Seeds of promise: Developing a sustainable agricultural biotechnology industry in sub–Saharan Africa
In a continent ravaged by poverty, disease and malnutrition, agricultural practices have changed little over millennia. Of all the new technologies recently arisen, molecular biotechnology is one of the few that could signi ficantly improve the livelihoods of the large numbers of people in sub–Saharan Africa. Its impact could exceed that in the developed world, where a multi–billion dollar a year agricultural biotechnology industry has emerged, secured on the back of a highly skilled research and educational sector, extensive biosafety measures, and a strong corporate sector. For much of sub–Saharan Africa, the absence of these foundations constitutes a substantial hurdle to the development of a sustainable biotechnology industry. A critical element is the development of an indigenous and innovative agricultural biotechnology community — one that is responsive to African crops, farming practices and economic imperatives, yet sensitive to local concerns and biosafety issues surrounding use of the controversial GM technology.
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