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Developing GM super cassava for improved health and food security: future challenges in Africa

Author(s): Adenle Ademola A | Aworh Ogugua C | Akromah Richard | Parayil Govindan

Journal: Agriculture & Food Security
ISSN 2048-7010

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: GM biofortified cassava | Health | Food security | Policy | Scientists | Africa | BioCassava Plus (BC+)

Abstract Background There is an urgent need to solve the problem of micronutrient malnutrition that is prevalent among young children and women in Africa. Genetically modified (GM) biofortified cassava has great potential to solve part of this problem, but controversy surrounding GM technology and lack of awareness, limited facilities, biased news and other factors may hinder the adoption of GM cassava in the future. Method Using semi-structured interviews in Ghana and Nigeria, this paper examines the perspectives of scientists, including the BioCassava Plus (BC+) team, on the potential adoption of GM cassava for improving health and food security in Africa. The article also examines issues around the regulatory system and transfer and acceptance of GM cassava among scientists. Results and discussion The result suggests that an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that GM biofortified cassava will benefit the health of millions in Africa, and that GM cassava conferred with disease and pest resistance will increase cassava production as it is currently plagued by cassava mosaic diseases (CMD). However, respondents are wary of long-term effects of GM cassava on the environment and lack of a regulatory framework to facilitate the adoption of GM cassava. Even though scientists expressed little or no concern about health risks of GM cassava, they were concerned that consumers may express such concerns given limited understanding of GM technology. Conclusion The article concludes with a summary of priorities for policy development with regard to adopting biofortified food products.
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