Socio-economic impact of GMOs on African consumers

Mugwagwa, Julius T. and Rutivi, Cathy (2009). Socio-economic impact of GMOs on African consumers. In: Buntzel, Rudolf ed. Genetic Engineering and Food Sovereignty: Reader on Studies and Experiences. Bonn, Germany: Church Development Service (EED), pp. 55–66.



The debate surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains an important one for consumers and consumer organisations the world over, and is characterized by strong views for, and against the technology. The debate is of particular interest to Africa, where the countries are yet to embrace the new technology and where food security challenges tend to amplify the dilemma faced by decision-makers. Consumers, represented through the work of consumer organizations, are a very active and vocal constituency in this debate, as it unfolds in Africa.The objective of this paper is to inform the reader on how the consumer movement has contributed to the GMO debate in Africa in the past few years and to highlight the potential socio-economic impacts on African consumers. Firstly, the paper summarises the consumer movement and its work with the Joint Advocacy Project on GMOs; and secondly looks at the potential social, ethical and cultural impacts. Economic and environmental impacts are also discussed. The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment tool is highlighted as one of several tools to guide bio-safety decision-making policy. A few recommendations and policy implications are given at the end of the paper.

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