“These GMO crops that are now being adopted will destroy our farming systems and livelihoods,” said Robson Nyatondo, a local farmer in Ward 19.
“What constitutes genetically modified crops and what are the implications for us local farmers who have been practising traditional farming methods for many years?” asked Sarah Nyagura of Mambemba village in Ward 22.
The government is revising the ban it imposed on genetically modified crops six years ago because it was not sure of its implications on farmers’ livelihoods and people’s health.
There have been fears that if indigenous knowledge systems are not preserved, technological advances in agriculture will phase out traditional outdoor farming by the middle of this century, creating ‘a world without farmers’.
“There are two categories of these new agricultural advances that will affect on-farm employment – genetic engineering aimed at improving farm production and biotechnology that seeks to produce agricultural commodities in the laboratory,” said DrChrispenSukume.
“The first category is the use of genetically engineered bovine growth hormones that force cows to produce 10 to 20 percent more milk and this has stirred controversy on dairy farms practicing this technology in industrialized countries,” he said.
Another is creating a tomato from enhanced genes as part of biotechnological experiments, but the results are controversial.
GMOS have already been adopted in three African countries through the New Economic Partnerships for Africa Development establishing research centres for biotechnology in Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Africa.
The economic impact on farmers is unknown as more and more companies shift to these modern technologies, resulting in thousands of jobs in agriculture being lost.
“There is need for national and international policies to regulate these new forms of technology. Companies should not be allowed to sell genetically engineered crops before safety regulations are put in place,” said Sukume.Post published in: News