Why GE Food Aid?
Dr. Florence Wambugu, a Kenyan scientist, who worked with others to develop Kenya's first genetically engineered sweet potato during the 1990s, has contributed to the recent debate on genetically engineered (GE) food. She is quoted as saying "Europeans can afford to debate. They are arguing from the comfort of a food surplus. Hungry people want something to eat today."
The implication of this statement is that anyone who would deny a hungry person a meal today, even a GE one, is complacent, unfeeling, unable to imagine the cruelty that is starvation. So we should feed the hungry with GE food now.
But why GE food?
Why should we dump unwanted GE products on those who have limited freedom of choice as it is?
Why should the vulnerable be expected to take risks over food that we in the rich Northern hemisphere are unwilling to take ourselves, and against which no insurance company anywhere is willing to insure?
Why should the Governments of Developing Countries run the risk that, if they accept GE aid, they will later find it politically difficult to oppose the corporate take-over of their agricultural economies (as suggested by Devinder Sharma)?
We in the North, who have so much, should be giving of our best to those less fortunate that we are. Where it is needed urgently, we should send non-GE food that we would be prepared to eat ourselves. Or we should send money to buy some of the surplus non-GE food that is already available. And, in the long term, we should be changing global attitudes and systems so that hunger is eradicated completely.
Why GE food aid? I cannot think of a good reason.
Is GE Food So Bad?
But why are GE food and GE technology so unpopular?
Genewatch UK refers to a 2001 Euro barometer survey which showed that : 94% of Europeans want the right to choose whether to eat GE food; 85.9% want to know more about GE foods before eating them;70.9% do not want to eat this type of food at all. As a result of huge public pressure in the UK, supermarkets have made significant efforts to stock goods that are GE-free, and the organic items available have greatly increased in number and variety.
Our worries fall into a number of categories:
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