Balancing Agricultural Development Resources: Are GM and Organic Agriculture in Opposition in Africa?

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Organic agriculture has been promoted vigorously by many civil and donor organizations engaged in agricultural development in Africa. Certified organic products are grown in more than half of African countries, targeted mainly towards export markets. In contrast, adoption of GM agriculture has been met with skepticism in much of Africa, with only three African countries approving GM crops for commercial planting. In this article, we empirically tested several factors that may explain African attitudes toward GM and organic agriculture. To test these factors, we used a newly generated dataset on agriculture, trade, and development indicators for a subset of African countries. We found that African countries’ openness to GM agriculture is significantly predicted by variables for wealth, organic agricultural area, colonial legacy, past rejection of GM, and the percentage of the country under land protection. Interestingly, our analyses reveal that openness to GM agriculture is positively correlated with the abundance of organic agriculture. We also show that Europe has exerted significant influence on African acceptance of GM via colonial legacy and advisory positions.