Africa biotech setback: Tanzania suspends GM crop research, ending trials of insect-resistant corn and virus-resistant cassava

px Maize farming in drought areas
Credit: Wiki Commons

Agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda made the announcement on [January 12] at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Mikocheni centre in Dar es Salaam, saying the decision has been made to conserve genetic resources of the country and local seed varieties.

This implies that the drought-tolerant GMO maize trial that has been ongoing …. and another for cassava at TARI Mikocheni will halt operations forthwith. The maize project sought to tackle periodic infestation of fall armyworm while the cassava trial was meant to end diseases such as the brown streak virus.

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The minister raised concerns over the negative impact of GMO on farmers, saying that if the nation lets free entrance of foreign seeds, “there will be seed market dominance by a few agricultural companies with local farmers forced to buy from them every year hence creating seed dependence.”

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“As of now, this is the government position. We shall conduct other types of agriculture research activities to improve our seeds and increase yield and productivity through conventional methods but not GMO research,” he elaborated.

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