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Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
US 'dumped' GM food in Orissa
Orissa family
The Orissa cylcone left thousands hungry
By Mike Wooldridge in Delhi

A prominent environmental activist in India has accused the United States Government of dumping genetically-engineered food on victims of last October's cyclone in Orissa.

Dr Vandana Shiva, who heads an organisation called the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, said samples of US food aid had been found to be genetically engineered.
Orissa: After the storm

The US has supplied several million dollars' worth of food aid for the survivors of the Orissa cyclone - one of the most powerful to hit India for a century.

It included corn-soya mix, samples of which were sent by Dr Shiva's organisation to a US laboratory, which found evidence of genetically-engineered content.

Dr Shiva said at a news conference in Delhi that that was proof that the US had been using the Orissa cyclone victims as guinea pigs for genetically-engineered products which had been rejected by consumers elsewhere, especially in Europe.

She said that the US wanted to create profit and markets for its biotech industry, and called on the Indian Government to stop the distribution of the corn-soya.

Standards

American officials here say the GM content of corn and soya in the US is such that it is likely that the food-aid supply to Orissa would be genetically engineered, but they say this would not be in breach of any Indian or international regulations and meets American safety standards.

They maintain that if its distribution were stopped, a lot of poor people would be harmed.

They also say India has imported American soya oil which would probably have genetically-engineered content too.

It remains to be seen whether Dr Shiva's protest will reignite debate in India on GM foods and crops.

There are no commercially-produced GM agricultural products in the country as yet, but there have been trials of a genetically-modified cotton crop and activists have uprooted and burnt some of the crops involved.

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See also:

31 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
GM giant criticised over adverts
17 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Deal signed on 'Golden Rice'
22 Feb 00 | South Asia
Oxfam attacks Indian disaster policy
23 Nov 99 | South Asia
Emergency relief ends in Orissa
12 Nov 99 | South Asia
Funds pledged as Orissa toll climbs
07 Nov 99 | South Asia
Disease grips cyclone state
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