Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

GMOs in Africa

Regional workshop for exchange of experience and information and networking

Organisers:  Mamadou Goita (english), IRPAD, Forum Nyeleni, Mali et  Bernadette Ouattara (french) COPAGEN/BURKINA, Burkina Faso

Mamadou Goita (IRPAD/Copagen regional Coordination):  “The Corporations’ Strategies to introduce GMOs in Africa and resistance from Civil Society Organizations”
Bernadette Ouattara (Copagen/Burkina):  " The caravan of information / Sensitizing of the populations on the stakes of the introduction of GMOs into Food and Agriculture in Burkina Faso and West Africa:  an example of the resistance of West African Civil Society"
Trizhah Wairimu Ng'ang'a, PELUM Kenya and  African Biodiversity Network: Presentation of an example of resistance in African English speaking countries
Meriem Louanchi,  AREA-ED Association de Réflexion, d'Échanges et d'Actions pour l'Environnement et le Développement, Algeria the example from Algeria

Moderators : Ibrahim Ouédraogo and Assétou Samaké
Note taker: Aliou Maiga
The workshop was in French and in English. A whispering translation was done by participants.

During the last ten years, Africa has undergone an increasingly strong pressure from the Northern bilateral co-operations, the international institutions (World Bank, IMF, WTO), and Corporations with mutual supports to introduce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the continent’s Agriculture via modern biotechnology.  

In West Africa, in particular, many initiatives are in progress on the purpose to promote GMOs or to create legal frameworks contributing to spread out genetically engineered crops.  These initiatives are, inter alia:  The CORAF/WECARD Biotechnology and Biosafety Program, the CILSS’ initiative on Biosafety, the Action Plan for the Promotion of Biotechnology and Biosafety in ECOWAS States, the Regional West African Biosafety project (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Togo) with WAEMU (West Africa Economic and Monetary Union).  All these initiatives are, almost funded by the same partners: USAID, corporations of seeds and fertilizers, CROPLIFE, with support of the World Bank and some other bilateral co-operations.  

As an example, Burkina Faso which ratified Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Cartagena protocol and adopted with other countries of African Union, the African model laws on biosafety and the communities’ rights, adopted by the African heads of State in July 2001 at Lusaka, did not resist to these aggressions and big pushes.  Much more, it was the first country in West Africa to get involved in this adventure of genetic engineering by introducing transgenic cotton (GM cotton named also Bt cotton) growing for experimentation since 2003.  During the Farmers’ National Day celebration, the Minister of agriculture that 15,000 ha of Bt cotton will be cultivated this year 2008.

Many other countries in Africa are under thread. In East, Southern and Central Africa, there are big pushes to introduce GMOs in African agriculture.

The workshop aimed to:

  • Present Corporations’ strategies to introduce GMOs’ in Africa
  • Make visible the African Civil Society’s resistance: case studies will be presented: “No to GMOs in agricukture and food caravan in Burkina Faso” organized from the 16th to the 24th of February, 2008 by the COPAGEN, ABN’s campaign in East Africa, other cases from North Africa, Southern Africa and others will be presented.  
  • Exchange and share alternatives to GMOs to impact on current pushes from corporations.
  • Create a Pan African Alliance for resistance to corporations’ aggressions against African agriculture and food systems.

Moderation and facilitation strategy: 
This workshop was an opportunity to discuss in a participative way on the GMOs issue in Africa.  Therefore: 

  • The first part was devoted to the basic presentations. Its main purpose was to give a broader view of the issue, to highlight practical experiments and to map out some alternatives being implemented at different levels and by different stakeholders. 
  • The second part allowed opening a public discussion/debate to enrich the basic communications but more especially to build a strong strategic alliance between organizations individuals committed to fight against GMOs in Africa. 
  • A summary was given at the end of the session. It allowed drawing a concerted action plan to build up the pan African alliance and open debates with the international alliance.

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Last Contributions

Background Papers and further reading

Presentation of the COPAGEN (Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain)
With the list of contacts per country
 Read the presentation

Disclaimer addressed to the attention of GEF CEO and GEF council members, August, 31st, 2007
by the Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)
Subject: Manipulation of information to serve hidden agendas: Regional (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Togo) : West African Regional Biosafety Project.
 Read the disclaimer

GMOs in AfricaOGMs en AfriqueGVOs in AfrikaTransgénicos en África

Local Organising Committee