Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
on the Development of National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs) that coached African
governments in parallel fashion to adopt highly precautionary European-style GMO
A second channel of external influence has been advocacy campaigns against GMOs
from international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), the most active of which
are headquartered in Europe. Greenpeace International and Friends of the Earth
International, both based in Amsterdam, have campaigned heavily in Africa against
agricultural GMOs, telling stories of new medical and environmental risks, but never
sharing with their African audience the fact of Europe's own scientific consensus regard-
ing the absence of such risks so far. A  third channel of external influence has been
commercial agricultural trade. Africa's farm exports to Europe are six times as large as
exports to the Untied States, so exporters must adjust to European consumer tastes and
European regulatory requirements. In 2002, Zambia rejected GMO maize as food aid
in part because an export company (Agriflora Ltd.) and the export-oriented national
farmers union (ZNFU) were anxious that exports of organic baby corn to Europe not be
compromised. The risks of export rejections from African countries that plant GMOs
are actually quite small, as evidenced by the continued growth of food sales to Europe
from the Republic of South Africa, which does plant GMOs, yet anxieties surround-
ing export loss continues to play a political role. A final channel of external influence is
cultural. Most policymaking elites in Africa have closer cultural ties—based on history,
language, schooling, media, and travel—to Europe than to the United States, so they are
naturally inclined to view European practices as the best practices (Paarlberg 2008).
The Political Challenge for the
Pragmatic Center
There is also a pragmatic center with its own favored remedy for Africa's agricultural
challenges. Pragmatists know that Africa's agricultural sector will never become a source
of productivity and income growth without larger investments in basic rural public
goods: roads, power, schools, clinics, and agricultural research and technology exten-
sion. The political problem for the pragmatic center is how to stir Africa's governments
to improve their performance in making these investments. The actions most needed
for this task include revived external assistance for agricultural investments, external
and peer pressure on governments in Africa to fulfill their 2003 Maputo pledge, and
foundation-led projects designed to create partnerships between the African public sec-
tor and private international companies with access to technology and market outlets.
For most of the past three decades, the first pillar of this strategy—external assistance
for agricultural investments—was largely missing in Africa, as noted above. Politically,
at least three forces were pushing external donors away from the needed task of pro-
viding assistance to agricultural modernization in Africa. The first was a rejection of
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