More than half a billion dollars has been invested in creating genetically modified staple crops to alleviate poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa. These second-generation crops (GMO 2.0) are nearly ready for distribution – but their success depends on the extent to which women (55 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the region) gain decision-making power. Yet, there is no research that addresses how GMO 2.0 technologies will affect gender relations.
This project, led by Dr. Matthew Schnurr of Dalhousie University, will initiate a new international, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research network to evaluate the gender impacts of GMO 2.0 crops in four African countries where commercialization is imminent. Canadian and African researchers will work with farmer-based Civil Society Organizations to achieve the project’s objectives: to design and execute protocols to examine the impact of GMO 2.0 crops on gender relations; to assess whether the newly released varieties can contribute to women’s empowerment; and to enhance farmers’ access to information.
As a result of this project, policy makers will gain insight into how to create agricultural policies and experimental programs that reflect the priorities and perspectives of women farmers, while farmers will gain new knowledge about using these genetically modified crops. The ultimate goal is to create the first continental-level network capable of evaluating how GMO 2.0 can help improve yields and livelihoods for African farmers.