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Faith, justice groups denounce imposition of GM food aid on Africa

(Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2002 -- CropChoice news)-- Africa Faith & Justice Network Press Release, http://www.afjn@afjn.org: The Africa Faith & Justice Network, a USA-based NGO comprised of Catholic religious and social justice groups, denounced USA policies of imposing genetically modified (GM) food aid on southern African countries facing severe drought and famine. Dr. Lawrence J. Goodwin, representing AFJN at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, stated, "This tactic blatantly benefits agri-business, not poor and hungry people." Echoing the analysis of many NGOs at the summit, he said, "The USA could have paid to mill the American maize, as southern African governments requested, or purchased organic grain to send to the drought-stricken region, instead of insisting on shipping GM whole grain knowing that local farmers would plant it."

Goodwin, who worked in Africa for 10-years, expressed dismay at USA moves to use the desperate situation in southern Africa for its own market advantage. "Africans have consistently rejected GM grain. Now pollen from the genetically altered maize will contaminate local varieties, which USA companies expect will ultimately make local farmers dependent on corporate seeds and herbicides," he said. "Corporations can claim patent rights over farmers' crops that have been polluted by the GM plants, which will only lead to African smallholder farmers losing control of their seeds, crops, and perhaps of their land itself." By planting GM seeds, African countries will also lose access to their primary export market, Europe, causing long-term devastation to their struggling economies.

AFJN has worked for 20-years on economic justice for Africa and spent the last 2-years urging the USA Government to support African farmer and community rights. In November 2001 it was instrumental in the introduction of a House of Representatives resolution upholding African community prerogatives to access, save, use and breed seeds and crops as opposed to corporate actions to own and control them.

"The USA wants to see its corporations control life's most basic resources, including seeds, food crops and water," Goodwin said. "Unfortunately for southern Africa, the drought plays right into this unprincipled strategy." E-mail afjn@afjn.org Website http://afjn.cua.edu