Protesters Lambast FAO Over GMO Stand (23/6/2004)

Good to see item 1 on the FAO in the Ugandan press at a time the African press is being inundated with material pumped out by the US Dept of State. What also deserves consideration is the publication of the FAO's report so close to the US's big expo on GM crops in Africa. There's an unpleasant hint of collusion in the air.

The second item comes from Kenya which like South Africa has been developed as a biotech industry gateway to the rest of the continent. Kenya has been targeted consistently by the biotech corporations and USAID since the days of the corrupt Moi adminstration. Like South Africa, Kenya has also become a centre for aggresive lobbying, aimed not only at influencing other countries in Africa but at generating positive PR for the global stage.

1.Protesters Lambast FAO Over GMO Stand
2.Bid to Boost Food Security

1.Protesters Lambast FAO Over GMO Stand
New Vision (Kampala)
June 23, 2004
Patrick Luganda

HUNDREDS of organisations worldwide have united in protest against the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in connection with the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The protesters are up in arms against FAO for its support of GMOS and biotechnology in general. They claim that FAO has declared war on farmers instead of hunger.

In an open protest letter signed by 670 organisations, 816 individuals and addressed to the FAO director general Dr. Jacques Diouf, the organisations express outrage and complete disagreement with a May report titled 'Agricultural Biotechnology: Meeting the Needs of the Poor', written by FAO and signed by Diouf.

A sole Ugandan, Peter Kanyandago of Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, is among the 816 individuals who signed is support.

They also accuse FAO of failing to mention that genetic engineering is dominated by corporations. "It overlooks the fact that one company - Monsanto-owns the GM seed technology sown over 90% of the total world area sown to transgenics. We wish to express our outrage and disagreement with the FAO report.

"This report has been used in a politically motivated public relations exercise to support the biotechnology industry. It promotes the genetic engineering of seeds and further skewing of research funding towards technology and way from ecologically sound methods used by farmers," say the protesters. Diuof, in reaction to the accusations, widely circulated through Civil Societies Organisations and the Internet, says the protest seem to stem from misleading headlines in the media and a mistaken interpretation of the FAO report.

"Foods derived from GM crops currently being grown have been evaluated according to existing procedures for risk assessment and have been deemed to be safe to eat. However, the absence of evidence of harm to human health from the consumption of foods derived from GMOs is not a guarantee that they are completely safe," reads Diuof's response.

The organisations accuse FAO of calling for the development of transgenic cassava, potato, cowpea, millet and teff, which are critical staple foods to millions of marginalised people.

"Rather than recommending the strengthening of the role of small holder farmers in the management of their agricultural biodiversity and improvement of vital crops this report proposes a technological fix of crops critical to the food security of marginalised people," they said.

They argue that issues of access and distribution are far more important than technology. The report highlights the benefits of biotechnology for the poor.

2.Bid to Boost Food Security
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
June 15, 2004

The Government is committed to support local scientists carry out research on genetically modified products to combat famine in the country.

The National Council for Science and Technology executive secretary, Prof George Kingoria, however, said the government would ensure that the GM products were strictly observed for a given period of time before being introduced to the market.

Kingoria said this, would ensure safety of the products before they are consumed.

He was speaking at the Kenya Methodist University during a two-day workshop on bio-technology organised for agricultural extension officers in Meru. Kingoria said there was need to discard the myth that GM foods were harmful to human beings. Adding there was no specific proof to justify the claim.

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