5 September 2002

Zimbabwe drops objections to GM crops?

Zimbabwe has dropped its objections to genetically modified (GM) crops in a step which should encourage other countries in the region to accept badly needed food aid, the World Food Programme (WFP) said today. "We made great progress today on the GMO issue," said James Morris, the WFP Executive Director, after a meeting with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. "What he (Mugabe) did today will be a very important signal in the region. The fact that they have now concluded that they are comfortable in accepting GMO crops or commodities will be an important signal to other countries in the region." "It will enable us to do our job," he said. Morris is also Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general's, special envoy for the humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa, where aid workers say up to 13 million people face famine. Like several other countries in the region, Zimbabwe has expressed opposition to feeding its people with maize from the United States, which cannot certify its food donations as GM-free. Until now, the government has only said it may allow aid workers to distribute ground maize, which allays fears that GM grain may be planted locally. However, Zimbabwe government officials were not immediately available for comment. (ZWNews / SABC News)

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