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Force-feeding the hungry:
a primer on the food aid crisis

"It's wicked, when there is such an excess of non-GM food aid available, for GM to be forced on countries for reasons of GM politics... if there is an area where anger needs to be harnessed it is here."
UK Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, speaking at a briefing of British parliamentarians, November 27, 2002
http://ngin.tripod.com/271102d.htm

"[UK Prime Minister] Blair's chief scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology into Africa as a 'massive human experiment'. In a scathing attack on President Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries, where people are already facing starvation in the coming months." The Observer, UK, Sep 1, 2002

"..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 countries of Southern Africa are in the midst of a devastating crisis in which as many as 14 million people in the region are at risk of starvation.

The U.S. has the ability to supply non-GM food but has declined to do so even though several African governments, including Zambia, have made repeated requests. USAID has dismissed their concerns as "ideological" while an unnamed US state department official recently said, "beggars can't be choosers."

But eating GM or starving is a false dilemma. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of non-GM grain are available, both in America and elsewhere, and it should be sent to where it's needed most. Instead the Bush Administration is exploiting famine in Africa in an effort to support America's biotech industry.

It's just the latest twist in a long and cynical marketing campaign and it's one to which not only African countries are objecting. In early 2003 India officially refused GM food aid from the US citing environmental, human and animal health considerations.
http://ngin.tripod.com/070103d.htm
 

Eat GM or starve, America tells Africa 
a Reuters headline, July 26, 2002

On the 29th October 2002 the Government of Zambia announced that it had decided not to reverse its earlier  rejection of GM food aid "in view of the current scientific uncertainty surrounding the issue".

Agence France Presse HEADLINE: US denounces Zambia's refusal to accept genetically modified food aid DATELINE: WASHINGTON, October 30th, 2002

The US at once made it clear that it would only provide aid to Zambia if its decision on GM food aid was reversed. More astonishingly, it also became clear that UN agencies dominated by the US had made no move to remedy the situation since the Zambian Government first formally announced its rejection of GM food aid back in June. 

The reason for the dangerous delay? According to a report in Afrol News:

"Only now, further supplies of food aid had been ordered, "expected to arrive in Zambia in December." UN agencies had been expecting a change in government mind until the last moment. The decision not to order non-GM food aid until now has been observed as direct pressure against the Zambian government." ("Continued pressure against Zambia on GM food", 30th October 2002)

By December 2002 US frustration with Zambia had reached such a point that the US Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies was quoted by Reuters as calling for African leaders who rejected genetically engineered food aid from the U.S. to be tried "for the highest crimes against humanity in the highest courts of the world."' (Reuters News Service, December 9) http://ngin.tripod.com/180103a.htm

In January 2003 US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick claimed the European Union (EU) was to blame and that it had threatened Zambia with sanctions if it accepted the GM grain. This claim appeared in a series of articles in the U.S. press. According to Knight Ridder columnist Paul Driessen in the Sun Herald, for instance,  "environmental radicals and the European Union are screaming "genetic pollution" and threatening to withdraw aid and ban agricultural exports from any countries that plant or distribute the [GM] grains."  

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, denying that either the EU or member states had ever made their aid for African countries contingent on those nations banning GM crops, EU Trade Commissioner Lamy stated, "We very much regret that US officials are peddling this rumor". Lamy also accused the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses. The simple solution is for the US to behave as a real aid donor," he said.  http://ngin.tripod.com/220103e.htm

The EU Trade Commissioner was also quoted by Dow Jones International News: "The fact that (the US) made this link is very simply immoral" and he once again accused the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses."  http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=52895

European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson waded in with, "This very negative lie has been circulated and repeated recently by [US Trade Representative] Robert Zoellick." Nielson told reporters he wanted to propose a deal to the Americans which would create a more normal situation.  "The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them."  http://ngin.tripod.com/200103d.htm

EU trade commissioner Lamy also hit out in an interview with Newsweek: "Zambia is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions. Zambians do not need to be heroic to assert their sovereignty... GM-free supplies are
available in surplus in southern Africa. Europe's policy is to provide food aid procured in the region, rather than as a means of disposing of domestic stocks."  http://www.msnbc.com/news/861362.asp

A story in quotations...

"Two leading international environment and development groups accused the US yesterday of manipulating the southern African food crisis to benefit their GM food interests and of using the UN to distribute domestic food surpluses which could not otherwise find a market... Greenpeace and Actionaid also accused the US government's overseas aid body [USAID] of offering only GM food when conventional foods were available."
US 'dumping unsold GM food on Africa', The Guardian, October 7, 2002

"Whilst getting food to hungry people is paramount, the threat of starvation should not be used as a bargaining chip for the introduction of GM technology. African governments and civil society organisations have raised legitimate concerns about GM. They worry about its safety for health and the environment, how it is controlled and by whom and about the impact of GM on the future livelihoods of their citizens.  These concerns should be addressed, not ridden over roughshod."
Donald Mavunduse, ActionAid's Emergencies Programme Adviser
ACTIONAID SPEAKS OUT ON GM FOOD AID

"Zambian Vice President Enock Kavindele told Reuters in Lusaka that his country had declined a $50 million (31 million pounds) line of credit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of provisions that it would have to purchase GMO commodities."
Eat GM or starve, America tells Africa, Reuters, July 26, 2002

"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 instalment."
Dr Raj Patel, Another Poisoned Chalice in Africa

"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 (‘Seedling’, October 2002)
 

"Eat GM or starve" is a false choice

Between now and March, southern Africa will need up to 2m tonnes of emergency food aid grain.  The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation says there are 1.16m tonnes of exportable non-GM maize in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa.  Europe, Brazil, India and China have surpluses running into many tens of millions of tonnes. Even in the US, more than 50% of the harvest has been kept GM-free. As Guardian columnist George Monbiot has commented, "All the starving people in southern Africa, Ethiopia and the world's other hungry regions could be fed without the use of a single genetically modified grain."
http://ngin.tripod.com/191102a.htm

"Our leaders could take that conventional corn [the 50% of US corn that is non-GM] and donate it to African people facing hunger. And just in case some genetically modified characteristics slipped in, our government should mill the corn. That would fairly well avoid any possibility of destroying the Africans' export markets the way ours were destroyed by trying to force biotech corn onto countries that don't want it."
Robert Schubert, CropChoice editor, "Offer African countries the non-biotech corn"

"If the aid agencies had cash rather than maize they could resolve the crisis without touching GM, said Guy Scott, a former Zambian agriculture minister. 'But it is the official policy of USAid (the US agency for international development) to promote GM."
Zambians starve as food aid lies rejected, The Guardian , Thursday October 17, 2002

The USAID website candidly states: "The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans."
Download the Greenpeace report on USAID and GM food aid
http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/MultimediaFiles/Live/FullReport/5243.pdf
 

How the US violates the Food Aid Convention

The US is a signatory of the 1999 Food Aid Convention, which recognises that food aid should be bought from the most cost effective source, be culturally acceptable and if possible purchased locally so that regional markets do not suffer. Despite this...

  • The US is refusing southern African governments loans that are not tied to the purchase of GM contaminated grain from the US.
  • The US says it is impossible for it to provide anything other than GM contaminated grain in spite of the fact that 50% of US elevators can and do segregate GM and non-GM grains
  • The US refuses to mill the GM grain even though African countries facing famine have requested this
  • The US boasts that "The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States"
  • The US introduced Public Law 480 to ensure that food aid never interfered with "domestic production or marketing" 
  • USAID also states one of its roles is to "integrate GM into local food systems." 
  • George Bush has increased the US aid budget specifically for the purpose of encouraging the uptake of biotechnology. Earlier this year, USAID launched a $100m programme for bringing biotechnology to developing countries. USAID's "training" and "awareness raising programmes" will, its website reveals, provide companies such as "Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto" with opportunities for "technology transfer". Monsanto, in turn, provides financial support for USAID. 
FIND OUT MORE - READ THE ARTICLE:"BETTER DEAD THAN GM FED?"

"It is important to get prior consent from a country rather than imposing GE contaminated food grain on a nation."
Dr Lewanika, a scientific advisor to the Zambian government
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/300802c.htm

"Asked if people were going 'too far' by saying that gene-altered humanitarian exports were part of a strategy to spread the crops around the world, [Neil E. Harl, a professor of economics at Iowa State University] said: 'I'm not sure that is going too far.' "
http://ngin.tripod.com/020802e.htm

"The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GMOs] that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."
Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International, Toronto Star, January 9 2001

"If the US insists on imposing this genetically modified maize on our people, we will be justified in questioning their motive."
Editorial, Dignity in hunger, The Post, Zambia, July 30, 2002

"It is unconscionable that the U.S. administration would use the threat of mass starvation as means to promote products that potentially carry a wide range of health and environmental risks... Yet all some folks in the U.S. government and business communities can think of is how to make even more money off their suffering,"
James Clancy, president of Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees
"NUPGE condemns famine exploitation to sell GM foods", NUPGE, October 9 2002

"The USA wants to see its corporations control life's most basic resources, including seeds, food crops and water. Unfortunately for southern Africa, the drought plays right into this unprincipled strategy."
Dr. Lawrence J. Goodwin of The Africa Faith & Justice Network, a USA-based NGO comprised of Catholic religious and social justice groups, quoted in AFJN DENOUNCES IMPOSING GM FOOD AID ON AFRICA
 

Oxfam calls for food aid to be GM-free

The New Scientist has revealed that food aid has been GM contaminated for years - a fact kept secret from recipient nations until now. James Morris of the US-dominated World Food Programme has admitted the agency has been responsible for shipping GM Food Aid without consent. "The World Food Program has been distributing food with some biotech content in Africa and around the world for seven years, " he said in an article in the International Herald Tribune clearly intended to counter the impact of the New Scientist revelations.

In addition, test results in a series of countries have shown that not only have GM foods unapproved in recipient countries been turning up in food aid, but so too have GMOs that have not been approved even in donor countries like the US. http://www.foe.org/foodaid/

Oxfam is among the aid agencies that have called for food aid to be kept GM free 

"Oxfam stresses the need to guarantee human health and biodiversity, and respect the social and cultural context of food aid recipient countries, and urges governments and FAO to develop and implement food aid standards that prevent the distribution of GMOs in food aid.

Oxfam supports the concerns expressed by a number of its partners who demand a moratorium on GMOs and the improved enforcement of monitoring systems to stop GMOs from entering vulnerable populations through food aid." 

Oxfam International has also noted:

- Food aid programmes have historically been used inappropriately with industrialised countries using them to dispose of surpluses and create food dependencies. Such abuse continues today.

- Genetically modified food aid may have negative effects for human health and livelihoods, and therefore it is counterproductive to its declared objectives. 

- Introducing GMO’s through food aid may have adverse effects on biodiversity, since part of it is used as seeds, contaminating local species. 

- As such, food aid containing GMOs is in contradiction with the precautionary principle, secured in the Carthagena Biosafety Protocol. 

See: Oxfam condemns the distribution of food aid contaminated with GMOs

The latest twist in a long and cynical marketing campaign...

'Aid is the last unregulated export market open to US farmers as worried European and Asian consumers shun GM grain and introduce strict import and labelling rules'
'America finds ready market for GM food - the hungry', by Declan Walsh (The Independent, 30 March 2000)

'Food assistance has enabled the allocation of products which could not have been exported in the absence of concessional financing and subsequently has allowed total North American exports to increase."
North American Congress Research Services in a report to Congress, April 1994

"Countries in the grip of a crisis... should not be faced with a dilemma between allowing a million people to starve to death and allowing their genetic pool to be polluted".
Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher of Ethiopia, quoted in 'America finds ready market for GM food - the hungry', by Declan Walsh (The Independent, 30 March 2000)

"Consumption of Genetically Modified (GM) maize must not be allowed into the country until a policy and legislation are in place, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) acting president Ajay Vashee has said."
Don't Allow GM Maize in Absence of Policy - ZNFU, The Post (Lusaka), October 16, 2002

'If these crops get in, then farmers basically lose their rights to their own agricultural resources.'
Carole Collins, senior policy analyst for the Washington-based Africa Faith and Justice Network, a USA-based NGO comprised of Catholic religious and social justice groups

"It is highly unethical not to just cover the costs for milling. Tell me how much it costs to drop one bomb on Afghanistan. Who is starving whom here?"
Carol Thompson, a political economist at Northern Arizona University
http://ngin.tripod.com/020802e.htm

"...[African] government subsidies on maize production have been discontinued under pressure from the World Trade Organization [but] it now seems that it's OK for the starving here to eat subsidised maize, just as long as it is GM and grown in America."
Andrew Clegg, Windhoek, Namibia in a letter to New Scientist

"The IMF told our government to sell off all of our grain reserves to help make loan payments... Hasn't anyone ever heard the story in the Bible of Joseph saving up grain for the coming famine in Egypt? Now our people are facing real hunger. I have come to South Africa to find work. And that work is now, ironically, to unload GE food relief from ships from America. Malawi will have no choice but to accept GE foods now. When people are desperate, they will accept anything - a dictator, food, sterilization - you name it."
Siswe Nbele, a Malawian dockworker, quoted in 'Frankenfoods create furor on Dark Continent'
WorldNetDaily, US, October 10, 2002

"Beggars can't be choosers."
A State Department official, commenting on southern African nations' resistance to accepting shipments of US food aid containing genetically engineered ingredients (Washington Post, August 2 2002)
http://ngin.tripod.com/160802a.htm

"A delegate from Nigeria congratulated Zambia for taking a courageous stand, criticised the CGIAR for [GE] research that harms Africa, and called for African unity. The delegate from Ethiopia, Million Belay… condemned the World Food Programme for "selling the interest of only one country", the United States."
‘Africa Unites Against GM’, ISIS

"The Zambian government has so far refused to accept the grain... This threatens the interests both of large-scale agricultural corporations in the U.S., who receive over $1 billion in contracts in food aid, as well as challenging the life sciences industry. "
Food First Press Release, October 15, 2002

"There is absolutely no justification to produce genetically modified food except the profit motive and the domination of the multinational corporations."
U.N. human rights envoy and special investigator on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, commenting on the food aid crisis
U.N. food envoy questions safety of gene crops (Reuters, 15 Oct 2002)
 

Tragedy as opportunity
the GM lobby and the food aid crisis

"all some folks in the U.S. government and business communities can think of is how to make even more money off [Africa's] suffering," - James Clancy, president of Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees

For some the situation in southern Africa is not just a tragedy, it's an opportunity - an opportunity to dump otherwise unmarketable GM crop surpluses, an opportunity to create future food dependencies, and above all an opportunity to introduce GMOs to countries that would otherwise be resistant to them and which are ill prepared to deal with the consequences. 

The resistance to such opportunism in turn provides the biotech industry and its supporters, in the US administration and beyond, with an additional opportunity - the opportunity to pressurise international bodies - from the European Union to the World Health Organisation to the Vatican - to endorse GMOs and join its arm-twisting of reluctant nations. 

"We have been pushed around by the way the Americans have put pressure on this issue."
EU development commissioner, Poul Nielson on the US food aid strategy

Another target has been the biotech industry's critics, both in Africa and elsewhere, who have been portrayed as the merchants of death for having raised concerns over GM food. 

At the "Earth Summit" in Johannesburg in September 2002, African delegates expressed their anger at "the emotional blackmail of vulnerable people" that was going on.

"We, African Civil Society groups, participants to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, composed of more than 45 African countries, join hands with the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments and their people in rejecting GE contaminated food for our starving brothers and sisters: We refuse to be used as the dumping ground for contaminated food, rejected by the Northern countries; and we are enraged by the emotional blackmail of vulnerable people in need, being used in this way. 
Steering Committee of the African Civil Society Group - download their statement

But African civil society and governmental protests were countered by an attack on the Zambian government by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell who was booed by official delegates when he referred to the need to accept GM maize. 

But it wasn't only Powell who was on the attack at the "Earth Summit". According to Roger Bate (a pro-GM lobbyist who has been shown to draw financial support from the tobacco industry):

"One of the more interesting aspects of the debate was that the most fervent pro-GM attack on the Zambian President did not come from the biotech industry but from the head of the aid agency that sent the food. Andrew Natsios is the Director of the US Agency for International Development [USAID]. And he was easily the most effective proponent of the technology at, and after, the WSSD."
'From Jo'burg to Des Moines', Tech Central Station

USAID's fervently pro-GM stance was no accident. Promoting GM is an official part of the role assigned to an agency which publicly boasts of how its activities create major markets for America's agricultural exports. (Download the Greenpeace report on USAID and GM food aid)

Aid agencies outside the US generally take a very different view:

"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 (London) October 21, 2002

But it's not just been resistance in Africa that the GM lobby has been gunning for.

"[Bernd Halling, of the biotech industry's umbrella group EuropaBio] says that the green lobby has 'built up this GMO issue to the point that it is illogical. [The famine in Africa] is the first issue that has the ability to destroy their credibility… I want to know if they are going to accept responsibility for the people that will die as a result of the refusal of GM aid', said Halling." 
'Of Famine and Food Aid: GM Food Internationally', Agbiotechbuzz

Juan Lopez, of Friends of the Earth International who attended the Earth Summit dismisses such claims, "Clearly African leaders are looking at the information available and deciding for themselves what action to take. The idea that advocacy groups critical of biotechnology are leading African officials to reject genetically engineered crops is ridiculous. The biotech industry has 50 lobbyists for every environmental advocate."
http://www.foe.org/foodaid/gefoodaidfoei.html

In the forefront of the lobbyists' attacks has been the AgBioWorld Foundation headed by Prof CS Prakash of Tuskegee University, USA. AgBioWorld has worked flat out to label the industry's critics as 'killers' of the hungry. Unmentioned is the fact that as well as being a GM lobbyist, Prakash is also an advisor to USAID while his university enjoys multi-million dollar contracts with the agency. Prakash also, according to a series of newspaper articles in The Guardian and elsewhere, works hand in glove with Monsanto's PR operatives who use his listserv to initiate attacks on the company's critics. http://members.tripod.com/ngin/deceit7.html
http://members.tripod.com/ngin/deceit3.html

AgBioWorld's co-founder is Gregory Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute - an organisation described by PR Watch as "a well funded corporate front". GM firm Dow Chemicals is amongst its corporate donors, as is the US tobacco and food giant, Philip Morris. Needless to say, the CEI opposes restrictions on smoking just as vociferously as it does those on GM foods.
http://www.prwatch.org/improp/cei.html

But AgBioWorld presents its campaigning as that of a group of disinterested scientists. Thus, as part of its attack on a Zambian Catholic group with concerns about GM food aid, AgBioWorld issued a report said to be authored by "a group of scholars". As well as Prakash and Conko, the "scholars" included Andrew Apel, the editor of a biotech industry newsletter, who has called on the US to bomb Zambia with its GM grain if it continues to reject it. On a discussion list Apel wrote of the crisis, "I can almost picture the darkies laying down their lives for the vacuous ideals... their death throes, how picturesque, among the baobab trees and the lions!" http://ngin.tripod.com/161002b.htm


October 30, 2002
Academics Say Africans Going Hungry Because of Activist Scare Tactics
 A new report by European and American scholars challenges the Jesuit Centre for Theological
   Reflection's support for Zambia's refusal of food aid containing genetically modified corn.
Monsanto newsletter presenting the attack on Zambia's Jesuit Centre 
   for Theological Reflection and Jesuit-run Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre

AgBioWorld also issued a press release calling on "activist organizations to formally endorse food aid shipments and to not repeat the mistakes of Orissa." The press release implied that thousands had died in the Indian state of Orissa as a result of resistance to GM contaminated food aid. Such claims are a fabrication, as Indian food and trade policy analyst, Devinder Sharma has pointed out. The deaths in Orissa were caused by a super-cyclone and were totally unconnected with the controversy over US food aid . (For more on AgBioWorld's PR work during the crisis in Southern Africa: http://ngin.tripod.com/161002b.htm)

The deceit and lies of the GM lobby serve only to distract attention from the urgent need to resolve the problems in Southern Africa and get some of the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of non-GM grain that's available to where it's most needed. 

"The tragedy is that while these well monied types try to filibuster the democratic process in Zambia, people are starving. And there's safe food in the region which USAID will not buy, because it doesn't support U.S. business, and doesn't involve loans from the World Bank"
Dr. Raj Patel, author of Another Poisoned Chalice in Africa

If people do die because of the US/USAID stance, no one should be in any doubt as to how the GM lobby will try and exploit it. The AgBioWorld spin over "Orissa" makes that all too plain. As does Monsanto's spin of the AgBioworld attack on Catholic groups in Zambia which it headlined as, "Academics Say Africans Going Hungry Because of Activist Scare Tactics".

Similarly, EuropaBio's assessment of the food aid crisis as "the first issue that has the ability to destroy their (the critics) credibility", provides the rationale for the demand that the industry's critics "accept responsibility for the people that will die as a result of the refusal of GM aid".  And the same unsavoury sense of anticipation seems present in AgBioWorld supporter, Andrew Apel's comments about "darkies laying down their lives" and "picturesque" death throes". 

"There are 800 million hungry people in the world; 34,000 children starve to death every day. There are those who consider this a tragedy, and then there are the biotech companies and their countless PR firms, who seem to consider it a flawless hook for product branding... the companies who make [GE foods], and the flacks who hawk their falsehoods, offer us a new definition of depravity, a new standard to plunge for in our race to care least, want more, and divest ourselves of all shame."
Michael Manville - Welcome to the Spin Machine

a long and cynical campaign...

"To date, there is not a single human-subject study that demonstrates the safety of GM food, and the Mexican experience in which local varieties of maize were contaminated speaks to the need for caution. This whole affair isn't about science, though. The GM lobby know better than most that control over the food system is all about politics."
Dr Peter Rosset of Food First, BIOTECH INDUSTRY LOBBY GROUP ATTACKS ZAMBIAN PRO-FOOD-RIGHTS GROUP

"Food aid programmes have historically been used inappropriately with industrialised countries using them to dispose of surpluses and create food dependencies. Such abuse continues today."
Oxfam, Oxfam condemns the distribution of food aid contaminated with GMOs

Dr Wilma Salgado, a former consultant to the World Food Programme in Ecuador points out that US food assistance to Ecuador has nearly wiped out the country's local production of wheat and rendered it dependent on wheat imports from the US, thus threatening its food security while creating a market for US exports. Dr Salgado writes, "The injustice called "food assistance" constitutes yet another example of the so common double language used by the United States for its economic interests. "Food assistance" in reality is a support to its own farmers to expand their market, just as the strongly promoted "free trade" in third countries has enabled them to expand their (US) market. At the same time the US has increased its non-tariff barriers to limit the import of products that could compete on the US market."
Dr Wilma Salgado, Food assistance or export assistance? (translated from Spanish)

"I have heard . . . that people may become dependent on us for food. I know that was not supposed to be good news. To me that was good news, because before people can do anything they have got to eat. And if you are looking for a way to get people to lean on you and to be dependent on you, in terms of their cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence would be terrific."
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, in naming US Public Law 480 which ensures that food aid never interferes with "domestic production or marketing"  (Wall Street Journal, May 7, 1982)

"At the height of the 1974 famine in the newly born Bangladesh, the US had withheld 2.2 million tonnes of food aid to 'ensure that it abandoned plans to try Pakistani war criminals'. And a year later, when Bangladesh was faced with severe monsoons and imminent floods, the then US Ambassador to Bangladesh made it abundantly clear that the US probably could not commit food aid because of Bangladesh's policy of exporting jute to Cuba. And by the time Bangladesh succumbed to the American pressure, and stopped jute exports to Cuba, the food aid in transit was 'too late for famine victims'. Food was then a political weapon. Food aid has now in addition become a commercial enterprise."
Devinder Sharma, Famine as commerce: Africa's tragedy, AgBioIndia 6 August 2002

FIND OUT MORE - READ THE ARTICLE: "BETTER DEAD THAN GM FED?"

The problems go wider than food aid...

"Dodgy industries selling dubious wares have long headed for the Third World when their activities have been questioned in the West. The biotech industry has been following this well-trodden path ever since consumers in Europe turned against GM food and crops. And these wares have had unprecedented backing from the US government, which has relentlessly bullied reluctant governments in developing countries to accept them."
Independent on Sunday, Leading Article: ‘GM by the back door’

"Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security."
Christian Aid report: "Biotechnology and GMOs"

FIND OUT MORE - READ THE REPORT: 'Feeding or Fooling the World - Can GM really feed the hungry?'
download (as a pdf file) the Five Year Freeze's new report (October 2002)

more quotes on GMOs and the Third World

feeding the world

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