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Food aid for famine-stricken Zambia will come to a halt by early October unless the country lifts its ban on donations of genetically modified (GM) maize, the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) announced this week.

The warning comes as the WFP upped its estimate of the number in "dire need" of food aid in Southern Africa from 12.8 to 14.4 million. About 2.3 million people in Zambia are facing severe food shortages as the result of drought.

The Zambian government is currently refusing donations of GM maize, citing its concern that such food could be harmful to human health. Other countries, including Malawi and Zimbabwe, have accepted donations of GM maize, but have insisted that it is milled to prevent it from being planted (which would risk 'contamination' of local crop varieties).

A group of Zambian scientists is currently on a fact-finding mission in Europe and the United States. The Zambian government is expected to announce a decision on whether to lift or continue the ban within the next two weeks.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Related external links:

World Food Programme

Related articles:

African scientists urge GM acceptance, 4 September 2002
WHO urges Africa to accept GM food, 30 August 2002
Famine-stricken countries reject GM maize, 29 July 2002
Zimbabwe shuns US gift of transgenic maize, 5 June 2002

Photo credit: 2002 - © WFP/Richard Lee
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