ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

10 September 2002


2. Zambia to get wheat instead of GM food


1. AFJN denounces imposing GM food aid on Africa

Africa Faith & Justice Network

The Africa Faith & Justice Network, a USA-based NGO comprised of Catholic religious and social justice groups, denounced USA policies of imposing genetically modified (GM) food aid on southern African countries facing severe drought and famine.  Dr. Lawrence J. Goodwin, representing AFJN at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, stated, "This tactic blatantly benefits agri-business, not poor and hungry people." Echoing the analysis of many NGOs at the summit, he said, "The USA could have paid to mill the American maize, as southern African governments requested, or purchased organic grain to send to the drought-stricken region, instead of insisting on shipping GM whole grain knowing that local farmers would plant it."

Goodwin, who worked in Africa for 10-years, expressed dismay at USA moves to use the desperate situation in southern Africa for its own market advantage.  "Africans have consistently rejected GM grain.  Now pollen from the genetically altered maize will contaminate local varieties, which USA companies expect will ultimately make local farmers dependent on corporate seeds and herbicides," he said. "Corporations can claim patent rights over farmers' crops that have been polluted by the GM plants, which will only lead to African smallholder farmers losing control of their seeds, crops, and perhaps of their land itself."  By planting GM seeds, African countries will also lose access to their primary export market, Europe, causing long-term devastation to their struggling economies.

AFJN has worked for 20-years on economic justice for Africa and spent the last 2-years urging the USA Government to support African farmer and community rights.  In November 2001 it was instrumental in the introduction of a House of Representatives resolution upholding African community prerogatives to access, save, use and breed seeds and crops as opposed to corporate actions to own and control them.

"The USA wants to see its corporations control life's most basic resources, including seeds, food crops and water," Goodwin said.  "Unfortunately for southern Africa, the drought plays right into this unprincipled strategy."

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2. Zambia to get wheat instead of GM food

Business Day (South Africa) 10 September 2002

LUSAKA - The World Food Programme says it's considering giving Zambia wheat. This after its government rejected genetically modified maize to help feed more than two million people threatened by starvation.

WFP executive director James Morris told journalists that the UN agency and the Zambian government were now working on a project to find out how much wheat Zambia would need.

"We have already agreed to provide wheat, which is non-GM," Morris said.

The Zambian government rejected food aid which was genetically modified, saying the food must first be proven safe for human consumption and the environment.

Morris said the WFP also has acquired about 12,000 tonnes of yellow maize from South Africa, which is not genetically modified, to feed the hungry Zambians who have been affected with famine caused by an unrelenting drought.

"We have told the Zambian government that we will do everything possible to help whenever we can," Morris said.

He said the Zambian government has given them permission to distribute GM foods in refugee camps, on condition that the food is milled before it is given out.

The Zambian government has so far sent its scientists to different western countries to do further studies on the safety of the GM foods before making any further decision on the matter.

Morris said Zambia needed about $72 million to feed the hungry people, though donors have only pledged about $25 million.

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