Friday, October 15, 2010

Genetically Modified Maize Trials to Begin in Uganda

Once regulators approve a new program to grow genetically modified maize, field trials will begin in Kenya and Uganda this year. Twelve varieties of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) have been developed through a number of scientific organizations, including scientists from Uganda and Kenya, Monsanto, and a research body called the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. The program was developed to improve production of maize to the world's poorest continent. Maize is a staple crop but has been badly affected by drought; thus, the maize has been modified to be drought-resistant. The scientists aim to increase maize yields by 24 to 35 percent. Though the idea of genetically modified crops sounds wonderful by bringing food to the masses, there has been much criticism as well. Many questions the safety of the genetically modified foods and fear they may harm wildlife or even humans. However, if the trials yield safe, cheap food for the starving without causing detriment to the environment, this could be a miracle crop.

-Abbey Smith

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