Despite GMO Bt insect-resistant cotton approval, Ethiopia still skittish about widespread biotech crop cultivation

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The Ethiopian government has denied approving the commercial cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) other than two Bt cotton varieties.

An official from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) told BBC Amharic that the recent report about the country opening its agricultural sector to GM crops was not entirely true. Esayas Lemma, Director of Crop Development Directorate at Ministry of Agriculture, was quoted as saying that even though Ethiopia has approved two GMOs varieties of cotton for use only by investors of large plantation[s], this does not mean that the country has approved all GMO crops.

“The two cotton varieties that we have brought from India have been successful and have been authorized. But we have not allowed other crops as they did in other countries,” he said.

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Ethiopia has long been resisting GMOs, despite intensive lobby from multi-national giants. However, in 2014, it approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified Bt cotton and field research on GM maize. Following two years of confined field trials, the Bt-Cotton has secured the approval from the Ethiopia Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in June 2018 for “environmental release.”

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