US slammed for "grotesque misrepresentation" of Africa's needs
Meacher slams US for "grotesque misrepresentation"
12 September 2003
The Gaia Foundation
[Former UK Environment Minister] Michael Meacher has accused the United States of "grotesque misrepresentation" in its portrayal of Africa as wanting GM foods.
He condemned the US pressure on Europe to accept GM through accusations of causing hunger in Africa.
His remarks were confirmed by a spokesperson for Africa, Dr Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher. The idea that Africa would accept GM food if Europe did is "rubbish," said Dr Tewolde.
America is taking the EU to the World Trade Organisation, saying that the EU's labelling restrictions on GM form an illegal trade barrier, and contribute to hunger by discouraging Africans from importing and growing GM. The issue will probably be a major topic of debate at the WTO Ministerial in Cancun this week.
But Dr Tewolde points out that Africa led negotiations in the Biosafety Protocol, which permits countries to reject GM if they deem it risky. They would not have done so if they wanted unregulated GM foods. "Hunger in Africa is caused by problems of storage, distribution and economic factors", said Dr Tewolde, "GM cannot address this."
US actions are seen as a message to Africa not to reject GM foods or face WTO reprisals.
The two men were speaking at a parliamentary meeting to mark the entry into force of the Biosafety Protocol.
1. The Biosafety Protocol entered into force on the 11th September 2003
2. Dr Tewolde was the chief negotiator for Africa for the Biosafety Protocol.
3. Mr Meacher was a UK negotiator for the Biosafety Protocol.
4. Dr Tewolde is in London until Friday 12th September 2003. To contact him please call the Gaia Foundation.
5. For copies of Dr Tewolde1s statement 'America's Pre-Emptive Strike on the Biosafety Protocol' 4th September 2003 and 'A Brief Overview ofthe Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety' 11 September 2003, please contact the Gaia Foundation (020) 7435 5000
Gaia Foundation (020) 7435 5000