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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 18:01 GMT
Angola moves to ban GM products
By Zoe Eisenstein
In Luanda

Children in Angola
Millions live in poverty in Angola
Angola's agriculture minister has said genetically-modified foods should be banned from the country as their impact on human and animal health is unknown.

Gilberto Lutucuta said more effort must be made to check if products entering Angola were genetically modified.

He added that the Angolan government should train more personnel to perform the checks.

But a World Food Programme official said it was not clear if the decision had already been put into practice.

The officials said it was not clear whether the organisation - which feeds close to two million Angolans each month - would be given some time to adapt to the decision.

Impact on vulnerable

He added that, although he had been aware for some time that government had been discussing the issue, the WFP had never been officially informed about the details of any plan to ban GM foods entering the country.

Generic crops
African resistance to GM food seems to be gaining strength
But he stressed that the WFP's official policy would see it respect any decision taken by government regarding GM food importation.

However, in a country still emerging from a civil conflict and where many people are hungry, any action slowing down or squeezing the food pipeline could have a direct impact on those most vulnerable.

One foreign aid worker told the BBC it was not clear if the ban included food donations as well as commercial imports.

The source said that a total ban on GM foods could complicate the food chain coming from the United States - the WFP's largest food donor - as the US does not differentiate between GM and non-GM foods.

But, the source said the ban would not affect cash donations made by other donors because the WFP could buy GM-free food with the money.

Other African countries have stood their ground on GM foods.

With Angola - a potential food basket in the region - also joining hands on the issue, it looks likely that the resistance to the importation of GM foods will gain strength.

Bush: Africa hostage to GM fears
22 May 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Angola
04 Oct 03  |  Country profiles

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