The EU has rejected Washington’s plea to reassure famine-stricken African countries that genetically modified food aid from the US is safe.
Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, threatened by starvation,
have rejected US genetically modified (GM) food aid, fearing that
it could harm their agricultural exports to the EU. They also fear
GM food may be harmful to people.
Washington appealed on Brussels to give
assurances to African states that GM food was safe. However,
Commission officials said the US can solve the problem by buying
food aid locally, the way the EU does, to provide the African
nations with non-GM food.
The US is supplying 500,000 tonnes of food,
which is about half the food aid requirements, to southern Africa
by the end of the year. The rejected food is being stockpiled in
South Africa’s port of Durban. The State Department is worried that
thousands of lives will be sacrificed due to “misinformation about
the safety of agricultural biotechnology”.
According to the World Health Organisation
(WHO), starvation threatens 13 million people in southern Africa,
and could claim 300,000 lives in the coming months.
The WHO is organising a three-day meeting with
southern African governments from 26 to 28 August in Harare to try
to find a compromise on controversial GM food.