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Cablegate: Biotech Still Under Fire in Zimbabwe

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

UNCLAS HARARE 001963

SIPDIS

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

EB FOR U/S LARSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO KMDR ZI
SUBJECT: BIOTECH STILL UNDER FIRE IN ZIMBABWE


1. Under headline "Distinguishing drought from
famine" an op-ed by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem carried in
the August 27 edition of the independent daily "The
Daily News," accuses the United States of "cynically
exploiting the plight of the starving to create an
artificial market for its genetically modified foods."
Excerpts:

2. "There is famine in a number of southern African
countries with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Angola
more affected than the rest. Whatever the reasons for
the famine, people are suffering and they need help.
But should this be help at all cost and by whatever
means? I do not think so. The U.S. Government has
been quick to offer help in the form of genetically
modified (GM) maize. Zimbabwe rejected it initially
and Angola expressed its concern and only last week
Zambia also rejected it. On the surface it looks like
these governments are behaving as though beggars can
choose. With Zimbabwe the demonization of President
Mugabe internationally made him `the usual suspect,'
but I do not think that everything the government of
Zimbabwe or Mugabe does is bad. There are legitimate
issues about GM foods which millions of people in the
USA and Europe are unwilling to eat. Why should
Africa be the dumping ground or the experimental
laboratory?

"Humanitarian agencies are claiming that GM
foods should be accepted because it is better
than nothing and because people are starving.
A very persuasive argument at the emotional
level, but it does not address the scientific
health concerns about GM foods. Also let us
change the context of the appeal. Imagine a
predominantly Muslim country is suffering
drought, could the people be persuaded to eat
pork on the grounds of this is what is
available? Or could Hindus be white-mailed
into eating beef even if it is the only food
available? GM foods are not the only available
food surplus in the world and even in Africa
itself. The USA is cynically exploiting the
plight of the starving to create an artificial
market for its GM foods and promote the
corporate sharks pushing this food of dubious
nutritional and health value."

3. Comment: Mr. Abdul-Raheem usually writes
more reasonable, better-informed opinion
pieces. PAO has responded to the fallacies in
this piece and has invited Mr. Abdul-Raheem to
discuss biotech and food security issues in
greater depth. We will also invite him to
attend the August 30 television interactive
program with U/S Larson. End comment.

SULLIVAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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