05.07.2019

At this point in time, as the use of the NPBTs for African crops is still under development, it is difficult to predict how countries will respond, but previous experiences with transgenic crops provide some insights. So far, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), only transgenic cotton (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland), maize (Egypt, South Africa), soybean (South Africa) and cow pea (Nigeria) have received approval for cultivation in Africa. Kenya, e.g., has not approved the cultivation of Bt maize – maize that bears the Bt protein, which makes it resistant to infestation with nematodes such as the corn borer – for more than twenty years, the process having got stuck in bureaucracy, and Uganda has still not given its approval to the cultivation of transgenic banana after ten years. Both are important staple crops in the respective countries.

A threat to research on African crops?

Another indirect effect is that investments in NPBTs by the private sector might be lower than otherwise and applications by international plant breeding companies could be reduced for crops of importance for African agriculture.