African countries’ representatives of scientists, civil society and legal practitioners have said that technologies, such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), synthetic biology and geo-engineering have cultural, sanitary, environmental, economic and social impacts in Africa.
The experts, who spoke at an event at the School of Ecology organized by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation and ETC Group in Abuja on ‘New and Emerging Technologies and their Implications for Africa’,also said they can bring about the disruption of livelihoods on a massive scale.
The representatives from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, South Africa, Eswatini, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda and Cameroon examined how the fourth industrial revolution affects conservation and biodiversity and implications of emerging technologies on environment and climate among others.
They said contrary to claims by industry players and government supporters, technology is not neutral, but rather political and sometimes with conceited objectives.
While noting that Africa has become a dumping ground for new technologies without prior assessments being conducted by governments, civil society groups, and local communities, they said Africa is rich in endogenous technologies that can be harnessed to address its socio-economic and ecological challenges.
“While mitigation and adaptation are important, what is most relevant is to address the root causes of climate change such as extractivism and over-consumption imposed by neoliberal capitalism and profiteering. Technologies like gene drives and geo-engineering are false solutions to complex problems and merely technofixes,” they said.
They, however, recommended that African governments must urgently diversify national economies away from dependence on fossil fuels and transit to renewable energy for all, owned and controlled by people.
“There should be a moratorium on the approval or deployment of any variant of genetically modified organism and urgent nation-wide consultations on these and other emerging technologies,” they said.
While calling on governments to shift their focus from industrial agriculture as a solution to the world food and climate crises, to agro-ecology, they said prior and informed consent of indigenous people and local communities must be a precondition for the introduction of any new technologies in their territories.