While some African nations have stated clearly their opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops, others have embraced the technology and have invested in research and development of GM crops suited to their conditions.
In this article, Joseph Krauss reports on GM research in Egypt. Although the country's Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute and Agricultural Research Centre have both been developing such crops since 1990, none has yet been commercialised.
But since Europe relaxed its import ban on GM products — opening the door to 18 products and reviewing 24 more — Egyptian proponents of the technology have called for commercial production of GM crops to get underway.
Egypt is likely to start with a strain of GM cotton able to resist attack by insects, says Krauss, because although consumers might be worried about eating GM products, they have little concern about wearing them.
However, farmers might be deterred from adopting GM crops because seeds are more expensive.
The Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute hopes Egyptian farmers will realise that a larger harvest and savings from not using chemical pesticides would make the investment worthwhile. The institute also hopes that Egyptian scientists will soon develop genes they can patent, reducing the reliance on foreign companies.