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GM CROPS
WON'T SOLVE WORLD HUNGER

There is no evidence to support claims that genetically modified (GM) crops will help solve world hunger, a report by a development agency opposed to the technology said yesterday.

UK-based development agency ActionAid, a known opponent of gene-spliced crops, said GM seeds are more suited to the needs of large-scale commercial farmers, with no consistent evidence that they yield more and require less chemicals.

The report 'Going Against the Grain' said GM varieties would not meet poor farmers needs and could cause food insecurity by pushing them deeper into debt as they become more reliant on expensive seeds and chemicals.

It said the development of 'Terminator technology' to produce sterile seeds, would prevent farmers from following their traditional practice of saving seeds from one harvest to the next.

Some scientists say that gene technology could feed the world's malnourished people, with plants that produce higher yields and are insect, disease and drought resistant.

Opponents argue GM plants could change the face of the countryside through cross pollination with traditional varieties.

"Poor communities need investment in low-cost, low-input farmer-friendly technologies, building on farmers' knowledge," the report said.

"GM seeds, by contrast, are targeted at large-scale commercial farmers growing cash crops in monocultures," the report added.

The study also claimed that less than one percent of all GM research was directed at poor farmers.

"GM research in Africa, for instance, focuses on export crops such as cut flowers, fruits and tobacco, which are grown in large-scale commercial plantations in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe," it said.

ActionAid head of policy Matthew Lockwood said Britain, which is due to decide on whether to grow GM crops commercially in coming months, should not accept them in the name of developing countries.

"GM does not provide a magic bullet solution to world hunger. What poor people really need is access to land, water, better roads to get their crops to market, education and credit schemes," he said in a statement.

The report recommended that there should be no further commercialisation of GM crops until more research has been carried out on their impacts, especially in poor countries.

Written by: Planet Ark


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