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ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

3 July 2002

ETHIOPIA CELEBRATES SURPLUS WITHOUT GM CROPS

1. Re: Ethiopia celebrates surplus without GM Crops
2. Ethiopia celebrates surplus without GM Crops

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1. Re: Ethiopia celebrates surplus without GM Crops

- slightly edited response on a discussion list from Devinder Sharma

Dear All,

It is heartening to learn that Ethiopia has a surplus and that too without GM crops. It is a slap in the face of all those who swear by the industry's interest and have been saying all these years that the only hope for Africa is to go in for GM crops. It is a resounding slap in the face of all those, specially the scientific community, which has very cleverly deviated from the path of 'good science' to mislead the people into accepting the false virtues of the risky and environmentally-unsafe GM technology.

The world needs to salute the people of Ethiopia. The world needs to wake up and realise that if Ethiopia, which has often been dubbed as a 'hopeless case', can do it and that too without GM technology, why can't the rest of the continent. It is time the political leadership in Africa stops being bullied and starts to represent its own people, their need and aspirations. The political and scientific leadership needs to stop being led by the industry. Africa can do it. After all, Ethiopia has shown us the way.

We are getting sick of those who eat, talk and sleep GMOs. They will go on arguing even if there is nothing left to argue. They will try to find fault when there is none. After all, they have a job to perform. How can they accept the success with food surpluses in Ethiopia when it goes against the interest of the industry they represent? It hurts them to know that the world can actually produce its food and nutritious need without GMOs.

Ethiopia has shown us the way. We need to stand up and salute the people of Ethiopia.

Devinder Sharma

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2. PRESS RELEASE.......PRESS RELEASE........PRESS RELEASE

From Dr Tewolde Berhane Gebre Egzhiabher:  envpa@telecom.net.et and
sustain@telecom.net.et

Live Aid Anniversary: 13 July 2002
Scenes from Surplus-Producing Ethiopia - without Genetically Engineered Crops

June 2002

Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, heading the Environmental Protection Agency of Ethiopia, will shortly be announcing the results of a study showing that Ethiopia is producing a surplus of food for the seventh year in succession.

Journalists and other visitors are welcome to witness for themselves:

* All this food is produced by small farmers using traditional farming practices.  (The only commercial farming is in cotton).

* There is no "improved seed" produced by commercial breeders - all seed is enhanced, selected and exchanged by small farmers.

* There is a minimal use of chemical fertilisers and no use of genetically engineered crops.

* The country has built up good stocks of food from the small farmers, to ensure it can supply its people with food if there is a drought or shortage of food.

* Visits can be organised to the site where the notorious photos of starving people were taken in 1985, which have remained as the image of Africa in a helpless, endless cycle of starvation.  Large areas of this dry region have been recuperated through regenerating the ecosystems (water harvesting, water source protection, prevention of erosion, control of grazing etc.)

* Other sites demonstrate the work of the award winning Ethiopian Gene Bank (Biodiversity Institute) which enhances productivity by increasing the diversity and density of farmer varieties growing together - again a simple ecological principle.

The Ethiopian example is particularly significant post the Food Summit (Rome, June 2002), and pre the Earth Summit (Johannesburg, August 2002) where:

* At the Food Summit the US government announced that it was investing $100 million in promoting biotechnology in developing countries, having bullied the governments at the Food and Agriculture Organisation to say that biotech would help reduce hunger.

* NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), and the pro-globalisation institutions (World Bank, World Trade Organisation, IMF etc.) all promote industrial agriculture, which means the use of hybrid and genetically engineered seed, chemicals, pesticides, monocultures, export oriented agriculture etc, as the way to increase productivity and feed the growing populations.  Biotech agriculture will be strongly promoted at the Earth Summit (as it was at the Food Summit).

* Also at the Earth Summit there will be up to 300 small farmers from different African countries insisting that they will continue to feed Africa's growing population; and that they will continue to defend their livelihood systems and food sovereignty.

* The drought and starvation that will be surrounding South Africa at the time of the Earth Summit will intensify the polarisation between the biotech claims that genetic engineering is the answer and the growing resistance of small farmers, consumers, civil society groups and increasingly governments and other institutions, to the dangers of the biotech industry's drive to control seed production and supply and hence the food chain - its hidden agenda.

Ethiopia shows that diverse, ecologically and culturally adapted food production systems, generated and controlled by millions of small farmer households, provide food security and protect the people and the country from foreign and commercial control of food.  Self-reliance in food at the household and country level, is the foundation on which democracies
can be built.

Invitation

* To visit these sites and interview Dr Tewolde before 13th July.

* To join a celebration of cultural biodiversity practices in Ethiopia, with rural children from around the country on 12,13 July.  The new "green" President has been invited to open it; and Dr Tewolde will be announcing the results of a report on how Ethiopia is now feeding itself.

Contact details:

Dr Tewolde:  envpa@telecom.net.et and sustain@telecom.net.et
  Tel: +251.1.624.759
  Mobile: +251.1.9211274
Liz Hosken: liz@gaianet.org
  Tel: +44.20.7435.5000
  Fax: +44.20.7431.0551

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