Contact: C.S. Prakash at 1-334-444-7884 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory Conko at 1-202-550-2974; email@example.com
Auburn, AL September 5, 2002-A group of scientists and agriculture experts
led by the AgBioWorld Foundation are applauding recent activist statements
supporting genetically-modified food aid from the United States, which
has been refused by some African leaders despite the risk of millions
dying from starvation. The group also challenged these and other activists
to act responsibly and stop spreading misinformation about foods grown
Greenpeace's Annette Cotter told the Wall Street Journal, "When
it comes to famine, telling anybody not to eat GM food in this situation
is a position we absolutely can't take." Juan Lopez of Friends of
the Earth said, "We're not saying no to GM foods in the middle of
the famine." Unfortunately, these messages conflict with other statements
by the same organizations and are not shared by their various allies.
Even though the rejection of food aid has been widely condemned, many
activist groups, including Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Vandana Shiva's
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy,
the Institute of Science in Society, and the Third World Network, continue
to oppose the shipments.
"It is refreshing to hear that some environmentalists are no longer
willing to sacrifice the lives of desperate people in order to further
their own agendas," said Dr. C.S. Prakash, Tuskegee University plant
genetics professor and president of the AgBioWorld Foundation. "But
it is tragic that many others are still unconcerned by the consequences
of their actions."
"The world is standing by as southern Africa may experience more
deaths every day than all those lost on September 11," said Professor
James Ochanda, chairman of the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum,
based in Nairobi, Kenya. "Providing cover to those who use famine
for political means and scaring starving millions into believing that
the same food eaten by well-fed and wealthier nations is unsafe is having
dire and inexcusable consequences."
Nor is this the first time activist groups opposed food aid shipments.
In June 2000, Greenpeace and Shiva's Research Foundation attempted to
block US food aid to victims of a cyclone in the Indian state of Orissa,
which left over 10,000 dead. "It is time for groups like Greenpeace
and Friends of the Earth to stop playing public relations games with people's
lives and publicly condemn these statements and activities," said
Patrick Moore of Greenspirit. Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who
now opposes the organization's tactics, added, "They should urge
their members and allies to stop compounding the impact of this and other
crises by politicizing life-saving food aid."
The AgBioWorld Foundation and numerous other organizations, including
the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum, AfricaBio, the Center for
Global Food Issues, GreenSpirit, and International Consumers for Civil
Society, have challenged activist organizations to formally endorse food
aid shipments and to not repeat the mistakes of 'Orissa.' A coalition
of African scientists also urged southern African countries to accept
donations of genetically modified food aid during the ongoing World Summit
on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The AgBioWorld Foundation (http://www.agbioworld.org) is a non-profit
organization based in Auburn, Alabama, that provides information to teachers,
journalists, policymakers and the general public about developments in
plant science, biotechnology and sustainable agriculture.