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DEADLINE: Monday 26th August

Statement of Solidarity with Southern African Nations Over GM Food and Crops

Delegates to the World Summit on Sustainable Development,

We the undersigned, as representatives or advocates of the people of the Global South, hereby declare our condemnation of the coercive techniques being used by the United States of America to force the nations and people of the South to accept genetically modified food in food aid shipments.

We condemn the United States' use of Food Aid as a tool of propaganda to force acceptance of GM food and crops by Southern nations on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Peasant farmers and indigenous peoples in many Southern nations are opposing GM crops and condemning GM contamination of their land whilst the recipients of food aid are protesting the dumping of GM food that have not undergone independent safety testing.

We decry the bio-imperialism of dumping food aid in Africa, the endangerment of food sovereignty and security and the deviation from principles of self-determination*. It further subsidizes the US farm system, provides a handy market for dumping grain not wanted elsewhere and is a thinly disguised attempt to pollute the sub continent's grain stocks with patented genetically modified varieties.

We support the governments of Zambia and Mozambique for protesting about the inclusion of genetically modified shipments of maize in food aid. The United States' Department of State is clearly using emergency food aid shipments for starving people in southern Africa as a political tool to force acceptance of genetically modified foods. This exploitative policy makes it clear that the United States is not interested in staving off famine. The United States is forcing the people of southern African nations to accept genetically modified food aid or risk widespread starvation, and has been unwilling to listen to the legitimate concerns.

Genetically modified crops, such as GM coffee and Bt cotton - and the corporations that market them - will only exacerbate rural unemployment and social and economic inequalities, and spur further environmental degradation.

We encourage governments and people around the world to initiate a boycott of genetically modified food products from the United States to demonstrate support not only for southern African nations who are being used as political pawns in a dire situation, but to show support for all the countries of the world that have been threatened with trade sanctions by the United States for regulating or labeling genetically modified foods.

Finally, we urge governments of the world to reject the inclusion of any language in the WSSD declaration that presumes genetically modified foods will be a solution to world hunger.

* NEPAD, the New Economic Program for African Development states in one of its objectives that "They (developed countries) have set up increasingly hostile operational mechanisms in the world economy, thus contributing to Africa's further exclusion."

Neil Sorensen
Program Associate for International Programs
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404 USA
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