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3-Food: Sudanese government reviewing policy on GM food imports

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TITLE:  Government reviewing policy on GM food imports
DATE:   June 17, 2003

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SUDAN: Government reviewing policy on GM food imports

NAIROBI, 17 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - The Sudanese government has guaranteed the
World Food Programme (WFP) that all food deliveries will be permitted to enter
the country for the next six months, while it conducts a review of its policy
on genetically modified (GM) foods.

"The government informed us verbally that it will review its policy on GM
foods over the next three months," a spokesman for WFP, Robin Lodge, told IRIN
on Tuesday.

A number of food shipments held up in Port Sudan for over a week due to
concerns about GM food were released by Sudanese authorities on Saturday. 

WFP, which sources and delivers most of Sudan's food aid, received a letter
from the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization (a government body) in
May outlining a ban on imports of GM food. The new regulations stated that a
GM-free certificate would be required for food commodities, including
grains, pulses and blended foods, entering the country.

WFP did not test the food it distributed for its GM content, Lodge said, as
there were neither international guidelines calling for such action, nor
international agreements on tolerance levels of such foods. "We can't say whether
we're giving out GM food or not."

However, he said, in a case where a country objected to receiving deliveries
of GM food, WFP would guarantee not to supply it. "If we get a directive to
stop all deliveries, including airdrops, we can't go ahead with them without
their [the authorities] say so."

"WFP has never pressed any recipient government to accept GM food," he

While the food shipments arriving in Port Sudan - which were donated mainly
from the US - were being held up, WFP had continued to deliver to other areas
in Sudan, he said.

Muhammad Dirdeiry, the charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in the
Kenyan capital, Nairobi, told IRIN that requests to bring in GM foods to Sudan
were being studied. "One idea that we are mooting is to see whether it's
possible for the African Union to take a decision [on this issue], which would be
an African decision, adopted by all of the African countries."

"We will not take a unitary decision," he said. "We are going along with the
African consensus on this matter."


 Hartmut Meyer       
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