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October 13th, 2017 / Cornell Alliance for Science, US

Joan Conrow and Mark Lynas write:
Genetically engineered crops that promise to benefit both farmers and consumers are poised to enter Uganda’s marketplace now that its Parliament has adopted a law to regulate agricultural biotechnology.

Ugandan plant scientists are already in the later stages of conducting field trials for banana varieties that are resistant to diseases and can deliver improved content of the vital micronutrient Vitamin A.

Ugandans consider cooked green banana — called matoke — a staple crop, consuming about a kilogram (2.2 pounds) a day on average, with banana comprising 30 to 60 percent of daily calorific intake throughout the whole East African region.

Though the market for their produce is strong, Uganda’s banana farmers increasingly are suffering losses due to devastating plant diseases such as banana bacterial wilt (BBW), which can topple a healthy plantation literally overnight.

Meanwhile, many of Uganda’s poorest children are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies that impair their health, most notably a shortage of vitamin A that can result in blindness. Read more