GMO food aid: Helping the hungry or destroying livelihoods?
Rome, June 13, 2002- Industrial Nations and Biotech Companies show their technology is out of control: Developing World alarmed at deliberate programme of GMO contamination.
Six years after the 1996 World Food Summit, Friends of the Earth deeply regrets that once again world agriculture and food policies are not addressing the real causes of hunger and instead remain locked in mythical policy solutions that have no chance of ever bringing benefits to the world’s hungry. A clear example of a mythical solution to world hunger problems is biotechnology which while widely discredited as a genuine solution to hunger, nonetheless has been the focus of a powerful lobby campaign by the biotechnology industry and the US Administration in the run up to the Rome Summit.
The widespread condemnation during this week’s Summit of the discovery that food donated by USAID comprised of GM corn StarLink not authorised for human consumption anywhere in the world reflects the complete lack of control that biotech companies have over their products. Friends of the Earth US has requested the US Administration to recall the StarLink corn and to require Aventis to pay for costs incurred by recalls and replacements (see www.foe.org/foodaid).
According to Juan Lopez of Friends of the Earth International, “The promises of the biotech companies are broken each time one of these contamination incidents happens. FAO should think twice before jumping into bed with biotechnology.”
Additionally, as illustrated by GMO contamination results recently reported from Mexico, the distribution of whole seed intended for consumption leads to planting in centres of origin, threatening local agricultural diversity. Further, corn seed sent as food aid to Guatemala has been confirmed to contain GMOs not authorised in the European Union. In Nicaragua the presence of GMOs was also confirmed in corn seed sent as food aid from Germany.
“The fact that Germany is financing aid comprising of corn seed contaminated with GMOs and has sent it to a centre of origin of corn such as Nicaragua is further proof of the irresponsible management of this technology” said Julio Sanchez from Centro Humboldt-Friends of the Earth Nicaragua.
Other discoveries of genetic contamination in food aid have also occurred in several Latin American countries in the last months. “Food Aid programmes when used systematically in impoverished countries serve as instruments for the dumping of production surpluses from Northern countries, creating dependency and contributing to the destruction of local production,” says Ana Lucia Bravo Acción Ecológica – Friends of the Earth Ecuador. Friends of the Earth Latin America is requesting the Governments in the Summit, the FAO and the WFP to forbid GMOs in food aid programmes in accordance with the precautionary principle. “Our livelihood is our future.”
Increasing numbers of organization have been expressing concern about the promotion of biotechnology as a solution for developing countries. International development organization Oxfam International recently announced a moratorium on GMOs and the need for improved enforcement of monitoring systems to stop GMOs from entering countries in consignments of food aid.
Contact Friends of the Earth at the World Food Summit:
Juan Lopez – mobile telephone number: 00 39 339 74 49 630