GENTECH archive 8.96-97



Being relatively new to this list I might have missed the connection between 
looted crops and GMO's.

However, having worked in Africa for over 15 years in FAO sponsored agric 
programs I refuse the notion that there exists such a thing as SUB Saharan 
Africa. The vast area south of the Sahara has a tremendous variety of 
climates, economies and forms of farming.
Knowing also the US press coverage very well, the average American citizen has 
a completely distorted view of Africa. Africa is more than CNN pictures of 
looted fields and dying children!
Most of sub-saharan Africa is going through a phase of unprecedented peace and 
growing prosperity. This is confirmed by several new studies on African 
economy as reported in newspapers and authorative magazines.

Without wanting to go into a deep discussion about commercial vs subsistence 
farming and the progress made in Africa thanks to better availability of 
modern inputs, I would like to make the point in favour for the introduction 
of GMO's in the African agriculture.
>From my own experience, in corn, the message is "treat or don't eat".
Whereas in the USA and Europe, the effect of corn borers on yield is 
measurable and Bt corn will replace chemical usage, the question of chemical 
use or GMO's in corn will not affect the food supply as such. In sub-saharan 
Africa however, corn is attacked by the african corn borer species at a much 
earlier stage (knee-high) and non treatment will result in no harvest.
The result is that corn is systematically treated with rather toxic chemicals
(in case of machine planting with Furadan granules) or in the case of small 
holders, by hand. This treatment is normally done by women and children who 
handle the products without any protection.
Trials with GMO Bt corn in South Africa and Zimbabwe have shown excellent 
control of african borer species without the need for chemical input.

Other staple crops for which GE solutions are near include cowpeas and 
GE projects also include possible salt tolerance in crops which would allow a 
lot of now marginal land to become productive.

These developments are strongly supported by the African countries themselves 
who want to benefit from modern GE techniques.

Edo Lin

Ron Ratney wrote:
By the same token, the preservation of biodiversity should take
precedence over self indulgent utopian visions of feeding the world
without modern farming and biotechnology.

Dear Ron,

Your perceptions need tuning...Everybody is wrong by Ron...Every nation
is savage except for America.  Do you really think that farmers in
Sub-Saharan African nations plant seeds with pointy sticks?

It does not take more than one season of looting to teach these farmers
that entire harvests, once looted, cannot feed or pay the farmer's
family.  Ron?  Genetically engineered crops are looted or burn the same
way as normal wholesome grains and veggies.

There are no subsidies or incentives for farmers to not grow crops as
there are in the United States.  As a matter of fact, why the hell do we
still offer such incentive programes here (on one hand), and then give
tax breaks to biotech firms to find ways to produce more food?

You and Jimmy Carter should visit these nations and see the vast and
barren fields which have been abandoned.  Perhaps we can genetically
engineer (and clone) kinder and gentler war lords!

Robert Cohen

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