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October 19, 2009

'Africa resistant to GMOs because of relationship with EU'

Europe's cautious approach to genetically modified crops is having a negative effect on agriculture in Africa, according to a group of farmers. A delegation of African farmers met with EU policymakers in Brussels to discuss the role of biotechnology in tackling the food crisis.

Motlatsi Everest Musi, a small-scale maize farmer in South Africa, has been cultivating genetically modified Bt-maize since 2005. He told reporters at a EuropaBio event that growing the technology had boosted his profits and enabled him to expand his business. Musi said he had come to Brussels "to share my experience and to send a message to Europeans that Africa seems to be reluctant to grow genetically modified seeds because they don't want to lose their relationship with Europe".

Musi, who acquired 21 hectares of land through South Africa's land redistribution for agricultural development programme in 2004, said his yield had increased by 34 per cent after switching to Bt-maize. However, he raised concerns that the number of countries growing GM grains was decreasing because Africa did not want to jeopardise its friendship with Europe.

The executive director of the African agricultural technology foundation (AATF), Daniel Fungai Mataruka, agreed that the perception of GM in Africa was influenced by the EU.

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