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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on genetically modified crops

Genetically modified crops are slowly making their way into Africa. Kenya, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt have biotechnology laws that allow the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops.

But the debate is still deeply divided. While those in favour of biotechnology are convinced that GM crops will help guarantee food supplies, even in times of drought, many people argue against their use, maintaining that the impact of GM crops on human health and the environment is still unknown. Also, farmers may lose control over seed with the introduction of GM crops, which many see as a threat to food security in general.

For more information on PELUM Uganda, visit: http://www.pelumuganda.org/index.php
Here are some recent news stories from East Africa on the rise of GM crops:
-Uganda, Tanzania for GM crops http://busiweek.com/11/news/uganda/879-uganda-tanzania-for-gm-crops
-Uganda starts ’historic’ trials on GM staple crops http://www.rss.scidev.net/en/news/uganda-starts-historic-trials-on-gm-staple-crops.html

-Kenya: Consider access to seeds before embracing GMOs http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/agriculture/InsidePage.php?id=2000034513&cid=465&story=Consider+access+to+seeds+before+embracing+GMOs

-Kenyan Farmers Root for Organic http://www.africasciencenews.org/asns/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2832&Itemid=2

Here are some recent stories about GM crops from Farm Radio Weekly:
-Burkina Faso: Organic cotton under threat from GM cotton (FRW 152, April 2011)http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/04/11/burkina-faso-organic-cotton-under-threat-from-gm-cotton-by-inoussa-maiga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-burkina-faso/
-East Africa: Field trials of GM maize to begin (FRW 132, October 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/10/25/east-africa-field-trials-of-gm-maize-to-begin-reuters-peace-fm-online-new-agriculturist/
-Kenya: Groups protest import of GM maize (FRW 109, May 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/05/03/3-kenya-farmers%E2%80%99-groups-protest-import-of-gm-maize-business-daily-daily-nation-kenya-biodiversity-coalition-food-first/
-Kenya: Kibaki gives seal of approval on biosafety law for the production and use of genetically modified crops (FRW 56, February 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/02/23/2-kenya-kibaki-gives-seal-of-approval-on-biosafety-law-for-the-production-and-use-of-genetically-modified-crops-scidevnet-the-nation-africa-science-news-service/

You may wish to produce a program looking at the issues surrounding genetic modification of seeds and use of GM crops in your country. Be sure to present the information in clear and simple language. Try to get a wide range of opinions and use call-ins and text-ins to include farmers. If you are interested in researching a story, you may wish to consider the following questions:
-What laws has your country enacted to regulate biosafety and biosecurity?
-What information about GM seeds is available in your area? Who provides this information?
-How much do farmers know about GM seeds? Where do they get their information from?
-Would farmers consider planting genetically modified seeds? Would they prefer this to experimenting with conventionally-bred improved varieties?
-Which NGOs, industry groups, or other organizations in your area advocate for or against GMOs?

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