Tuesday, January 18

In Zambia, GM Doesn't Mean "General Mills"

Despite famine, drought, and international pressure (mainly from the US), Zambia has refused to import genetically-modified (GM) foods. President Mwanwasa even called GM foods "poison." Zambia has shied away from GM foods for 2 reasons:
  1. GM foods are dangerous. Depending on who ask, this charge is spurious. (Europeans are likely to agree; Americans -- who have been eating GM foods for years -- are likely to disagree.)
  2. GM foods may contaminate non-GM foods. The argument goes like this: If a Zambian farmer plants a GM seed, it's possible this plant might pollinate a non-GM plant. Since the EU refuses to purchase GM foods, Zambia might lose the ability to sell its crops to the EU. And since a large chunk of Zambia's export earnings are the result of EU purchases -- estimated at $62.6 million in 1999-2000 -- then the Zambian economy could head south. (As Dennis says, follow the money-trail.)
In the event of another serious drought, Zambia's refusal to import GM-foods might result in a humanitarian disaster.