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FOOD: 'European Union not opposed to GM crops', African journalistsare told

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  'European Union not opposed to GM crops'
SOURCE: Daily Monitor, Uganda
AUTHOR: Joseph Olanyo
DATE:   14.05.2007

'European Union not opposed to GM crops'

Genetically Modified crops from African countries will not be denied
entry into the European Union (EU), top research scientists have said.
Speaking at an AfricaBio Biotechnology Communicators training workshop
in Pretoria, South Africa recently, the International Agro Biotechnology
Research Specialist, Willy de Greef, said the EU was not opposed to the
development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

"We are concerned that you always do not hear the truth. It is often
claimed that the EU is opposed to GMOs. Many people have been told
negative things, but we will continue with the meetings to ensure that
the technology is adopted," Mr Greef said.

GMOs are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered
in a way that does not occur naturally. GM foods are developed and
marketed because of their perceived advantage to either the producers or

The training workshop was organised by the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) in conjunction with AfricaBio. It
attracted journalists and research scientists from Uganda, Kenya, Malawi
and South Africa.

Mr De Greef's remarks come against a background of widespread opposition
to the development of GMOs. However, Mr De Greef said six EU countries
are currently planting GM crops, with several more hoping to start soon.

He said Spain is leading the way with 60,000 hectares already planted.
France, Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany and Slovakia, he said, have
also increased their acreages fivefold in 2006, from 1,500 hectares in
2005 to 8,500 hectares in 2006.

"What the activists are not telling you is that the most likely GMO
crops to be produced in Africa are maize, soybean, cotton and possibly
cassava at some future state," Mr Greef said.

"With the exception of cotton, none of these crops are currently being
exported to the EU. Should Africa one day become self sufficient in
maize and soybeans, surplus exports of approved GM products to the EU
will never be in jeopardy."

The President of AfricaBio, Prof Diran Makinde said the majority of
Africa's scientists, agricultural research institutions and political
leaders have embraced the GM technology and are speeding up the process
for the adoption of GM crops.

Prof Makinde, also working with New Partnership for African Development
said Heads of State at the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa
early this year, endorsed a 20-year bio-technology action plan calling
for cooperation among States in specific regions to bolster
biotechnology research and address bio-safety concerns.

"The reason no GM crops are being grown in Africa is because various
countries are still in the process of formulating regulatory procedures
to legalise the production of GM crops," Prof Makinde said.

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