22 November 2002
NO ONE DYING BECAUSE OF GM REJECTION - ZAMBIA
In the article below, along with yet more pro-GM propaganda from the US dominated World Food Programme, the head of the WFP says that may well not be any deaths as a result of Zambia's rejection of GM food aid.
If that does prove to be the case, it will be no thanks to the WFP who have behaved in what can only be described as a criminally irresponsible manner over this issue.
Zambia informed the WFP of their choice over GM back in June, which has left half a year for the WFP to source alternative non-GM food aid.
As George Monbiot noted earlier this week, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation "there are 1.16m tonnes of exportable maize in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa. Europe, Brazil, India and China have surpluses and stockpiles running into many tens of millions of tonnes. Even in the US, more than 50% of the harvest has been kept GM-free. 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://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,842999,00.html
Instead of taking immediate action to help respond to Zambia's need, the WFP chose to spend those months pressurising Southern African countries to accept GM grain, in what was clearly a calculated attempt to force Zambia to back down.
The suggestion that the choice is between GM or death has always been false. It's been a question of whether the US, USAID and the WFP, which has been forced to own up to delivering GM contaminated aid to recipient countries since 1996 without ever informing them, would risk, or even actively engineer, starvation in pursuit of their own agenda.
"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
for a primer on what's going on in southern Africa:
No one dying because of GM rejection: Zambia
Thursday November 21, 2002 2002
Genetically modified food will be a major tool in the fight against world hunger, despite refusal of some governments to allow in GM food, says the head of the United Nations World Food Program.
"There are lots of reasons to think that the development of genetically modified food, in the long run, will be one of the major contributors to world hunger and world poverty, but there is a huge misunderstanding," Jim Morris told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee Nov 5.
The misunderstanding includes a refusal by the southern African country of Zambia to allow GM corn into the country, despite the fact that millions of Zambians face potential starvation because of drought.
"It is a serious problem," Morris told an audience at a breakfast speech in the National Press Club before his Parliament Hill appearance. "If every country in the region said they would not accept it, we would be out of business."
He said the program is convinced the corn sent to Zambia is safe.
But in an interview, a Zambian academic said the country is united in rejecting GM products. He said non-GM food is available and despite news reports inspired by GM promoters, no one is dying because of the decision.
""Nobody is starving," said Obed Lungu, dean of the school of agriculture at the University of Zambia, during an Ottawa conference on trade negotiations and development. "There is alternate food available."
Morris agreed there will not be mass starvation but he did not rule out some deaths.
"I'm optimistic we will find a way to get around this," said the UN official. "I think we can do that without a serious loss of life."
He said the food program does distribute milled GM corn to as many as 130,000 refugees living in Zambia. But the government of Zambia remains determined to keep GM varieties out of the country.
"We have to sort this out," he said. "We have to convince them that this food is safe."
At the foreign affairs committee, Morris said it is a challenge.
"There is a mythology that's growing up around this that is very frightening," he said.
Meanwhile, Zambia is struggling with the fact that a warehouse was broken into and several bags of the GM corn were stolen.
While the corn likely was consumed as food, Lungu said there also are fears that it might be used as seed and the Zambian crop will be contaminated by GM varieties.
He said the government is demanding that the World Food Program pay for any damage and help get the unwanted GM corn out of the country.