Ian Scoones, co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre and Dominic Glover of the Technology and Agrarian Development Group at Wageningen University have written an article in this week’s Nature magazine (August 13) which explores the fallout of a new book on agricultural biotechnology in Africa.

Scoones and Glover take a look at the Robert Paarlberg’s book Starved for Science: how biotechnology is being kept out of Africa

“A dogmatic and unscientific stance on GM crops – whether pro or anti – helps no one, and least of all African farmers. Paarlberg‟s book has stirred up the debate again, but in ways that do not move it forward,” write Scoones and Glover.

“A less combative, more evidence-based and balanced approach is needed, one that should foster a diversity of development pathways for agriculture16. All of these should be underpinned by high-quality scientific research and attuned to particular circumstances.

“As the World Bank‟s World Development Report on Agriculture and the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) both indicate, biotechnology options of many kinds will surely be part of the mix, but they will not be the only solution; and, for Africa, not necessarily the major one either,” they add.

An full-lenth version of the Nature article is avilable on the Biotechnology Research Archive pages of the STEPS website – GM Crops in Africa: polarising the debate.