Biotech in Africa? No thanks
African Centre for Biosafety
“Most African countries, like many other poor countries cannot advance GM crop research because their national policies or regulatory systems are not prepared to deal with safety requirement for approving general use.” Joel Cohen of the International Food Policy Research Institute based in Washington DC was reported to have said .
Africa is in no hurry to introduce genetically modified (GM) crops. South Africa remains isolated on the continent as the only country prepared to take biosafety decisions on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that have resulted in their commercialisation. Over the last five years, only eight other countries have conducted field trials of GM crops: Burkina Faso, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe .
An unexpected turn of events has seen pro-GM Kenya decide to terminate GM maize field trials launched as recently as May 2005 . Indeed, several countries have imposed bans or other forms of restriction on the import, distribution and commercial growing of GMOs  as part of a continent wide response to the risks posed to human health, the environment and traditional farming systems.
Bans and restrictions imposed by African countries on GM imports
* Algeria introduced a ban on the import, distribution, commercialisation and use of GM plant material in December 2000
* Angola introduced a ban on imports of unmilled GM food aid in April 2004
* Benin has taken measures to prevent imports of GM food aid, with a moratorium on import of GMOs until national legislation comes into force
* Lesotho has permitted the distribution of non-milled GM food aid, with a public warning that the grain should be consumed and not used for cultivation
* Malawi has had a ban on importing unmilled GM crops since 2002
* Mozambique’s government is prepared to accept GM food aid provided that maize is milled prior to distribution
* Namibian government rejected GM maize in 2002 and received wheat for food aid instead
* Nigeria’s government prepared to accept GM food aid provided maize is milled prior to distribution
* Sudan banned the import of GM food aid during May 2003, but issued a series of temporary waivers under pressure by the US
* Swaziland permitted the distribution of non-milled GM food aid, with a public warning that the grain should be consumed and not used for cultivation
* Zambia refused to accept GM grain donated as food aid in 2002
* Zimbabwe is prepared to accept GM food aid provided the maize is milled prior to distribution .