UK Cabinet Minister Denounces US
Force Feeding Frankenfoods to the Hungry

UK Government Minister Condemns "Wicked" USAID GM Food Policy
November 27, 2002
By Genetic Food Alert (UK)

UK Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, has condemned as 'wicked' USAID's
"GM or Death" food aid ultimatum to African nations. At a House of Commons
briefing this morning, he said "it's wicked when there is such an excess of
non-GM food aid available for GM to be forced on countries for reasons of GM
politics". He continued "if there is an area where anger needs to be
harnessed it is here".

Meacher suggested that European Union governments might step in to provide
an alternative to the GM aid offered by the World Food Programme and USAID.
This is, in fact, already happening - nations disgusted at USAID's 'tied
aid' policy are providing extra cash to ensure that Zambia can obtain non-GM
food. The European Commission has now given Zambia 15 million pounds to
purchase non-GM food 'because the EC respected Zambian government's decision
to reject transgenic foods' whilst Japan has provided 12.4 million dollars
to the region and has asked the WFP to supply Zambia with corn that is not
genetically modified. Development charities in several nations have also
provided cash or non-GM food.

Meacher's statement echoed that of Professor David King , the UK
Government's Chief Scientist, who in September "denounced the United States'
attempts to force the technology into Africa as a 'massive human
experiment'," and "questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood
genetically modified foods into African countries" (The Observer 1/9/02)

At the House of Commons briefing for MPs today, Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher,
one of Africa's leading food & agriculture experts, argued that GM crops are
not the solution to Africa's hunger crisis - a view shared by the fellow
speaker, Devinder Sharma, India's top food policy analyst. Britain's top
development organisations are in agreement. They have told the Prime
Minister that GM foods will not solve world hunger - they may even increase
poverty and malnutrition. The British Overseas Aid Group (BOAG) agencies,
which include Oxfam, Action Aid, Save the Children, CAFOD and Christian Aid,
have written to the Prime Minister's office to record their view that claims
that GM crops will feed the world are "misleading and fail to address the
complexities of poverty reduction". They are concerned that they will not
help the small farmers and poor people in the rural Third World (The
Independent, 10 Nov 2002). Oxfam International, in a press release in June,
condemned the distribution of food aid contaminated with GMOs whilst Alex
Wijeratna of Action Aid stated "the UN confirms there is enough non-GM food
in southern Africa and on world markets... The US should [untie its aid] and
stop putting a GM gun to the head of hungry Zambians."

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) say in May last year (Le Monde): "We don't need GMOs to
feed the 800 million people who are hungry in the world today." His views
were echoed this month by UN food rights envoy Jean Ziegler, who issued a
statement saying that "Genetically modified organisms could pose a danger to
the human organism and public health in the medium and long term" and that
they would not solve the problem of world hunger. He said "I'm against the
theory of the multinational corporations who say if you are
against hunger you must be for GMO. That's wrong," Ziegler said, "There is
plenty of natural, normal good food in the world to nourish the double of

Opposition to USAID's policy has also come from the OECD. The Financial
Times on October 23rd reported that: 'The OECD said that US aid was still
overwhelmingly "tied" to the purchase of American exports, or delivered
directly in food aid - both of which have repeatedly been criticised by
development experts.'

All the nations of Africa (except South Africa) have been opposing GMOs
since 1998 - when they jointly signed a declaration condemning Monsanto and
its crops, entitled 'Let Nature's Harvest Continue'. Meanwhile in Africa
grassroots opposition to GM food and crops continues to grow amongst
consumers and farmers. At the Earth Summit and since many joint statements
condemning GM food aid have been signed by African farmers groups, consumer
groups and NGOs. Yesterday, African Consumer Leaders from 20 organizations
in 20 African countries, at a Consumers International conference in Lusaka,
issued a joint statement opposing GMOs - and it was announced today that so
far over 200 organisations from around the world have supported a
declaration initiated by a coalition of African organisations to express
concern about the dumping of unsellable GM crops in Africa.

USAID's wicked policy may now have reached the end of the line.

GM food will not ease hunger
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
The Independent on Sunday (UK), 10 November 2002

Britain's top aid charities have told the Prime Minister that
genetically modified foods will not solve world hunger, but may actually
increase poverty and malnutrition.

Their intervention - in a joint submission to the Government's official
debate on GM crops and foods - strikes a devastating blow at a central
plank of its support for the controversial technology.

Tony Blair and key advisers have wholeheartedly supported the claims of
the biotech industry that GM crops are needed to feed the world. Two
years ago a Cabinet report claimed they could win the war against
hunger, and the year before the Government's then hugely-influential
scientific adviser, Lord May, said it was his main reason for supporting

But Prince Charles provoked private Prime Ministerial fury by describing
this argument as "suspiciously like emotional blackmail".

The new submission - signed by the directors of Oxfam, Christian Aid,
Save the Children, Cafod and Action Aid, and sent to Mr Blair's
Strategic Unit in the Cabinet Office - puts the moral and practical
authority of leading anti-hunger crusaders behind the prince and against
the Prime Minister.

The charity leaders say claims that GM crops will feed the world are
"misleading and fail to address the complexities of poverty reduction".
They acknowledge that the technology may have "potential benefits" but
are concerned they will not help the small farmers and poor people in
the rural Third World where their groups have practical experience.

They call on the Prime Minister to take a "precautionary approach" to
the technology, rather than giving it his enthusiastic support.

The charities say GM crops are likely to create more poverty. They point
out that hunger is not caused by a shortage of food, but because the
poor cannot afford to buy it.

In the past, new agricultural technologies like the Green Revolution
have tended to be taken up by rich farmers. They increase production and
force poor farmers out of business.

The charities fear that introducing GM technology will have even more
catastrophic effects because it is dominated by a few multinational
companies. Salil Sheehy, the director of Action Aid, says: "Farmers will
be caught in a vicious circle, increasingly dependent on a small number
of giant multinationals."

But in a remarkable initiative, the World Bank last week brought
together Oxfam and Greenpeace with the biotech giants Monsanto and
Syngenta to try to reach an agreement on the technologies needed to feed
the world.

The meeting in Dublin - which also included ministers and officials from
19 governments and representatives of eight UN agencies - decided to
start a series of consultations which could lead to the most
comprehensive international assessment of the risks and benefits of
biotechnology, organic farming and other new agricultural techniques.

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