Genetically Modified Crop Talks Put Tanzanians on Edge

Genetically Modified Crop Talks Put Tanzanians on Edge

From Des Moines Register

A typical Tanzanian family will not pass a day without eating ugali — a stiff porridge made from ground corn, somewhat like Italian polenta.

Would Tanzanians eat ugali if the flour came from genetically modified corn?

Tension over that question is tearing at the country, with scientists insisting the answer should be “yes,” while GM foes say, “No way!”

Most of Tanzania’s corn is grown by smallholder farmers who typically plant seeds from traditional varieties and rely on natural rains. But the rains have failed them. The country’s 44 million people suffered severe droughts in 2003, 2005 and 2011. Millions needed food handouts to survive.

Beyond drought, local scientists say this basic crop also is threatened by climate change, disease and pests.

Genetic modification could help overcome those problems, scientists say. The technology has been adopted by more than 17 million farmers in other countries.

Under current government regulations, though, Tanzanian scientists cannot conduct field trials with GM plants. And farmers cannot cultivate any crop developed with the new biotechnology.

Read more at desmoinesregister.com