|March 30 2004
ANGOLA: Ban on GM food 'puts aid at risk'
Angola's move to ban genetically modified food will endanger United Nations distribution of emergency aid to nearly 2m people, the body's World Food Programme has warned. The government of the war-devastated southern African country earlier this month prohibited imports of unmilled GM foods and seeds.
The UN says the draft law will significantly hamper its operations there as the WFP sources 77 per cent of its food aid from the US, where GM is common. "It will make life a lot tougher for a large number of people," said Mike Sackett, the WFP's regional director for southern Africa. He said it was unclear whether Angola's government would allow into the country a shipment of 19,000 tonnes of American maize due to begin shipping this week.
The WFP has a caseload of 1.9m people in Angola, of whom 1.5m are displaced people returning home after the long civil war. "People who just moved back will be really struggling because they are particularly dependent on food aid," Mr Sackett said.
Angola's decision could also hurt the UN as it struggles to collect funds for its food appeals amid growing donor scepticism over some governments' actions. The WFP's feeding programme has received just $35m (¬28.8m, £19m) of the $219m it says it will need to feed Angolans in May to December.
Zambia and Zimbabwe, where the WFP also has hunger-relief programmes, have already passed similar laws banning GM foods, citing the need to protect their agriculture. Donors sidestepped the bans by switching to non-GM food or milling grains, but Angola's entire milling capacity is just 250 tonnes a day, Mr Sackett said. (ips / Financial Times, Johannesburg)