Ideas & Debate

Take biotechnology to the grassroots

Plant biotechnology research should involve
Plant biotechnology research should involve small-scale farmers who guard the genetic resources and indigenous knowledge. 

Africa has long debated the development and use of biotechnologies such as genetically modified organisms.

Proponents point to their potential for solving economic, social and environmental challenges, highlighting their nutritional benefits, for example, or the environmental benefits achieved through reduced pesticide use.

Critics focus on the low public funding available, problems with intellectual property rights, limited human capacity, poor infrastructure and biosafety issues.

But what has been largely absent from the debate is a consideration of how African socio-cultural realities affect biotechnology development.