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Zambians reject genetically engineered corn

(Aug. 19, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Citing possible negative environmental and health effects, the Zambian government has rejected the U.S. offer to donate 23,500 tons of genetically modified corn to alleviate severe hunger in the southern African country.

Also important to Zambian leaders is the foreign trade importance of corn. They've expressed concern that the unmilled kernels would be planted, which could lead to contamination of the corn that the country sells to the European Union. The Europeans have adopted a strict policy of not accepting corn or other food that contains genetically modified organisms.

The government has purchased 300,000 metric tons of non-GM maize from South Africa with a further 100,000 - 200,000 to follow, said Patrick Killeen, an organic farmer and manager of the organic vegetable sales unit of Agriflora.

"I don't think the US government expected this rejection, when it opportunistically attempted to off-load the contaminated crops here as a result of the hunger in the south of the country," Killeen said. "Zambia is deciding to wait and use the precautionary principle, rarther than the substnsial equivalance (don't look, don't see) approach of the US government agencies."

Source: AP