Zambian-GM-genocide myth rides again
Apart from anything else it employs the Zambian-GM-genocide urban myth, according to which rejection of GM food aid by the Zambian government in 2002 resulted in starvation.
Nobody died in Zambia when it rejected GM food. Non-GM food, which was readily available in the region, was provided instead. The Zambian Red Cross is unequivocal about this, "We didn't record a single death arising out of hunger."
But that hasn't stopped this sustained campaign of black propaganda. Note also that the claim here that the Zambian government subsequently back tracked on its opposition to GM is equally false.
For more on this black propaganda campaign see 'Fake Blood on the Maize':
Genes as the solution
Financial Express , April 26 2008
In 2002, the Zambian government did something stupendously silly. It banned maize imports needed to feed its famine stricken population. Millions died as a result. The government shrugged and said the maize was "genetically modified" (GM) and therefore dangerous.
When famine returned in 2005, the government was forced to lift the ban. By now, however, Europe had hardened its position on GM food. Europe, being sparsely populated, can insist on every GM based food product being labelled accordingly, and can afford to wait and watch. The priorities of the Zambian population, though, are quite clear. If it nourishes, it is food. In fact, as a global food crisis unfolds, it is a good time to wonder how many years we have needlessly lost on a potential solution. As circumstances have it, most research in the area has been led by the private sector. The 1960s Green Revolution was led by government agencies, which often transferred the seeds and technology to the third world, apparently free, getting only goodwill in return. But recipient countries such as India that has set up chains of agricultural institutes, managed to lull themselves into a belief that they had licked the food scarcity.
By the time GM crops entered the market in the mid-1990s, it was clear that the food scarcity problem was not quite over, even if Malthusian starvation nightmares had been dismissed. Yet, it took people long to be thankful to private food Companies that had stepped into the void created by decades of neglect of agricultural research by government agencies. Expecting biotech Companies to give out the results of their research for free is unrealistic, unless the world community pitches in””a la India's telecom fund for rural connectivity. But the world should be glad that advanced scientific work on pest-resistant and high-yield crops has actually been done. In 2006-07, more than 32,000 sq km of GM cotton was harvested amid protests. That's plenty, but compared with the potential, the area is a mere speck. In food, the gains could be enormous just in terms of the crops' ability to survive pest attacks, water shortages and harsh conditions. This is not "Frankenfood", a grossly misleading image crafted by GM food opponents. It is modern technology. As with nuclear power, that it evokes fear and mistrust is not a reasonable guide to public policy.