Term Paper: Genetically Modified (GM) Foods

Pages: 6 (2317 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Agriculture  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Certainly, these new caveats bring more credence to the arguments of the critics of GM food aid to Africa.

Ultimately, the debate over whether genetically modified foods are harmful to human health or the environment will continue until there is convincing evidence on either side. To date, that evidence is unavailable, and the debate continues (New Scientist Editorial: End this phony war). As such, the specific debate whether African nations should accept U.S. GM food aid is also likely to be convincingly resolved given the absence of evidence about genetically modified foods.

It is important to note that the entire debate surrounding genetically modified foods in Africa must take into consideration some uniquely African problems. Importantly, Africa's desperate need to feed its large population is one of these most important considerations, in addition to the relative poverty of the African nations. Notes Thomson, "GM crops and foods are just one part of the overall strategy to ensure sufficient food for South Africa and the rest of the continent. Europe has enough food - they don't need genetically modified foods. But we have different needs. Don't throw out genetically modified foods simply because other countries don't want them."

Political and economic concerns often underlie the reasons for rejecting GM food in Africa. For example, Zambia's decision to reject growing genetically modified foods as aid was motivated by political and economic reasons, rather than simple health and environmental concerns, notes Meron Tesfa Michael. The Zambian Vice President notes that Zambia may lose its European market for produce if it starts growing genetically modified foods. In addition, many African agriculture experts fear that biotechnology companies could implant a "terminator" gene in GM seeds, which prevents small farmers from replanting, making the farmers dependent on biotech companies (Meron Tesfa Michael).

Notably, American President George Bush has noted that the European Union's opposition to genetically modified foods has poisoned many African countries to reject GM food aid. As a result, Bush notes that the EU ban on GM food may be contributing to African famine (Brissenden).

McAfee notes that the dispute over Africa's rejection of GM food from the U.S. is also a debate over cultural and economic sovereignty. She wonders if "countries and farmers in a globalize economy retain any choice over what they eat, what they produce and what kind of agriculture systems they employ?" She also notes that in offering genetically modified foods to Africa, the U.S. is actually creating patterns of dependence, undermining rural farming, and puts farmers in developing countries out of work. Instead, she notes that the U.S. should provide "support for infrastructure, inputs, marketing, fair pricing, and farmer-centered research on sustainable farm management and local crop improvement."


In conclusion, the debate over African nations refusing U.S. GM food aid encompasses a much larger scope than the Western debate over genetically modified foods. Not only must African nations consider the same human health and environmental implications of GM food as their Western counterparts, but African countries must also negotiate a minefield of political and economic concerns unique to the region. Ultimately, the decision to reject or accept U.S. GM food aid in Africa is a complex issue.

Works Cited

Batalion, Nathan. 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods. 05 November 2003. http://www.cqs.com/50harm.htm

Bhattacharya, Shaoni. New Scientist Online News 14:06-25 June 03. 05 November 2003. http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=ns99993874

Brissenden, Michael. U.S.-EU war over genetically modified food intensifies. The World Today - Wednesday, 25 June, 2003 12:45:00. Transcript. 05 November 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2003/s888140.htm

Coghan, Andy. New Scientist Online News 19:00-29 January 03. 05 November 2003. http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=ns99993317

Knight, Will. Zambia bans GM food aid. New Scientist Online News 17:09-30 October 02. 05 November 2003. http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=ns99992990

McAfee, Kathleen. Genetically Modified Morals: A Global Food Fight. Common Dreams News Center. International Herald Tribune. 05 November 2003. http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0613-09.htm

Meron Tesfa Michael. Southern Africa Bites the Bullet on Genetically Modified Food Aid. Sept. 26, 2002. World Press in Review: Online. 05 November 2003. http://www.worldpress.org/Africa/737.cfm

New Scientist Editorial: End this phony war. New Scientist 14 June 2003. 05 November 2003. http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=23990100

New Scientist Editorial: Worlds apart. New Scientist 09 February 2002. 05 November 2003. http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/gm/gm.jsp?id=23290100SCOPEResearch Group. FAQ About GM Food. 05 November 2003. http://scope.educ.washington.edu/gmfood/faq.php

Thomson, Jennifer A. The Genetically Modified Foods Debate in South Africa. O5 November 2003. http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/gmos.htm

Whitman, Deborah B. Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. 05 November 2003. http://www.csa.com/hottopics/gmfood/overview.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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