Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa pleaded for “patience” on Thursday, so that scientists could look for “foolproof scientific evidence” that genetically improved foods are safe for human consumption. Funny, most of the globe (including the third world) already has all the evidence it needs.
A columnist in the Hindustan Times noted last week that “millions of Americans have been eating biotech cornflakes for breakfast for eight years” and “they haven’t grown horns either.” On Wednesday, the Malawi Insider took note of UN Food Programme director James Morris’ comments that “many people in the world have been eating GM food without any known adverse side effects.” Elsewhere in Africa on the same day, The Nation (in Nairobi, Kenya) credited genetically improved grains with the “potential to make many poor areas of the world, including Africa, self-sufficient in food production.”
Opinion makers in first-world nations like the U.S. and Great Britain are also beginning to see the light. The Las Vegas Review-Journal examined the current rash of biotech scaremongering last week, and called it “irrational,” “extremist,” “radical,” and “nonsense” with “a lethal impact.” Across the Atlantic Ocean, The Economist rightly complains this week about “anti-GM hysteria,” and opines that “Europe’s greens are helping to keep Africans hungry.”
So what do the people of Zambia think about all of this? Hardly anyone has bothered to ask them, but a large group of them made their feelings known yesterday. The Times of Zambia reports that over 500 sacks of genetically improved corn — the same food aid that Mwanawasa rejected last week — were “looted” from a storeroom. Villagers from a town in Zambia’s southern province apparently decided to choose this food over “patient” starvation. A Zambian official described the incident as “very unfortunate.”