African experts blame GM foods for rise in cancer cases
"[UK Prime Minister] Blair's chief scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology [GM] 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
Malawi experts blame GM foods for rise in cancer cases
Panafrican News Agency, 21 Jul 2004
Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - The Malawi National Cancer Registry (MNCR) has warned that consumption of Genetically Modified (GM) foods can contribute to cancer cases.
MNRC reports that Cancer, which takes five to 10 years to develop, is dramatically increasing in Malawi recording up to 2, 900 cases annually.
MNRC director, Dr Charles Dzamalala said there might be a linkage between the increasing cancer cases and the proliferation of GM foods on the local market.
"Malawi has no capacity to detect prevailing types of cancer and treat them using surgical excision, the theatre or prescriptions of anti-cancer drugs," he said. "Moreover, some cancer types are incurable."
The country does not have cancer specialists (oncologists) hence they refer patients to neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania for treatment. To mitigate the disease, the cancer registry has initiated a campaign to educate the masses on the problem.
"Urban people are more prone to cancer risk because they are more exposed to air, contaminated water and industrial pollution," said Dzamalala.
In Malawi, the commonest types of cancer include Karposis sarcoma, cancer of the cervix, of the conjunctiva, malignant lymphoma and breast cancer. Experts say there is a link between cancer and HIV/AIDS, which they claim, has fuelled the cases.
Karposis sarcoma is the major type.
Research has shown that diet rich in fat, consumption of large quantities of smoked fish and preserved meat with low fibre is related to high incidence of cancer.
Available data indicates that up to 30 percent of such cancers are caused by bad dietary habits.
A diet rich in fibre may provide 40 percent protection from cancer of the large bowel.
Controversy over GM food flared in 2001/2002 farming season when Malawi was severely hit by famine that inflicted several countries of southern Africa due to prolonged dry spells.
Donor states, notably the United States, ferried tonnes of biotech maize to the starved region. But Zimbabwean and Zambian governments refused to distribute the maize to hungry populations for fear of its dangers.
Malawi, however, accepted the GM maize. But former agriculture minister Aleke Banda expressed fears in Parliament that some ignorant farmers were planting the GM food. He dispatched officials from his ministry to uproot such maize crops.
"We have been warned of the environmental and health hazards of GMO foods and no farmer should be allowed to use such maize for planting material," he warned.
The Malawi government and the UN World Food Programme resolved to mill all GM maize before distribution to the needy.