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Preface Annex 1
GM FOOD AID
Drought, inadequate water resources and poor soils, along with other economic and social pressures, have made food shortages a problem in many parts of Africa.
From 2002, GM crops have been offered as food aid. In Southern Africa, several countries have expressed concern about the use of GM crops as food aid, given the lack of clarity about their potential impacts. During the drought of 2002-03, several countries opted to reject GM food aid. In making their decisions, countries considered not only the immediate issue of food shortages and the overall implications of GM crops for human and environmental health, but also future directions in agriculture, the implications of private sector-led research, livelihood and development options, ethical issues and rights concerns (Mohamed- Katerere 2003). Similarly, public concerns are raised about the relationship between GM crops and sustainable agriculture. Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM-Tanzania, PELUM-Kenya, and PELUM-Zimbabwe), Biowatch South Africa, and national consumer councils have all been key players.
Some approaches to GM food aid are identified in Box 4. Mozambique raised concerns about accepting GM maize aid on biosafety and human health grounds and opted to ban its import. Zambia refused to accept GM food aid in any form; Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique refused to accept GM food aid unless it was milled, this being seen as a precaution to avoid any germination of whole grains and to limit impacts on biodiversity; Lesotho and Swaziland authorized the distribution of non-milled GM food, but not before it warned the public that the grain should be used strictly for consumption and not for cultivation; and in 2004, Angola and Sudan introduced restrictions on GM food aid.
Global anti-GM food campaigns have influenced public attitudes to GM foods in Africa. Consumers International (CI), a worldwide federation of consumer organizations with 38 member organizations in about 22 African countries, has played an important role in shaping the debates around GM foods. It advocates a legal regime in which all GM foods are subject to rigorous, independent safety testing, labelling and traceability requirements, and in which producers are held liable for the environmental or health damage which their products may cause (CI 2005). There is growing acceptance of this approach globally.