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GM Crops for Food Security in Africa – The Path Not Yet Taken


  • Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Amy Orr

    (The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs)

  • Amy Orr

    (The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs)


There is little disagreement about investing in agricultural technology – and the need to reverse the decline experienced over the 1980’s and 1990s – as a priority for improving food security in Africa. Food security is not just about production or supply of food but access. In sub-Saharan Africa, increasing productivity has a particularly important role for improving food security because the majority of the hungry are in fact producers (Millennium Project 2004 p. 45-46). But there is no agreement about the role of agricultural biotechnology in the strategy for enhancing productivity. The issue is mired in controversy that has become driven by polemics, pitting multinational corporations against anti-globalization and environmental movements. Debates about agricultural biotechnology, and particularly GM crops, for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa needs to be re-centered on considering the potential of this technology in improving productivity of small scale, resource constrained farmers. But to do so cannot be based on scientific considerations alone, it must also consider the broader social, economic and political context necessary for achieving food security. While the proponents of the technology argue about the scientific merits, those who oppose its spread argue about the shift in power structures that the technology would bring about.

Suggested Citation

  • Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Amy Orr & Amy Orr, 2012. "GM Crops for Food Security in Africa – The Path Not Yet Taken," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2012-018, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rac:wpaper:2012-018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Norman Uphoff, 2007. "Agroecological alternatives: Capitalising on existing genetic potentials," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 218-236.
    2. Juma, Calestous, 2011. "The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199783199.
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    More about this item


    Agricultural biotechnology; genetically modified foods; technology and society; economic development and agriculture; agricultural policy; technological innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D


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