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Cablegate: Government Paper Takes Aim Against Biotech

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001611

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S, AF/RA
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT PAPER TAKES AIM AGAINST BIOTECH
FOOD DONATIONS


1. Under the headline "We say NO to GM food" the
editorial in the July 9 edition of the government-
controlled daily "Chronicle" offered a stunningly
uninformed diatribe against the supply of biotech food
to hungry Zimbabweans. Excerpts:

2. ".It.boggles the mind to imagine that there are
some among us who want us to throw caution to the wind
because we face a drought. Who want us to accept
everything that has `drought relief' written on it
when in fact it might contain a time bomb. In a
nutshell, the so-called private press is on a campaign
to have us believe that the government should accept
genetically modified maize or food from the U.S. to
`save lives.' Yet scientific evidence abounds that GM
foods disrupt the natural eco-system. They destroy
natural life cycles of plants and even other crops not
`resistant' or geared to the `genetics' of the GM
organisms. There is no doubt that Zimbabwe needs
every helping hand it can get in terms of food aid.
But that does not mean that because we have a disaster
or what the FAO describes as `serious food shortages'
we should accept food laced with poison. For the GM
maize being dumped on us by the U.S. is nothing but
poison. We cannot expose the entire nation to risk
what might result in perennial food shortages for the
sake of a mere 10,000 tons of maize that can only feed
the nation for just two days. Even were the U.S. to
offer us millions of tons of GM maize, the answer will
be and should still be an emphatic NO! .Scientific
evidence shows quite clearly that when Genetically
Modified Organisms were introduced in Europe and the
U.S., there were problems. Some experts even venture
to say that the lack of forests and wildlife in
Europe. is a direct result of GMO effects. We
therefore throw our full weight behind the government
in rejecting the slap in the face coming in the form
of `drought relief.' It is unfortunate that the
opposition press is supporting GM maize or food. Law
enforcement agents should be on the alert as people
with ulterior motives are bound to take advantage of
the drought by sneaking in all sorts of GM foodstuffs.
Any individuals or companies found with any form of GM
food must be severely punished. And any `relief' food
must be thoroughly tested and GM food must be burnt
without any qualms."

3. Comment: While the presumably willful ignorance
of biotech science was not surprising from this paper,
we were surprised that the editorial showed such
ignorance of Government of Zimbabwe's (GoZ) policy on
biotech food donations. The GoZ has raised no
objection to biotech food delivered in the form of
meal -- only whole-grain food has caused concern. We
have sent the editor a letter and collection of
reputable information about biotech crops and food,
but will rely on the GoZ to correct the editor's
misrepresentation of official policy on the imports of
biotech food. End comment.

SULLIVAN

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