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3-Food: No evidence that GM will help solve world hunger

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TITLE:  No evidence that GM will help solve world hunger
SOURCE: ActionAid, UK
DATE:   May 28, 2003

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No evidence that GM will help solve world hunger

GM crops will not feed the world and could pose a considerable threat to
poor farmers, warns a new report launched today by ActionAid. GM Crops -
Going Against the Grain examines biotech companies' claims that
genetically modified (GM) crops can tackle world hunger. The report is
being submitted to the Government in advance of the UK public debate
starting on 3 June.

GM Crops - Going Against the Grain reveals that at best GM crops are
irrelevant to poor farmers, at worst they threaten to push them deeper
into debt, making them more reliant on expensive seeds and chemicals and
unable to save seed from one harvest to the next.

"The UK public should not be duped into accepting GM in the name of
developing countries. GM does not provide a magic bullet solution to
world hunger. What poor people really need is access to land, water,
better roads to get their crops to market, education and credit schemes,"
said Matthew Lockwood, ActionAid's Head of Policy.

Using evidence from ActionAid campaigns in Asia, Africa and Latin
America, the report takes a balanced look at the impact of GM crops in
developing countries. It concludes that rather than alleviating world
hunger, the new technology is likely to exacerbate food insecurity,
leading to more hungry people not less.

Why GM will not feed the world:

- GM seeds are far more suited to the needs of large-scale commercial
farmers rather than poor farmers.

- GM expansion is driven by corporate profit not the needs of poor
people. Four multinationals - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and
DuPont - control most of the GM seed market. By linking their chemicals
to seeds via GM technologies, these corporations have extended markets
for their herbicides and pesticides.

- Farmers are not allowed to trade or save GM seed from one harvest to
the next. 'Terminator technology' is also being developed that produces
sterile seeds.

- There is no consistent evidence GM crops yield more and require fewer
chemicals. In one study, Monsanto's GM soya had 6% lower yields than non-
GM soya and 11% less than high-yielding non-GM soya.

- Insecticide use on GM cotton has fallen in some locations, but these
gains may be short-lived. Chemical use on herbicide-resistant GM crops
has sometimes gone up rather than down.

In Pakistan, ActionAid has investigated how poor farmers have been
enticed by the hype surrounding GM to buy expensive 'miracle' cotton
seeds. The results have been disappointing, with many farmers losing most
of their crops and facing ruin.

The report recommends that there should be no further commercialisation
of GM crops until more research has been carried out on their impacts,
especially in poor countries. Also, poor countries and their farmers must
have the right to open public debates before they decide whether to go
ahead with GM crops.

Key GM statistics:

- In 2002 GM crops covered 58 million hectares worldwide - an area two
and a half times the size of the UK.

- Only 1% of GM research is aimed at crops used by poor farmers.

- The US biotech industry spends $250 million a year promoting GM.

- A small range of useful looking GM crops aimed at the poor are being
researched but they stand only a 1 in 250 chance of making it into
farmers fields.

- The four corporations that control most of the GM seed market had a
combined turnover from agrochemicals and seeds of $21.6 billion in 2001.

- 91% of all GM crops grown worldwide in 2001 were from Monsanto seeds.

"We know there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone.
What is causing world hunger is poverty and inequality. Money would be
far better spent tackling these problems than poured into GM technology,"
said Adriano Campolina Soares from ActionAid Brazil.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

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