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African nations oppose GM crops, seek biosafety protocol

(Monday, Sept. 8, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- The Hindu, 09/06/03 via Agnet: New Delhi-- Ethiopia Environmental Protection Authority Director General, Dr Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, one of the architects of the Biosafety Protocol, was cited as saying in a statement that the United States' challenge to the European Union in WTO courts over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) presents a threat to African and developing countries' food soverignty and the Biosafety Protocol, adding, "US actions are intended to send a strong and aggressive message to us - that we should choose to implement the Protocol and reject the import of GM foods."

The Protocol is scheduled to come into effect on September 11, coinciding with the fifth WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The US-EU debate on GM is expected to be high on the agenda during the Cancun Ministerial.

Part of the US argument for forcing the EU to accept GM without labelling restrictions, is that the EU rejection creates hunger in the developing world.

However, developing countries, particularly African countries, would not accept GM imports without the approval of their regulatory systems due to safety considerations, Dr Egziabher said.