Saturday, 22 August 2009

Farmers more keen on yield potential of GM crops than risks

A study conducted by IITA and the Africa College-University of Leeds in Tanzania reveals that local farmers are more interested on the productivity potential of genetically-modified (GM) crops than they are worried about the possible risks associated with their use.

The study, completed in late June, was carried out in consultation with the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute and the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology. It covered three districts in Tanzania.The research, which assessed the understanding and attitudes of local farmers toward GM crops using disease-resistant cassava as example, also revealed that the level of awareness and basic understanding of GM crops by small-scale farmers is very low. Similarly, it was found that related knowledge level of local agricultural extension officers and district staff – primary sources of information of the farmers – was also inadequate.

Dr Caroline Herron, IITA Virologist involved in the study, said that “it is important for the scientific community to raise the awareness level of farmers by providing accurate and objective information so they can make informed and autonomous decisions on the potential of GM crops in their agricultural practice.The tendency of farmers to focus on short term gains in productivity should not prevent the potential middle and long term risks being fully explained to them to allow them to make clear judgment”
IITA Press Release 30/07