Status of development, regulation and adoption of GM agriculture in Africa: Views and positions of stakeholder groups

The use of genetically modified (GM) crop technology in tackling food security problems and poverty reduction in Africa continues to generate debates over its benefits and safety. Only four countries, South Africa, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Egypt have commercialized GM crops in Africa but controversy surrounds current cultivation of GM maize in Egypt. Our study provides new perspectives on the status, development and regulation of GM crops through examining the views of 305 stakeholders in six African countries across four regions: South Africa, Kenya (East Africa), Egypt and Tunisia (North Africa), Ghana and Nigeria (West Africa), supplemented by interviews with relevant international organizations. The study revealed the challenges leading to the development of biosafety regulatory frameworks and the role of individual stakeholders in the facilitation of GM crops across African countries. This study also revealed that some countries may go through a Fiber–Feed–Food (F3) approach to adopt GM crops where Bt cotton will be adopted first followed by GM crops for livestock feed while undergoing all the necessary assessments before producing GM foods for human consumption. An overwhelming majority of stakeholders placed emphasis on risk analysis (risk assessment and management) in view of limited capacity, lack of scientific expertise and public concern, and encouraged a centralized approach to risk assessment similar to the European Union model of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).