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TITLE:  GM FOOD: U.S. IS "PLAYING WITH HUNGER"
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth International
DATE:   May 23, 2003

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Dear all,

Since the WTO case initiated by the US against the EU GMO Moratorium, the
US is increasingly steeping up criticism over Europe position on GMOs.
The US Administration is blaming Europe for the African rejection of GM
Food aid last year. President Bush said yesterday that "European
Governments should join, not hinder the great cause of ending hunger in
Africa".

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) presents today a report titled
"Playing with Hunger", which gives a comprehensive view of the reality
behind the shipment of GMOs via food aid. FoEI criticizes also new
legislation passed in the US which would allow the US authorities to
apply pressure on African states to accept GM food aid before releasing
support for the AIDS/HIV and related illnesses alleviation programmes.

Sincerely,
Friends of the Earth International

*****

FRIEND OF THE EARTH INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

May 23rd

GM FOOD: U.S. IS "PLAYING WITH HUNGER"

U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID) AND WORLD FOOD
PROGRAMME (WFP) TOLD NOT TO FORCE GM FOOD AID ON UNWILLING RECIPIENTS

BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) / BENIN CITY (NIGERIA), MAY 23, 2003, - Food aid has
now become controversial on four continents because of U.S. Genetically
Modified (GM) food donations, according to a new report* released by
Friends of the Earth International today.

The U.S. Congress has passed legislation tying AIDS assistance to
acceptance of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). At the same time,
the U.S. has also filed a case at the World Trade Organization against
the European Union moratorium on GMOs.

In a letter and a new report* released today, Friends of the Earth
demanded that the U.S. stop using hunger as a political and marketing
tool to benefit big agri-business.

"The U.S. should stop playing with hunger. Having attempted to use
USAID's famine relief programme to dump unwanted GM maize in Southern
Africa they are now resorting to even more unacceptable methods. African
nations should have the right to decide what their people are fed. It is
immoral for the U.S. to exploit famine and the AIDS crisis in this way,"
said Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Environmental Rights Action /Friends of
the Earth-Nigeria

Controversy over genetically modified food aid arose in 2000 and grew
increasingly in 2002, when several Southern African countries refused GM
food aid during a food crisis. African countries were presented with a
situation where either they accepted GMOs or many people would die.
Several countries -- like Mozambique and Zimbabwe -- rejected GM corn due
to environmental concerns, but accepted milled GM corn.

Only Zambia decided to reject GM corn in both grain and milled forms,
citing health concerns. Several initial reports coming from Zambia
suggest that the country has so far been able to cope with the food
crisis without GM food aid.

The recently announced World Trade Organization (WTO) case filed by the
U.S. against the EU underscores a renewed controversy. The U.S. is again
blaming the EU moratorium on GMOs as being the cause of African rejection
of GM food aid.(i) However, the EU recently strongly rejected such
accusations. (ii)

There are also concerns that a U.S. AIDS spending legislation bill which
passed the US Senate May 15th and earlier passed the House includes a GMO
amendment which ties AIDS assistance to acceptance of GMOs. (iii)

Friends of the Earth International's report released today and entitled
"Playing with Hunger", presents a compilation of case studies related to
the shipment of GMOs in food aid to four continents since the year 2000.

It concludes that the controversy over GM food aid during the Southern
Africa crisis should have been anticipated by the U.N. World Food
Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID). Both agencies have been aware since 2000 of the
problems and controversies over food aid and GMOs, and should have
guaranteed real alternatives to GM food aid to the countries in need.

A letter urging the USAID and the WFP to take the necessary steps to
guarantee that in the future GMOs are not forced, via food aid, to any
country was sent today by Friends of the Earth. According to Nnimmo
Bassey, "There were alternatives to GMOs but African countries were left
without a choice. This should not happen again. We call on the World Food
Programme and other donors to ensure they will always make available real
alternatives in the future."

The report also gives more evidence about cynical US policy over GM food
aid, and criticizes the food aid system. Ricardo Navarro, Salvadorean
chairman of Friends of the Earth International said: "Food aid is being
used, particularly by the US, as a marketing tool to capture new markets.
Big agribusinesses are huge beneficiaries of the current food aid system.
There is a need for stricter regulation of food aid to prevent it from
being used as a way to open up new markets for GM products."

Today's report was released one month ahead of a crucial international
summit on agriculture due from June 23-25, 2003 in Sacramento (US). The
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), USAID, and the US State
Department are hosting the summit to which Ministers of Trade,
Agriculture, and Environment from 180 nations have been invited. It is
expected that the forum will be used by the US government to promote GM
crops in developing countries. The USDA and USAID are in charge of
managing some of the world's largest food aid programmes.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

*: The report is available for download at the Friends of the Earth
International website : www.foei.org/publications/gmo
THIS REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 AM (GMT) ON MAY 23, 2003

(i) Zoellick, R. May 14th. Transcript: USTR says WTO biotech ban case
aims to quell fears. "This dangerous effect of the EU's moratorium became
painfully evident last fall when some famine-stricken African countries
refused US food aid because of fabricated fears stoked by irresponsible
rhetoric about food safety".

(ii) European Commission. May 2003. European Commission regrets US
Decision to file WTO Case on GMOs as misguided and unnecessary. The EU
has rejected US arguments over the EU responsibility during the African
food crisis. They said: "food aid to starving populations should be about
meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of those who are in need. It should
not be about trying to advance the case for GM food abroad, or planting
GM crops for export, or indeed finding outlets for domestic surplus,
which is a regrettable of the US food aid policy"

(iii) 1 H.R.1298 United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis,
and Malaria Act of 2003 passed the Senate on May 15th. To view full text
of the bill Go to Congressional record: http://thomas.loc.gov/r108/
r108.html, Click on Daily Digest, May 15, and afterwards click on Senate
passed H.R.1298, United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis,
and Malaria Act. Then click on the last version, Section 104a

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

In Nigeria (Africa):
Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director Friends of the Earth Nigeria Tel: +
234-52-600165
or +234-80-23176577
Email: eraction@infoweb.abs.net

In Brussels (Belgium):
Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International +32-2-5420180 or +32-477-391496
Email: juan.lopez@foeeurope.org

In El Salvador (Central America):
Ricardo Navarro Chairman Friends of the Earth International. Tel: +503-
2200046 or +503-2206480
Email: foeichair@navegante.com.sv

In Washington (US):
Larry Bohlen, Friends of the Earth US Tel: + 1-202-783-7400 ext. 251
Email: lbohlen@foe.org