[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 24 June 2004 07:36
Subject: 27: Re: Traditional fermentation in developing countries // GE microorganisms
My name is Lydia Sasu a Home Science Extension/Farmer. I was born and raised in a village/farming community in Ghana and took up a carrier which is related to farming. I am assisting, organising and sharing information on agricultural programmes among farmers and farmer's organisations to build our capacity.
Referring to Olusola Oyewole's message 4 (17 June), I do agree with him.
I will talk about cassava processing, particularly, "cassava dough" locally called "Agbelima" in Ghana. Although I have not done any documented research on the cassava dough, we have many starters of its preparation locally. These farmers are small-scale farmers. Every family of cassava processor use different methods to enhance its texture, taste and acceptability at the market for higher price and to avoid post harvest losses. These methods have been used since the ancient past and have been transferred from generation to generation.
I always ask myself, could it be possible for us to discuss the best way of using these starters and share it among ourselves. We once organised an FAO programme on gari production, fortified with beans. As a farmers organisation, we invited a local woman to process the dough before its fortification, which a researcher was involved with the training. This woman used starters, which are not known to many of the processors. It therefore becomes a learning programme for all of us.
It will therefore be of advantage to look at the starters and its acceptability for food security.
Farmers Organisation Network in Ghana (FONG)
P.O.Box DK 18
e-mail- daa (at) africaonline.com.gh
[The "Case study of cassava development in Ghana" by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana (1997) in the "Review of cassava in Africa and country case studies: Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda" (http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/agpc/gcds/publications/gcdsvol.2.doc), from the proceedings of the Global Cassava Development Strategy Validation Forum, held at FAO Headquarters, Rome on 26-28 April 2000, gives more information about agbelima and other fermented cassava products in Ghana. It says, for example, "Cassava tubers are highly perishable and begin to deteriorate 2 to 3 days after harvesting. Unfortunately apart from delayed harveting there are no effective methods available for prolonged storage of the tubers. Therefore, post harvest handling of the root crop is extremely important. Approximately, 30% of cassava produced is consumed by the producers, whilst the rest is sold in the markets and a large proportion of this is processed into various indigenous products such as gari, agbelima and kokonte. Processing of cassava into various shelf-stable and semi-stable products is a widespread activity carried out by traditional cassava processors and small-scale commercial processing units. The traditional methods for processing cassava involve combinations of different unit processes including peeling, grating, dehydration, dewatering, sifting, fermentation, milling and roasting. The major products are agbelima, gari and kokonte. During processing, the cassava tuber is transformed from a highly perishable root crop into a convenient, easily marketable, shelf-stable product which meets consumer demand for a staple food. Processing may improve the palatability of the product and also reduce the level of cyanogenic glucosides in the tuber thereby detoxifying the product. Products fermented by some species of lactic acid bacteria such as agbelima and gari may attain anti-microbial properties...Moderator].
Sent: 24 June 2004 08:05
Subject: 28: Re: Genetically modified products
I am Benhura at the University of Zimbabwe and would like to comment on K.K. Vinod's message (nr. 26, June 23) about people consuming GM medicines but complaining about GM crops.
There is a subtle but significant difference in the two situations. When I use medicine from a genetically modified (GM) organism, I use a molecule that has been purified, with all the other components of the source organism having been removed. In this situation, it is easy to persuade me that, for example, the insulin produced by a GM microorganism is the same as the natural human one.
With GM crops, one uses the modified material itself. A GM crop that would be easy to argue for is sugar cane. It would be easy to persuade someone that the sugar from such a cane was practically the same as traditional sugar.
In many ways, champions of GM crops have done themselves a disservice by claiming that a lot of precautions have been taken to ensure that this and that does not happen. If the products and processes involved in their production are so safe, why the precautions?
It is prudent to accept that there will always be uncertainties. In the final analysis, one should be allowed to reject GM crops for no reason at all along the lines: Yes I see that you have a new GM crop that resists pests, that is more productive, that requires less water to reach maturity, that uses fertilizer more effectively, BUT I do not want it.
Dr M A Benhura
Department of Biochemistry,
University of Zimbabwe, Box MP 167,
benhura (at) medic.uz.ac.zw
[This discussion thread is now cut. The topic of this e-mail conference is not GM crops but the application of biotechnology to the processing of food (including beverages) produced from agriculture...Moderator].
Sent: 24 June 2004 08:11
Subject: 29: Re: Genetically modified products
This is P S Janaki Krishna from India again in response to message 26, June 23, of K K Vinod.
As the moderator rightly moderated, in this conference our focus is only on food processing and not on GM foods and associated issues. There is a lot of difference between these two. There are a number of advantages in developing food processing technologies. Processing food makes it more palatable, nutritious, varied and stable for storage. It also adds value to basic food stuffs and enables them to be sold to a larger market, increasing incomes and creating employment. Therefore, in food processing especially the biotechnological interventions like fermentation and enzyme technologies will go a long way in benefiting the developing countries whose kitchen is very rich in number of traditional food preparations.
In this conference our objective is to utilize this indigenous knowledge and improve these techniques with available biotechnological tools in order to take these technologies from kitchen to market and empower the various stakeholders in this food chain. It would be nice if more women are given priority in these programmes as there will be a natural touch in these skill based finer technologies.
P S Janaki Krishna,
Biotechnology Unit, Institute of Public Enterprise,
Hyderabad - 500 007,
Email: jankrisp (at) yahoo.com
Phone: 040 - 27097018/27098148