On the introduction of genetically modified bananas in Uganda: Social benefits, costs, and consumer preferences.

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Wageningen University


Agriculture is the mainstay for the great majority of rural people in most African countries and is essential for poverty reduction and food security. The role of agriculture towards poverty reduction, however, has not been realized in Africa, despite advances in development of technologies such as improved varieties suitable to local conditions and resistant to pests, diseases and droughts stresses. Plant breeding using modem biotechnology and genetic modification in particular has the potential of speeding-up crop improvement. However, the central issue in agricultural biotechnology particularly in Africa is to achieve a functional biosafety system to ensure that a country' has the capacity to assess risks that may be associated with modem biotechnology. Several countries have designed and implemented policies to address the safely concerns of consumers and producers, including environment and food safety. One of the requirements, as proposed in Article 2 of the Cartagena Protocol, is the inclusion of socioeconomic considerations in the biosafety assessment process. Many developing countries, including Uganda, have not determined whether and how to include socioeconomic considerations. Specifically, at what stage of the regulatory' process should they be included, the involved scope, as well as the nature of the decision-making process within the biosafety regulations. The aim of my thesis is to examine potential social welfare impacts of introducing a GM banana in order to illustrate the relevance of socioeconomic analyses for supporting biotechnology decision-making and in particular the importance of consumer perceptions but also for contributing to the development and implementation of biosafety regulations. I present a general approach using GM banana as an example, while assuming the GM banana has passed standard food and biosafety safely assessments, i.e. can be considered to be safe. I explore the benefit-cost trade-offs of its introduction and the farmers' and consumers’ willingness to pay for the technology and the end product. In the study I present a framework for considering concents about genetically modified crops within a socioeconomic analysis of GM crops, using real options and choice experiment approaches. The approaches relate the economic benefits to consumers' concents. The results show that the introduction of GM bananas would be desirable for the Ugandan society as a whole, mainly benefit poor rural households and would merit policy support. Nevertheless, if such a GM banana is introduced its introduction may result in strong opposition from the opponent segment of the population, which is composed of mainly urban consumers with an on average higher education and income. Interestingly and in contradiction to common wisdom only providing additional information about the technology and its safety will not result in higher acceptance. Based on this case study biosafety regulators would need to consider these socioeconomic effects before a decision to introduce a GM banana is made. However, the decision to consider socioeconomic impacts for other GM crops elsewhere depends on the crop and the country'. The research methodology in this thesis provides the basis for assessing other GM crops as well.


Phd Thesis,BOOK


Genetically modified bananas, Social benefits, Consumer preferences, Uganda, Plant breeding, Food security