For Release: June 23, 2003
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106
Black Group Praises Bush for June 23 Demand that European Leaders Step Up International Fight Against Hunger
Renews Call for End to European Ban on Genetically Modified Foods
President George W. Bush has earned the praise of members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 for his strong, renewed demand that European leaders help in the fight against famine in Africa by dropping their opposition to genetically modified foods.
At the Biotechnology Industry Organization conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Bush said that European leaders who are restricting the importation of genetically modified foods and pressuring other countries - particularly those in famine-ravaged Africa - to reject so-called biofoods are "acting on unfounded, unscientific fears." Bush said: "For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology."
Genetic modification can be used to produce foods that will grow in adverse climates, repel insects, stay fresher for longer periods of time and provide greater nutritional benefits. Additionally, foods can be grown to administer vaccinations that thwart deadly diseases. Fears of trade sanctions from European powers opposed to genetically modified foods has forced the governments of African countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe to reject U.S. food aid that contains biofood items.
"The debate over the use of biofoods in Africa is unfortunately not just about food. If that were the case, millions more Africans would be going to bed with full stomachs and be properly immunized since we have the technology to do both right now," said Project 21 member John Meredith. "What is really at issue here is the same European mentality that has successfully suppressed Africans and people of African decent for hundred of years."
President Bush has already criticized Europeans' "unfounded, unscientific fears" about genetically modified foods, and has urged European governments to "join - not hinder - the great cause of ending hunger in Africa." The Bush Administration has filed suit with the World Trade Organization to overturn European bans on biofoods.
A commentary by Project 21 member John Meredith on genetically modified foods is available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA298.html. A National Center "Ten-Second Response" newsletter on the specifics of the Bush Administration's request to the World Trade Organization on this matter also is available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/TSR6203.html.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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