On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, Tanzania’s government took the crucial leap of joining the global community of nations that rule out GMOs and choose a just, healthy and sustainable path to food security.
Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Prof. Adolf Faustine Mkenda, issued a directive to halt all GMO research trials in the country, expressing the government’s concern about creating seed dependence on foreign-based corporations. He said, “Tanzania does not allow GMOs, because we have enough better seeds. We will protect our natural seeds, and the government will work together with our research centres to ensure we get better seeds.”
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), on behalf of millions of African smallholder farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, faith-based institutions, CSOs and consumers, welcomed the news with great African pride, solidarity and enthusiasm. We express our most profound appreciation to the government for carrying the torch and ushering in a new era of conserving genetic resources and farmers’ variety seeds in Africa.
Africa is the cradle of humanity; the continent that has fed its people the longest. Africa’s body of knowledge of seed, food and agriculture is rich and diverse. Smallholder farmers are the bearers and protectors of time-tested expertise and practice of farmer-managed seed systems. Tanzania’s decision recognizes the resilience of African smallholder farmers, particularly woman farmers, who are the pillars of seed conservation in Africa.
Despite the false promises, GMOs in Africa have been an expensive and disastrous failure. Burkina Faso abandoned genetically modified Bt cotton after markets rejected the low-quality fibre. Up to two million smallholder farmers lost their livelihoods and were left poorer, more vulnerable and disempowered. Despite promises that GMOs would feed the growing population, after 20 years of GM maize consumption in South Africa 46% of households are still hungry, one in five children is stunted, and 50% of women are now overweight or obese.
Meanwhile, volumes of research at the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture call for an urgent rethink of our food systems and a shift towards agroecology to ensure food and nutrition security and build resilient seed systems. Agroecology is the future to feed Africa with healthy and nutritious food, nourish our soils and respond to the climate emergency.
AFSA and the undersigned members and allies affirm our support and solidarity with Tanzania and urge other African countries to support and invest in farmer seed systems to ensure food sovereignty and resist the corporatization of African food systems.
- African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
- African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)
- Association Ouest Africaine pour le Développement de la Pêche Artisanale (ADEPA)
- Biodiversity and Biosafety Coalition of Kenya (BIBA)
- Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africaine (COPAGEN)
- Comité Ouest Africain de Semences Paysannes (COASP)
- Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ)
- Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS Africa)
- Eastern and Southern Africa Pastoralist Network (ESAPN)
- Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
- Fahamu Africa
- Faith & Justice Network of the Mano River Basin (FJN)
- Farm-Saved Seeds Network (FASSNET)
- Fédération Agroécologique du Bénin (FAEB)
- Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA)
- Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA)
- Groundswell West Africa (GWA)
- Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
- Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC)
- Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social (INADES-Formation)
- Institut Panafricain pour la Citoyenneté, les Consommateurs et le Développement (CICODEV Africa)
- Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE International)
- John Wilson
- La Via Campesina Africa (LVC Africa)
- Nous Sommes La Solution (NSS)
- Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association
- Plate-forme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)
- Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme (ReSCOPE)
- Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA)
- Réseau Africain pour le Droit à l’Alimentation (RAPDA –Togo)
- Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA)
- South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
- Tanzanian Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
- Thousand Currents
- Union Africaine des Consommateurs (UAC)
- World Neighbors
- Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)