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The disputes that surround the possible risks of GM technology, have been the cause of considerable public concern in several countries. The advent of GM foods has resulted in different policy responses in various parts of the world and has led to trade disputes between members of the World Trade Organization. Strong consumer skepticism on genetic engineering, especially in Europe, can also affect the trading environment within which developing countries have to compete. The socio-political disputes in northern countries can significantly influence the policies on GMO issues in countries in the south. Accordingly, this study aimed to shed light on the role of national and international organizations in developing countries' choices with regard to GMOs and to propose potential solutions addressing the GMO dilemma in developing countries. The study concluded that governments and international bodies need to take the public's concerns into account when elaborating risk-related regulations and when dealing with trade disputes. It is recommended that international and appropriate non-governmental organizations that monitor agricultural policy development, evaluate the outcomes and effects of regulatory policies regarding the adoption of GM crops in developing countries.
The introductory chapter to the book sets the scene by explaining the need for increased agricultural production in developing countries to meet the needs of a growing population. One of the technologies that could help achieve this aim is the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as well as some other new breeding techniques that are now challenging the definition of what is meant by a GMO. However, the introduction of appropriate regulation and governance of GMOs in developing countries is in many cases proving challenging and preventing their successful introduction. The chapter outlines some of the regulatory issues at international level that are impacting on the situation in developing countries.
The introductory chapter outlines the structure of the book, which is divided into four main sections: Risk analysis methodology and decision making; Diversification of expertise; Risk analysis based regulatory systems; and Case studies from developing countries. A brief introduction to each of the following chapters in the book is provided.
GMOs remain controversial around the world partly due to the fragmented authoritarian framework set up for their risk analysis. To formally explore some of the challenges that are associated with the risk analysis, detailed interviews were conducted with 16 leading experts on politics, barriers and governance process of GMOs at the national and international levels. The results of the interviews revealed some of the barriers to GMO regulation and risk analysis. This chapter argues that the precautionary principle still remains a big barrier particularly in the way it has been interpreted or used by regulators and environmental activists to undermine the application of GMOs around the world particularly in developing countries. Competing interests among different organisations especially private sector and government agencies also make risk analysis procedures more complex as reflected in regulatory mechanisms and procedures adopted in different countries. The possible implications of current GMO policy on emerging technologies such as gene editing are discussed. Finally the chapter concludes with recommendations and suggests a possible way forward.
The concluding chapter starts by contextualizing the GMO debate within the context of the need for sustainable agricultural intensification and the challenge of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. It discusses some of the key messages that arise from the preceding chapters. These include the fact that genetically improved crops that are locally important for developing countries have not yet been successful in reaching the market place, in considerable measure due to strict risk-averse legislation founded on the Precautionary Principle on which the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is based. While there is excessive focus on risk, the benefits of the technology are generally not being considered by regulators, and are not being adequately communicated to the public. The situation is not helped by the focus on process-based legislation (focusing on the genetic modification) rather than on the nature of the resulting product. Developing countries continue to need appropriately focused capacity development to enable them to adequately deal with these issues.The chapter concludes with a set of recommendations for scientists, government officials, donors, the media and international bodies, which we believe would help to break the current impasse in the introduction of GMOs.
Bringing together the ideas of experts from around the world, this incisive text offers cutting-edge perspectives on the risk analysis and governance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), supporting effective and informed decision-making in developing countries. Comprised of four comprehensive sections, this book covers: integrated risk analysis and decision making, giving an overview of the science involved and examining risk analysis methods that impact decision-making on the release of GMOs, particularly in developing countries; diversification of expertise involved in risk analysis and practical ways in which the lack of expertise in developing countries can be overcome; risk analysis based regulatory systems and how they can be undermined by power relationships and socio-political interests, as well as strategies for improving GMO policy development and regulatory decision-making; and case studies from developing countries providing lessons based on real-world experience that can inform our current thinking.
The adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops is currently limited to a few African countries such as South Africa, Sudan and Burkina Faso partly due to lack of functional biosafety systems and precautionary principles invoked by many Africa countries. Out of these three countries, Burkina Faso is the only West African country growing a GM crop on a commercial basis. This chapter discusses the achievement of Burkina Faso with Bt cotton; especially how it has benefitted small-scale farmers; how Burkina Faso became a showcase for GM technology in Africa; the current scenario of the technology in West Africa with focus on Burkina Faso's experience; and developments coming from other West African countries, specifically Ghana and Nigeria. The chapter describes the challenges of adoption of GM technology, citing the example of Bt cotton qualities, as recently revealed in Burkina Faso and how this may affect other countries' uptake of GM technology in the sub-region. Finally, the chapter emphasises the need to increase the level of expertise in biosafety areas and strengthen the scientific community by investing in modern biotechnology R&D programmes.