GENET archive


9-Misc: GE debate in Africa (1)

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  AFRICA: Annan calls for "green revolution" to reduce hunger
DATE:   6 Jun 2004 

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AFRICA: Annan calls for "green revolution" to reduce hunger

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

ADDIS ABABA, 6 Jul 2004 (IRIN) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi
Annan said on Monday that halving hunger in Africa by 2015 under global
anti-poverty goals seemed more of a "far-off fantasy" than an achievable
target. He called for a "green revolution" if the lives of 200 million
people suffering from chronic hunger on the continent were to be
radically changed.

"Africa is the only continent where child malnutrition is getting worse
rather than better," Annan said. "Tragically, the past decade has seen
very little progress."

Addressing an audience which included seven African leaders, scientists
and development experts, he said the green revolution in Asia had tripled
food productivity there. "Africa has not yet had a green revolution of
its own," he told told a seminar on reducing hunger at the UN Conference
Centre in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Women often bore the brunt of shortages, Annan noted, adding that they
also did "the lion's share" of agricultural work, preparing food and
gathering water and firewood. However, they lacked access to credit and
technology training, and were often denied legal rights, including the
right to own land, he said.

Girls, Annan noted, suffered disproportionately in terms of nutrition,
with the result that they gave birth to underweight children. "Thus the
plight of poverty and disease is carried forward to the next generation,"
he said.

"We are here today to end this pattern, and ensure that Africa's children
enjoy a different inheritance," he stressed.

He argued that by applying scientific and technological know-how, the
continent could generate its own green revolution for the 21st century.
This would involve the expansion of small-scale irrigation, the
improvement of soil health, electrification and the provision of access
to information technology and hunger early warning schemes.

Annan also dwelt on the AIDS pandemic, which is claiming 6,500 African
lives a day, thereby robbing the continent of a generation of farmers.
"In Africa, fighting hunger and fighting AIDS must go hand in hand," he said.

 The seminar addressed by Annan was jointly sponsored by the UN
Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger and the Ethiopian government, and
was entitled "Innovative Approaches to Meeting the Hunger MDG in Africa".

Participants in the high-level gathering will focus on practical and
innovative steps to halve the number of hungry and malnourished people in
Africa by 2015. They aim to address ways of improving agriculture, health
care and nutrition, and of rectifying weaknesses brought about by poor
infrastructure, weak markets and massive environmental degradation.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  ETHIOPIA: Meles defends genetically modified crops
DATE:   6 Jun 2004 

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ETHIOPIA: Meles defends genetically modified crops

ADDIS ABABA, 6 July (IRIN/UN) - Africa should not reject genetically
modified (GM) crops as a means of tackling its massive hunger, Ethiopian
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Monday.

Speaking after an international summit on hunger, Meles said traditional
technology and biotechnology could be used in tandem. "Should we rule out
GM crops or biotechnology as a weapon in our arsenal? No. Why should we
rule out any technology? GM technology is like every [other] technology,"
Meles told journalists. "It could be used well, or it could be misused.
The issue is how to use it well. I think it can be used well if is used
safely and if it does not increase the already big power of huge
multinationals at the expense of the small-scale farmer."

Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the special adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed. "I think agro-
biotechnology is an important tool that can add a lot to the food
security and incomes of African farmers," Sachs said.

Both had spoken out at the summit, which aimed to establish sound
policies towards halving the chronic hunger facing 200 million Africans
each year by the target date of 2015. The target is one of the eight MDGs
agreed by international leaders in 2000 towards reducing poverty, hunger
and disease across the globe.

Meles said African leaders needed to do more in key areas like governance
and conflict on the continent as the main factors. "Without peace and
stability there cannot be a sustained attack on poverty and hunger," he
told journalists at a press conference after the one-day summit. "And we
in Africa are the main causes of the problems of instability in our
continent, and lack of leadership in this regard has been an issue."

Meles added that the stalled peace process with Eritrea was hindering
development. "The lack of progress on that count is a problem both for
Ethiopia and Eritrea," he said of the two-year deadlock since an
international decision aimed at ending their tensions along their 1,000-
km common frontier.

He stressed that Ethiopia "unequivocally" ruled out a return to arms to
resolve the deadlock. "Only a peaceful solution will do," he said, adding
that the matter had been raised with Annan.

Meles also argued that poor implementation of policies had often been
responsible for failures to reduce poverty, but said this was mainly due
to a lack of human skills. He added that developed nations "use this an
excuse to fail on their repeated promises" while African nations used
those failures as an excuse for their own flaws. He stressed that if
continents like Africa continued to suffer from hunger there could be no
global stability or security in rich nations.

"There is no security for the West without security for the rest," he
said. "Security for the rest is primarily a matter of food security and
fighting hunger."

 [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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