On the introduction of genetically modified bananas in Uganda: social benefits, costs, and consumer preferences

E.M. Kikulwe

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Agriculture is the mainstay for the great majority of rural people in most African countries
and is essential for poverty reduction and food security. The role of agriculture towards
poverty reduction, however, has not been realized in Africa, despite advances in development
of technologies such as improved varieties suitable to local conditions and resistant to pests,
diseases and droughts stresses. Plant breeding using modern biotechnology and genetic
modification in particular has the potential of speeding-up crop improvement. However, the
central issue in agricultural biotechnology particularly in Africa is to achieve a functional
biosafety system to ensure that a country has the capacity to assess risks that may be associated
with modern biotechnology. Several countries have designed and implemented policies to address
the safety concerns of consumers and producers, including environment and food safety. One of
the requirements, as proposed in Article 2 of the Cartagena Protocol, is the inclusion of
socioeconomic considerations in the biosafety assessment process. Many developing countries,
including Uganda, have not determined whether and how to include socioeconomic
considerations. Specifically, at what stage of the regulatory process should they be included, the
involved scope, as well as the nature of the decision-making process within the biosafety
regulations. The aim of my thesis is to examine potential social welfare impacts of introducing a
GM banana in order to illustrate the relevance of socioeconomic analyses for supporting
biotechnology decision-making and in particular the importance of consumer perceptions but
also for contributing to the development and implementation of biosafety regulations. I
present a general approach using GM banana as an example, while assuming the GM banana
has passed standard food and biosafety safety assessments, i.e. can be considered to be safe. I
explore the benefit-cost trade-offs of its introduction and the farmers’ and consumers’
willingness to pay for the technology and the end product. In the study I present a framework
for considering concerns about genetically modified crops within a socioeconomic analysis of GM
crops, using real options and choice experiment approaches. The approaches relate the economic
benefits to consumers’ concerns. The results show that the introduction of GM bananas would be
desirable for the Ugandan society as a whole, mainly benefit poor rural households and would
merit policy support. Nevertheless, if such a GM banana is introduced its introduction may
result in strong opposition from the opponent segment of the population, which is composed
of mainly urban consumers with an on average higher education and income. Interestingly
and in contradiction to common wisdom only providing additional information about the
technology and its safety will not result in higher acceptance. Based on this case study
biosafety regulators would need to consider these socioeconomic effects before a decision to
introduce a GM banana is made. However, the decision to consider socioeconomic impacts
for other GM crops elsewhere depends on the crop and the country. The research
methodology in this thesis provides the basis for assessing other GM crops as well.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van Ierland, Ekko, Promotor
  • Wesseler, Justus, Co-promotor
  • Falck-Zepeda, J.B., Co-promotor, External person
Award date19 Mar 2010
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789085856108
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2010


  • bananas
  • musa
  • biosafety
  • genetic engineering
  • genetic transformation
  • social benefits
  • consumer attitudes
  • consumers
  • consumer preferences
  • costs
  • crops
  • uganda


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