20 Oct 2000 Africa Cries Out for Genetically Modified Foods: African-American Leadership Network Joined by African Leaders in Call for Providing Africa With the Tools to Feed Its People
African leaders are appealing to the United States government to ignore the misguided political protests against genetically-modified foods so that those afflicted with diseases and starvation on the African continent might have hope for the future. Project 21 members are supportive of these efforts to help blacks in Africa as well as educating all peoples of the world about the benefits of advancements in food technology.
A 1997 report by the World Bank and the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research estimated that biotechnology would increase agricultural production in the developing world by as much as 25%. In Africa, genetically-modified rice that is rich in Vitamin A could play a significant role in the fight to wipe out malnutrition among poor citizens. A modified banana is also being developed that will provide an affordable inoculation against hepatitis. Politically powerful opposition groups in Europe and North America, however, are trying to stop further biotechnical research and development. Opposition to biotech research was one of the causes of the radical protestors who tried to shut down the World Trade Organization in Seattle last year.
"I consider this opposition as elitism in its cruelest form since the poorest members of the population, blacks in particular, are going to suffer because of it," wrote Project 21 member John Meredith in a recent New Visions Commentary that was distributed by Project 21.
Hassan Adamu, the Nigerian Minister for Agricultural and Rural Development, echoed Meredith’s sentiments. In a Washington Post commentary published on September 11, Adamu wrote, "Millions of Africans – far too many of them children – are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Agricultural biotechnology offers a way to stop the suffering… To deny desperate, hungry people the means to control their futures by presuming to know what is best for them is not only paternalistic but morally wrong."
Additionally, on August 21, Kenyan President Daniel T. arap Moi wrote to President Bill Clinton about providing Africa with new genetically-modified foods. Moi wrote, "Today, the international community is on the verge of the biotechnology revolution which Africa cannot afford to miss… Africa risks a biotechnology gap if we fail to participate in this project just in the same way that concern has been expressed about the digital gap in information technology, without which deliberate intervention may result in a further marginalization of our continent."
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 [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.