ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

31 October 2002

US WILL NOT HELP ZAMBIA WHILE PREDICTING INCREASED RISK OF STARVATION

According to UN figures, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of non-GM grain are available, in America and elsewhere  -- more than enough to feed the hungry in Zambia.  But in the light of Zambia's confirmation of its decision not to accept GM food aid, the US has reiterated its refusal to help Zambia even though it predicts a greater risk of starvation:

"Boucher said the U.S. was ready to provide food assistance through the U.N. World Food Program to Zambia should the government reverse its position and will stay in touch with authorities in Lusaka."

"We believe this decision [to reject GM food aid] is likely to place the citizens of Zambia at a greater risk of starvation" - U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher

"This looks like morbid folly, like a dangerous game played with the lives of starving people for political gain. This is precisely true.  The US government has been playing this game for well over a decade; the famine in Southern Africa provides merely the latest installment." Dr Raj Patel - see: http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm

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US Disagrees With Zambia Over Genetically-Modified Corn

Dow Jones Newswires 30-10-02

WASHINGTON (AP)--The U.S. said it disagrees with Zambia's decision to reject genetically modified corn from the U.S. that was offered as U.N. aid, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday.

"We believe this decision is likely to place the citizens of Zambia at a greater risk of starvation," he said.

Boucher said the U.S. believes Zambia has disregarded scientific evidence and advice from international relief organizations, other governments and the European Commission that "accepting this safe maize to feed its hungry people would help avert human catastrophe."

Zambian Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana said Zambian scientists, after visiting the U.S., Europe and South Africa, had concluded that the grain and other such modified foods aren't safe.

Boucher said the U.S. was ready to provide food assistance through the U.N. World Food Program to Zambia should the government reverse its position and will stay in touch with authorities in Lusaka.

Asked if Zambia would accept the maize if the U.S. milled it so it wouldn't be planted, as has been done for other countries in southern Africa, Boucher said Zambia still wouldn't accept it.

He said the U.S. had 12,000 metric tons of food in Zambia and was looking to provide 60,000. The U.N. estimates Zambia needs 120,000 tons through March 2003 and the region as a whole 435,000 metric tons.

Boucher said other countries in southern Africa that are accepting genetically modified food that has been milled include Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Dow Jones Newswires 30-10-02

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"..there is no shortage of non-GMO foods which could be offered to Zambia by public and private donors. To a large extent, this  'crisis' has been manufactured (might I say, 'engineered') by those looking for a new source of traction in the evolving global debate over agricultural biotechnology. To use the needs of Zambians to score 'political points' on behalf of biotechnology strikes many as unethical and indeed shameless. " Dr Chuck Benbrook, a leading US agronomist and former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture for the US National Academy of Sciences http://ngin.tripod.com/270902a.htm

"The US says it cannot provide guaranteed GM-free maize [to governments requesting it in Southern Africa] because there is no requirement in place to separate GM and non-GM grains in the US. Strange that a 2001 American Corn Growers Association survey  showed that more than 50% of US elevators can and do segregate GM and non-GM grains.  The US position is one of choice, not necessity." "BETTER DEAD THAN GM FED?" by GRAIN (ŚSeedling‚, October 2002) http://ngin.tripod.com/betterdead.htm

"The UN confirms there is enough non-GM food in southern Africa and on world markets... The US should [untie its aid] and stop putting a GM gun to the head of hungry Zambians."  Alex Wijeratna, ActionAid, Food aid, The Guardian, October 21 2002
http://ngin.tripod.com/231002c.htm

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