First, the question is wrongly framed; it’s not true that there’s less “usage” of GMOs in developing countries. In a 2016 report, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) reported that “of the top five countries growing 91 percent of biotech crops, three are developing countries (Brazil, Argentina, and India).” The other two were the U.S. and Canada. Although the U.S. led biotech crop planting in 2016 at 72.9 million hectares, it was followed by two developing countries: Brazil (49.1 million hectares) and Argentina (23.8 million hectares). Canada (11.6 million hectares) was closely followed by India (10.8 million hectares), another developing country.
Second, in Africa, the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has clearly stated it support for GMO technology in a document called “Freedom to Innovate.” South Africa leads several African countries in GMO commercialization. Many African countries are at different stages on the pathway to commercialization. Delays in putting together regulatory frameworks as well as anti-technology activism has undermined the speed with which the continent has adopted the technology. Although the majority of today’s commercialized biotech crops are developed by large private companies, there is an enormous amount of plant biotech research being done by public sector institutions in Africa; a case in point is Bt cowpea and Vitamin A-enriched sorghum. Here’s a bird’s eye-view of other public sector projects.