Opinion
European Union policies are detrimental to Africa
Publish Date: Mar 25, 2014
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By Clet Wandui Masiga

ADOPTION of most European Union (EU) policies by African governments is so detrimental to Africa with serious repercussions on Africa's socio-economic development. 

What is even worrying is Africans end up clinging on old ideas from Europe which even Europeans have abandoned. Although some Africans could have resisted adopting genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the current debate on GMOs is a good example. 

In diffusing and promoting adoption of new ideas, technologies, innovations and practices, there are several challenges which are influenced by the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. 

A technology/innovation adoption lifecycle curve model indicates that the first group of people to use a new product is are innovators, followed by early adopters, then early and late majority, and the last group to adopt a product are the laggards. 

These laggards exist in all countries but European resistance to GMOs in the last 25 years was not in a true sense of laggards. 

The rejection of GMOs by Europeans was because they had so much cheap food from around the world and they did not need the help of science to make more. 

Their farming was already too advanced making use of science and technology to work the farm and their citizens had the luxury of deciding what kinds of foods to eat. 

The war of the giants, Europeans and Americans started. Europe looked for supporters to influence the global decisions in GMOs and as usual Africa has the numbers. 

The Harvard Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalisation, Prof. Calestous Juma have told European politicians that it is at the behest of Europe that many countries in Africa have laws and rules that limit the testing and cultivation of GM plants even though there is now overwhelming evidence that the technology can boost food production with comparatively little or no adverse environmental impact. 

He has urged that Europe forcibly recruited African governments as allies in its trade war with North America, arguing that importing GM products could cause catastrophic damage to the environment. 

It involved putting diplomatic pressure on African countries saying that if you produce GM crops we will not import any agricultural products from your countries. Europe didn’t want to see GM material entering from Africa when it was saying ‘No’ to North American GM products, so Europe then pressured African countries not to grow GM crops which has a great detriment to African farming. 

Through a number of funding agencies, Europeans and their allied groups in the US recruited African activists and paid them huge allowances to reject GMOs. 

To date funding to ant-GMO activities are up to $2.5b annually. These NGOs have taken advantage of the laggards in Africa to promote European policies of pushing their prejudices on Africa, which still relies on foreign aid to feed its people. 

Europeans are using NGOs and diplomatic channels to push organic agriculture and a European-style regulatory system in Africa. 

They are promoting European policies that deny Africa well-intentioned and appropriate GM technology. 

These policies will continue to lead to food shortages and agricultural disasters in Africa. 

Right now Africa and Uganda in particular is at its full throttle to ban the use of GMOs in agriculture but Europeans themselves are turning around. 

European scientists lead by the UK has demanded European politicians to put in place policies to allow use of GMOs to increase agricultural production and make farming competitive. 

They have asked for right regulatory framework to encourage continued research and deployment of solutions to problems facing the UK agriculture. 

Europe's turnaround is in recognition that most people do not understand the challenges of food production and distribution. 

All they see are supermarkets with shelves loaded with foods from every part of the globe.

Writer is a conservation biologist, geneticist and farm entrepreneur 

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