This comment from Consumers International is spot on: "The WFP had adequate warning from the governments of Angola and Sudan of their positions on GM food aid. Rather than act on those decisions in an appropriate and timely manner, the WFP instead chose to ignite controversy."
Indeed, there are strong indications that this US-dominated agency has also been feeding reports to the media in an effort to further increase the pressure on governments refusing GM-contaminated food aid.
The global voice for consumers
CI joins African NGOs in GM food aid protest
5 May 2004
Consumers International has joined 60 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 15 African countries in an open letter to the World Food Programme (WFP). The letter protests against the pressure exerted by the WFP and USAID (the US government food aid programme) on Sudan and Angola over their decisions to impose restrictions on GM food aid.
Sudan has requested that food aid be certified 'GM free'. The Sudanese government placed an interim waiver on the GM food restriction until July 2004. Despite the waiver, USAID cut off food aid and continued to exert pressure on Sudan. As a result the Sudan government has extended the waiver for a further six months, allowing the distribution of GM food until January 2005.
Angola will accept GM food aid only if GM grain is first milled. The WFP has responded by saying that Angola will face a significant decrease in food aid if it insists on these conditions.
The NGO letter says that WFP and USAID should immediately desist from presenting the governments with 'no choice' scenario and forcing them to accept GM food aid. Instead the WFP should guarantee the right of countries to reject or impose restrictions on GM food aid.
The letter says WFP must take note of the August 2003 recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and Biosafety of the Southern African Development Community, (SADC), of which Angola is a member, that its member states mill all GM grain before accepting it as food aid. The WFP had adequate warning from the governments of Angola and Sudan of their positions on GM food aid. Rather than act on those decisions in an appropriate and timely manner, the WFP instead chose to ignite controversy.
Amadou Kanoute, Director of Consumers International Regional Office for Africa, says: 'The WFP appears to have learnt little from the Southern African food aid crisis in 2002, when several Southern African countries imposed restrictions on GM food aid. These countries also faced overwhelming pressure from USAID and the WFP. However, Zambia, which imposed an outright ban on the acceptance of GM food aid, not only managed to cope with its crisis, but is now able to export non-GM food to its neighbours.'
A new report from Earthlife Africa titled 'GM Food Aid: Africa denied choice once again' shows that non-GM alternatives exist at national, regional and international levels, and donors should make these available to Sudan and Angola. The WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) officially recognise that Sudan has surplus food available in the country. Non-GM alternatives need to be fully explored in Angola.
To view the letter addressed by African NGOs to the WFP, and the new report see:
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