Bioethics 29 (9):604-612 (2015)

Abstract
A growing number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa are considering legalizing the growth of genetically modified organisms. Furthermore, several projects are underway to develop transgenic crops tailored to the region. Given the contentious nature of GMOs and prevalent anti-GMO sentiments in Africa, a robust ethical analysis examining the concerns arising from the development, adoption, and regulation of GMOs in sub-Saharan Africa is warranted. To date, ethical analyses of GMOs in the global context have drawn predominantly on Western philosophy, dealing with Africa primarily on a material level. Yet, a growing number of scholars are articulating and engaging with ethical theories that draw upon sub-Saharan African value systems. One such theory, Ubuntu, is a well-studied sub-Saharan African communitarian morality. I propose that a robust ethical analysis of Africa's agricultural future necessitates engaging with African moral theory. I articulate how Ubuntu may lead to a novel and constructive understanding of the ethical considerations for introducing GMOs into sub-Saharan Africa. However, rather than reaching a definitive prescription, which would require significant engagement with local communities, I consider some of Ubuntu's broader implications for conceptualizing risk and engaging with local communities when evaluating GMOs. I conclude by reflecting on the implications of using local moral theory in bioethics by considering how one might negotiate between universalism and particularism in the global context. Rather than advocating for a form of ethical relativism, I suggest that local moral theories shed light on salient ethical considerations that are otherwise overlooked
Keywords communitarianism  transgenic crop  genetically modified organism  sub‐Saharan Africa  food ethics  Ubuntu  Bioethics
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DOI 10.1111/bioe.12191
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