The narrative of a poor hungry Africa makes good TV (does it?). The paradox is that for many Africans, drought is a way of life. That is why I was flabbergasted when anti-GM groups criticized the South African government for approving a new maize drought trait. Thank God they are not in government.
Was it blind criticism or a calculated decision to hide the information that the drought tolerant and insect protection technologies would be provided to smallholder farmers at no additional cost? A royalty-free arrangement ensures that smallholder farmers purchasing either the conventionally bred or GM maize varieties, will not pay an additional technology fee or have to enter into a technology-use agreement with the technology developer.
Anti-GM groups conveniently left out the fact that smallholder farmers will get access to modern, high yielding maize varieties royalty-free. That means that farmers will not have to pay any additional fees for using these improved seeds and should be able to purchase the new varieties at more or less the same price as existing maize varieties.
The current approval paves the way for the next stage of extensive testing with the drought trait, to stack it with the insect protection, or Bt trait, in the maize. Hopefully, in not-too-distant-future, farmers in South Africa will have maize hybrid seeds that combine the drought-tolerant and insect-protection traits.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Africa Excited About Drought-Resistant Corn (Not Anti-GM Activists)