Developing GM Cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Webmaster, 2 June 2010
The author of this article in AgBioforum argues that there need to be coordinated efforts among the international research community and governments in developing countries to understand the cost of delaying the building capacity for biosafety regulation and development of GM cassava.
The prospect for the development of genetically modified (GM) orphan crops is reviewed from various perspectives. The article specifically assesses the potential constraints for developing GM cassava based on typical patterns of past genetic modification technology application on crops, the low level of basic research that has been done on cassava, African stakeholders� perceptions on GM crops in general, and regulation issues for cassava. The article also assesses potential factors that might mitigate such constraints, such as the potential benefits of genetic modification technology in overcoming particular problems for cassava over conventional non-genetic modification technologies, the level of interest among African countries on such benefits, and the preferential treatment given to crops like cassava (such as humanitarian use licenses). The article concludes with a discussion of prospects for GM cassava and some knowledge gaps that need to be filled to speed up the commercialization of GM cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa.