GM-food: good or bad for developing countries?

UNDP criticised over report suggesting GMOs could be vital to developing countries trying to improve living standards

The UNDP report asserts that developments in biotechnology
and information technology would directly help developing states.
It argues against a blanket rejection of GMOs and claims that GMOs
could be the answer to ending malnutrition in less developed
countries by developing seeds resistant to extreme weather
conditions. The report argues that developing countries like
Argentina and Egypt, which have permitted the production of GMOs,
can create biosafety systems that make it possible for them to move
forward in managing technological safety.

According to the UN report, the current debate
in Europe and the United States over GMOs has totally ignored the
concerns of the developing world. GMOs have been put on hold in
industrialised states and are heavily under attack in the United
States and the EU because of the alleged health and environmental


The European Parliamentary EFA/Green Group criticised the
United Nations for suggesting that only rich countries can say no
to GM-food. They say the UNDP report assumes that the reluctance of
consumers in developed states to embrace GMOs is a luxury choice
based on "irrational or emotional grounds". In addition, they argue
that the objections to GMOs are equally valid for consumers and the
environment in the developing world as they are for the developed

MEP Caroline Lucas, speaking on behalf of the
Greens/EFA Group noted that, "By publishing such reports, the UNDP
risk allowing itself to become a vehicle for industry

Greenpeace refuted the claims of the report,
saying that it presented unsubstantiated promises of the genetic
engineering (GE) industry while dismissing the environmental risks
and ignoring the real challenges of agriculture in developing

"The Northern Industry hype about GMOs will not
feed the world but could put entire ecosystems at risk thereby
posing greater threats to global food security," concluded Von
Hernandez, Campaigns Director for Greenpeace South East Asia.


The United Nations released a report on 10 July that suggests
that industrialised states should set aside their reservations over
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to help developing
states take advantage of the potential of biotechnology
agriculture. The report was heavily criticised by the Greens/EFA
Group in the European Parliament and Greenpeace.


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its
annual report,
Human Development Report 2001, which calls for harnessing
new technologies to help transform the lives of the poor. The Human
Development Report was first launched in 1990 with the single goal
of putting people back at the centre of the development process in
terms of economic debate, policy and advocacy.


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