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Table 3 Controversies over potential adoption of GM cassava in Africa

From: Developing GM super cassava for improved health and food security: future challenges in Africa

Controversial statements about GM cassava References
1. ‘A team led by Richard Sayre, a professor of plant cellular and molecular biology at Ohio State University, had inserted into the cassava's DNA a bacterial gene that affects starch production. The modified plants' roots were said to be more numerous and up to 2.6 times larger than in normal plants.’ [62]
2. Nagib Nassar, the Brazilian Professor of genetics at the University of Brasilia, responded to ‘GM cassava has 'super size' roots’ that ‘My colleagues and I have produced cassava with roots that are ten times the normal size without resorting to genetic modification.’ [63]
3. According to DDPSC ‘virus-resistance technology will initially be deployed in the East African region's most popular cassava cultivar (Ebwanatareka) for adoption by the 22,000 Kenyan farming families and the project will help 200,000 Kenyan cassava farmers and their families and increase cassava harvests by 50% on a sustainable basis.’ [64]
4. Less than 9 months later a statement by the DDPSC dated May 26, 2006, says that although resistance to cassava mosaic disease (CMD) had been established through genetic engineering seven years ago, ‘the resistance was subsequently lost, and changes to the plant's DNA had taken place.’  
5. ‘Many groups oppose the introduction of these seemingly miraculous types of GM cassava. When asked about the health consequences of consuming GM foods, Gareth Jones of Biosafety Africa explained simply, ‘Nobody really knows! This is the problem… No long term studies have been done.’ [66]
6. ‘The deliberate release of GM into the environment… can lead to irreversible damage to ecosystems,’ explained Glen Tyler of Greenpeace International’s agricultural campaign. ‘Once one of these crops is out of the bag, it’s hard to put it back in the bag, so to speak.’ [66]
7. ‘A GM crop research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has developed a highly nutritious strain of cassava sufficient to provide most of a day’s nutrients in a single meal’. [67]
8. ‘The world does not need GM cassava and research laboratories should not turn Africans into guinea pigs on the pretext of helping to fight malnutrition. GMOs are not the solution to the hunger and nutrition question in Africa.’ [68]
9. ‘Opponents stood in the way of field trials in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya by spreading unfounded scare stories about ‘killer cassava’.’ [69]
10. According to Dr Claude Fauquet of DDPSC ‘acquisition of the cassava genome sequence will provide a platform to explore the vast biodiversity within cassava wild species. Ultimately, these activities will position cassava as a valuable source of renewable bio-energy.’ [70]
11. Critics say, ‘the objectives of the project go beyond food security, and touch on the search by the United States of a cheap source of starch other than maize to manufacture ethanol to help wean it from oil.’ [70]