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Apr 12, 2012

FAO Climate Change Expert Recommends That Zambia Accept Drought Tolerant (DT) GM Crops

On 11 April 2012 the Times of Zambia reported that U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) climate change expert Louis Bockel had recommended that Zambia accept gene-modified (GM) technology to increase food production in the face of climate change.  Bockel recommended GM crops that were drought-tolerant (DT).

Zambia has a history of rejecting GM food.  In 2002, in spite of food shortages, it refused to accept food aid that included GM crops.  Earlier in April 2012, Wynter Kabimba, Zambia's Secretary General told the media that Zambia would not accept GM crops because "they are dangerous to food security and the environment."  Professor Bockel countered to the Times of Zambia that "fears about GM [crops] and their effects on national food security must be demystified."

Professor Bockel has 25 years of agricultural experience in 40 different countries.  In his view, “Farmers will have to develop new crop varieties or hybrids as a way to encourage farmers to adapt. With climate change, you need to diversify into more resilient crops, plants that would be more water-efficient or drought-tolerant. During such times, you can not afford to ignore technology… you forget the myths.” In addition to adopting DT plants, Bockel recommends the development of "solid soil and water conservation strategies and irrigation systems."

As background to this discussion, in 2011 the World Bank approved a US$110 million for an agricultural research facility that will house a pilot program on "crop resilience to adverse climate change."  Of this amount, US$50 million is a grant and US$60 million is a concessional loan.

For more see:

"Accept GMOs, says FAO," Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Forum," 12 April 2012.

"Accept GMOs, Says FAO," The Times of Zambia, 11 April 2012. 

"FAO to Southern Africa: Accept GMOS," CropBiotech News, 20 April 2012.

"Zambia Refuses GM 'Poison,'" BBC News, 3 September 2002.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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