaten. He still has a dent in his skull from that experience. Just thinking about those times brings back memories of pain.
Now we face a new kind of imperialism–an international eco-imperialism that seems to think African farmers should remain poor and desperate, while the rest of the world flourishes. This new breed of activist seeks to keep GM crops away from African farmers and hamper the sale of our GM food to customers in other countries. Almost nothing could be more harmful.
I look forward to a different kind of future, when Africans refuse to let others push us around. We should demand nothing but the best. For those of us who produce the food, that means full access to biotechnology.
Mr. Motlatsi Musi grows maize, beans, potatoes, breeding pigs and cows on 21 hectares he acquired in 2004 through the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development Program (LRAD) in South Africa. Mr. Musi is a member of the TATT Global Farmer Network (www.truthabouttrade.org)