June 25, 2003
Text of editorial headlined "One battle Bush won't win" by Kenyan newspaper
Daily Nation web site on 25 June
As he prepares to make his trip to Africa next month, - a trip pushed back form the beginning of the year after the invasion of Iraq took priority - US President George Bush is expected to come bearing an armful of goodies.
Americans say that one does not examine a gift horse too closely in the mouth. But whatever financial and food aid pledges and trade packages President Bush brings, he should expect a few queries as to motive. In the last few months, for instance, President Bush has turned to vigorous criticism of European countries he accuses of erecting road blocks to the war against hunger in Africa.
His beef is that European Union restrictions against the use of genetically modified foodstuffs directly affects the provision of food to hungry Africa.
Mr Bush does not sound at all like a philanthropist keen to deliver starving Africans from their misery; he sounds like a smooth-tongued salesman for American biotech.
It is no secret that having invested billions of dollars in research, giant US food and biotechnology companies are increasingly frustrated that their products are not bringing in the projected financial returns.
The rest of the world markets - including Africa and Asia - have generally adopted the position that what is not deemed unsafe for the Europeans palate cannot be safe for them. So, even when in urgent need of food aid, they have politely rejected what the US offers.
The US administration has already provided budgetary provision for a multi-million dollar famine fund targeting African countries. The food would, of course, be purchased exclusively from US corporations that do need to recoup their investments.
The assumption seems to be that if those who can afford it, the Europeans and Asians, and Americans too, are rejecting bio-engineered food, hungry Africans would welcome it with open mouths.
President Bush might be surprised to find that when it comes to such food, Africans do look a gift horse in the mouth!
Source: Daily Nation web site, Nairobi, in English 25 Jun 03