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US Sends Afghanistan Tons of GE Seeds

US Sends Afghanistan Tons of GE Seeds

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USAID HELPS AFGHAN FARMERS REBUILD THROUGH
DONATIONS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED

January 28, 2002
The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology


"The United States Agency for International Development has begun
funding farming projects to help rebuild Afghanistan, a US official said,
reports Agence France Presse. Andrew Natsios, administrator of the
US Agency for International Development (USAID) said some of the
projects were started in November, at the same time US warplanes
began bombing Afghanistan.
(ref.2442)

Anticipating an early end to the bombing campaign in most of the country,
USAID had funded non-government organizations and other agencies in
Afghanistan to the tune of $90 million "with specific instructions to begin
reconstruction immediately." Genetically modified seeds given to farmers
in Kamari village, about 30 miles north of Kabul, he said, had already seen
yields 300 percent greater than normal.

"The farmers were so pleased with it they are now planning 200 tons of
seed for the next planting season," he said.

"So we have started the reconstruction effort, we are simply ratcheting
it up now that we have almost $300 million worth of resources. We can
extend it much more rapidly to more areas."

The US donated $296.75 million as part of the overall $4.5 billion pledged
towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan at the international donors'
conference in Tokyo. Natsios announced USAID had opened an official
mission office in Afghanistan to administer the US reconstruction program,
with an initial staff complement of 10.

He said some of the villages he had visited in the past days "had more
devastation than any civil war I have been to in the past 13 years ...
and I've been to virtually all of the civil wars except East Timor." Natsios
said he had a two-hour meeting with Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai
earlier in the day.

"We got into great detail about the kinds of things he is interested in
seeing done and the help he would like to get from USAID and the US
government." These included agricultural projects, small-scale enterprises
that would create jobs, and a revival of the education system that the
Taliban, which was toppled early December, had all-but destroyed in
favor of religious schooling. Natsios defended the use of genetically modified
material in Afghanistan. "One of the only ways we are going to be able
to feed the developing world and upgrade the agricultural system in the
third world is through genetically modified material."

Most health ministers in the developing world, he added, supported this
position."

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