Africa has emerged as the ‘final frontier’ in the global debate over the potential for Genetically Modified (GM) crops to alleviate poverty and hunger for smallholder farmers. Proponents argue that GM crops represent one of the most promising means of improving yields and livelihoods across the continent, and have invested over half a billion dollars in these new technological possibilities under the banner of Africa’s ‘Gene’ Revolution. Opponents voice concerns over intellectual property, adverse health and environmental impacts, and the increasing control of multi-national corporations over the continent’s food supply. Both sides have worked hard to frame the terms of this polarized debate, the result being they often speak past one another, rarely engaging in meaningful dialogue.
This research project seeks to bridge this gap by assessing the ecological, social and political factors that are shaping Africa’s ‘Gene’ Revolution, and evaluating whether Genetically Modified crops constitute an appropriate technology for African farmers. It will consider the full range GM crops in commercial use and in the experimental pipeline in order to offer a rigorous analysis of whether these technologies can help smallholder African farmers.