BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 18:25 GMT
Famine-hit Zambia rejects GM food aid
Failing crops
Some 14 million are at risk of famine across the region
The Zambian Government has finally decided not to accept a donation of genetically modified food for nearly three million of its people facing famine.

The decision was taken after the Zambian Government despatched a team of scientists around the world to study the potential effects of importing GM crops.

The food aid was initially offered by the international community to Zambia and five other Southern African countries, but President Levy Mwanawasa referred to the food as "poison".

"In view of the current scientific uncertainty surrounding the issue... government has decided to base its decision not to accept GM foods in Zambia on the precautionary principle," Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana said.

"The country should thus refrain from actions that might adversely affect human and animal health as well as harm the environment," he said.

The BBC's reporter in Lusaka, Penny Dale, says the government's controversial decision has sparked a huge political row in Zambia, with the opposition claiming people will die as a result.

Needs

World Food Programme Spokesman Richard Lee told the BBC that it would now be very difficult to meet the needs of the Zambian people.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
Mwanawasa: There's no justification for feeding people 'poison'
He said his organisation was already only able to feed half of the people in need, and would have to work hard to find non-GM food.

The government would now ask the WFP to withdraw thousands of tonnes of US-donated grain that are in the country, Mr Sikatana said.

The US has supplied most food aid for the WFP's appeal for Southern Africa, where about 14 million people risk starvation.

Zambia needs 21,000 tonnes of food aid a month to feed more than 2.5 million people in the drought-hit south of the country.

Concern

Many Southern African nations have expressed deep concerns that GM food aid could be used to grow new crops and so enter the local food chain.

This could jeopardise exports to Europe, where GM food is less common than in the United States.

Several countries affected by the crisis have refused to accept unmilled GM maize but have agreed to accept ground meal.

US officials deny that there is any risk involved with GM food and point out that it is eaten every day by millions of Americans.


Key stories

Horn of Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa

Ways to help

CLICKABLE MAP

IN DEPTH

TALKING POINT
See also:

08 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Sep 02 | Africa
06 Sep 02 | Africa
11 Sep 02 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes