Food security in the Commonwealth
GeneEthics Media Release, 27 October 2011
Perth, Western Australia
*The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starts in Perth, Australia.
"Millions of people living in the 54 Commonwealth member states face imminent and severe threats to food security and sovereignty. Despite this, many Commonwealth member states have rejected or restricted genetically manipulated (GM) food aid," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps and the GM-Free Australia Alliance.
Last week, twenty Asian, African and Latin American development NGOs released a report finding that GM has failed to increase crop yields, has increased food insecurity and led to greater reliance on agro-chemicals. Oxfam recently declared that their global GROW campaign for food security found no support for GM organisms as a solution to global hunger because they: "do not deliver against the guiding principles of participation, transparency, choice, sustainability and fairness."
The debate about GM food aid is back in the spotlight after the Kenyan Government sacked the head of its National Biosafety Authority for advancing imports of GM food following protests in the streets of Nairobi.
The majority of the Commonwealth remains GM-free as GM crops were grown on just 7.6% of global arable land in 2010, with 45% of that acreage grown in the USA alone. The top three GM-growing countries, Brazil, Argentina and the USA account for almost 80% of all GM crops worldwide. Cropping systems in 165 countries and 60 dependent territories remain completely GM-free.
In 2002, Zambia rejected all GM food aid and became a leading opponent of GM foods. Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and Sudan also placed restrictions on GM food aid to protect public health, environment and markets.
A US State Department official showed its official contempt with the comment: "Beggars can't be choosers" while Ethiopia's Tewolde Egziabher, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, asked "Why shouldn't we be wary of this technology and its possible long-term health impacts, if the EU [European Union] is. If it is not good for them, why should it be good for us?"
Janet Grogan, of Just Food WA and the GM-Free Australia Alliance, says "GM crops do nothing to solve the problem of hunger. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth must address the need for public investment in food systems that are sustainable – economically, ecologically and socially."
Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 or 0449 769 066
Janet Grogan 0420 820 713
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 18 October 2011
BBC, 1 July 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13991466