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Bioscience Issues


Project Title:  Pathways to Productivity? Assessment of the GMO Debate in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda


Organization:  Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C.


Project Description:  CSIS is conducting a project evaluating the role that GM crops might have on food security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda with a focus on the regulatory structures, the status of science and research, and public engagement and opinion.  The report will discuss GM food crop adoption in the three target countries, framed in the context of the potential impacts on smallholder farmers.


Our research focuses on five primary areas:
1)     GMO debate:  Enhancing the debate and information flow will increase each country’s capacity to make informed decisions about GMOs.  How are the various stakeholders engaged in the GMO debate?

2)     Science and research capacity:  What is the current status of each country’s research establishment and scientific capacity?  What is the status of GM crop cultivation? What role is the private sector playing in developing and/or commercializing GM technology?

3)     Regulatory systems:  What are the states of the regulatory systems in the focus countries? How are the biosafety policies keeping pace with scientific developments?

4)     Smallholder farmers:  Agricultural infrastructure and technology in Africa is uneven and often underdeveloped, rarely impacting those who need it most – the smallholder farmer. For any type of technology to be adopted, there is significant work to be done on dissemination and extension. What are some areas that can serve the purpose of providing improved infrastructure for all types of agricultural technology, including GM crops?

5)     Regional trends:  What work is being done at the regional level to share information and harmonize approaches to GM regulation and trade? How can regional institutions (i.e. COMESA and EAC) supplement these efforts?

Project Activities:  
The project runs from March 2012 – August 2013.

Field Studies:  CSIS experts have completed field studies in each of the three focus countries:  Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, during which they met with African government officials, scientists, media, smallholder farmers, and the NGO community.

Online Forum:  To complement the field studies, CSIS has created a blog to encourage debate, integrate new research, share preferred practices, and gather feedback from experts to highlight the GM debate in several countries, including the three target countries. This forum also addresses key issues related to agricultural technology development and dissemination more broadly.

Meetings and Conference:  CSIS hosted an initial scoping session with a small group of experts in Washington to engage them on the project and solicit initial feedback.  We will host a second high-level meeting at the end of May 2013 to review draft findings and recommendations. Subsequently, CSIS will host a large public event to launch the final report.

Reports:  The final product of the project is a report that reflects the outcomes of the research.   We will identify key trends and outline the debates on GM crops in each of the three countries.  The report will inform African policymakers’ views of how to support and enhance capacities for technology regulation, use, and adoption.  It will also contain recommendations to the U.S. government on how to integrate the realities on the ground into their broader agricultural development efforts.

CSIS will also publish background issue papers on the status of the regulatory structures in each of the focus countries, and the potential barriers that GM crops pose to trade, both regionally and internationally.