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US exploits famine to push GM 'foods'

US tells african countries : 'beggars cant be choosers'
Ottawa - Using famine in Africa as a tool to push acceptance of American policy on genetically-modified (GM) foods is reprehensible and ought to be stopped immediately, says James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees.

"It is unconscionable that the U.S. administration would use the threat of mass starvation as means to promote products that potentially carry a wide range of health and environmental risks," Clancy said.

Under the guise of helping millions of starving people the offer of food aid is part of a 10-year campaign intended to introduce U.S.-developed GM crops into Africa. The report also suggests that the U.S. program involves a huge covert subsidy to U.S. GM farmers through the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.

The countries of Southern Africa are in the midst of a crisis so devastating that many in the U.N. have described it as an 'AIDS famine'. Senior U.N. officials recently reported that as many as 14 million people in the region are at risk of starvation.

The U.S. has the ability to supply non-GM food but has declined to do so even though several African governments, including Zambia, have made repeated requests. USAID has dismissed their concerns as ideological or, as an unnamed US state department said recently, "beggars can't be choosers."

"This debate shouldn't be focused on the false choice of eating GM or starving," says Greenpeace Executive Director Stephen Tindale.

"Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of non-GM grain are available, both in America and elsewhere, and it should be sent to where it's needed most. Instead the Bush Administration is exploiting famine in Africa in an effort to support the American biotech industry. This is the just latest twist in a long and cynical marketing campaign."

James Clancy condemned the U.S. for its cynical and self-serving approach.

"The African continent has been robbed and pillaged for centuries through the slave trade and the colonization. Structural adjustment programs devastated and privatized the health and social programs these countries have had. This, in turn, lead to even greater poverty, exacerbating the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis and setting the stage for a horrifying famine to sweep the region.

"Yet all some folks in the U.S. government and business communities can think of is how to make even more money off their suffering," Clancy said.

"I want to thank Greenpeace for bringing this information to light. I also want to call on everyone to get involved to end this deplorable state of affairs."



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