Magazine article New African

GM Food for Africa! It Does Not Take a Genius to Know That What Animals, Including Pests and Insects, Reject or Do Not Want to Eat Is Not Good for Human Consumption. (Guest Column)

Magazine article New African

GM Food for Africa! It Does Not Take a Genius to Know That What Animals, Including Pests and Insects, Reject or Do Not Want to Eat Is Not Good for Human Consumption. (Guest Column)

Article excerpt

It is shocking to earn from Rob Rose's article, "GM Food for Africa: Solution or Hazard?" (NA, July/August) that many African countries have already embraced the GM idea with enthusiasm, It is unbelievable that Monsanto has even now got an African director, Kinyua M'M-bijjewe, who is actively promoting the GM idea in Africa.

He is quoted as saying: "Crops that can protect themselves from harsh weather and pests can revolutionise African agriculture ... Over 23% of maize, a staple food for Africa, is destroyed each year by insects called stem borers. By adding a protein gene into the maize seed, the stem borers are repulsed and a huge saving is possible." Well, it does not take a genius to know that what animals, including pests and insects, reject (ie, cannot eat or do not want to eat) cannot be, and is not, good for human consumption.

It is against this background that the recent decision by Zimbabwe and Zambia to reject GM maize donated by the American government for famine relief must be applauded. In the same vein, they must also be condemned for giving in, later, to American pressure and accepting the same GM maize in ground form. What is the difference?

In early September, the World Food Programme announced that Zambia [after much cajoling, I should hasten to add] had given in to the distribution of GM maize to feed about 130,000 Angolan and congolese refugees in the country, but not the estimated 2.5 million Zambians affected by drought on the grounds that it is "poison". Incredible! So, the Angolan and congolese refugees are not human! Or are they?

No one has the right to feed people, not even famine-stricken people, with food that pests and insects reject or do not want to eat. America grows non-GM maize, and America can donate non-GM maize to the famine-stricken countries of Southern Africa if it genuinely wants to help them.

May I ask why multinational companies do not research into, or promote, natural methods of food production, ie, organic farming? The answer obviously is profit.

Organic farming is the natural system of enriching the land without chemical fertilisers, pesticides, weed killers, etc. This is done by using manure, mulching and land or soil management -- ie, letting the land lie fallow or rest for a period of time to avoid overgrazing or over-cultivation.

Food produced by organic methods has no ill effects on humans or animals, but provides untainted nourishment to the body. And nobody can control the method of organic farming. It cannot be kept or hidden in a far away building or in secret rooms. And it is not difficult to learn. It does not require any specialist machines or tools, It is openly practised by working with nature through natural laws.

So no organisation or person can make any profit from it. That is why the multinational companies are not interested in organic farming.

I can say that it was the introduction of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, etc, to Africa from the West, and the destruction of the forests and grasslands through uncontrolled logging of timber without intensive reforestation, that have caused the food shortages and diseases in Africa.

African countries are now saddled with debts, which as they stand now, can never be repaid to Western countries and their agents -- the IMF and World Bank.

For example, after World War II, America granted huge loans under the Marshall Plan to rebuild Germany and other European countries. The interest on those loans was around 3%. But how much interest do the Western countries and the IMF and World Bank charge for lending to Africa? From 25% to 44%.

If Africa paid only 3% interest as the Marshall Plan afforded the European countries, Africa would have long paid off its debts and become self-sufficient to develop its nations.

With the combination of the debt burden, the high interest repayments, uncontrolled depletion of the forests, and overgrazing resulting in droughts and destructive floods, there is bound to be famine and diseases in Africa. …

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