Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard—and “one of the most innovative thinkers on how to harness new technologies for economic development”—believes genetically modified (GM) crops are a necessary agricultural solution to help address the challenges of climate change and population growth, a Council on Foreign Relations blog states.
“It doesn’t make sense to reduce the size of the toolbox when the challenges are expanding,” Dr. Juma said in an interview with Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He predicts in 2012 “there will be more GM crops grown in developing countries than in developed countries.”
Born and raised in Kenya and now head of the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project, Dr. Juma points out that 90 percent of GM crops are grown by “small resource-poor farmers” who benefit from their high productivity and environmental sustainability. For example herbicide tolerant plants allow farmers to use “no-till agriculture” so that carbon dioxide stays trapped in the soil instead of contributing to climate change. He also notes that herbicide-tolerant crops that boost productivity are particularly helpful for female farmers in Africa because it makes back-breaking weeding less necessary.
Dr. Juma is the author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, which discusses the importance of using science and technology to modernize of agriculture in Africa and to create opportunities for economic prosperity. Read more.