Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bush plan for aid to relieve world food crisis includes promotion of genetically modified crops

The Bush administration's plan to relieve the world food crisis includes "language that would promote the use of genetically modified crops in food-deprived countries," an idea that is "intensely disputed," Stephen Hedges of the Chicago Tribune reported this week. "Opponents of GMO crops say they can cause unforeseen medical problems. They also contend that the administration's plan is aimed at helping American agribusinesses."

Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute endorsed the idea, saying because genetically modified crops are "showing quite a bit of potential in starting to address some of the long-term stresses, drought and heat." But Noah Zerbe, an assistant professor of government and politics at California's Humboldt State University, said many such crops require "fertilizer and water at the right times, and herbicides to go along with that," and "most African farmers . . . can't afford these inputs."

When the U.S. tried to introduce genetically modified crops to Africa in 2002, several African nations refused, partly because of opposition from the European Union. "In a severe drought, Zambia rejected the U.S. aid altogether," Hedges reported. "Several other countries accepted the U.S. corn, but only after it was milled." (Read more)

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