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Agricultural ministers in South and East Africa have agreed to create a regional policy on genetically modified (GM) organisms in a bid to ensure that their countries follow common guidelines on health and environmental safety, and other related issues.

The decision, taken at a meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA) in Kampala, Uganda, comes in response to controversy over the Zambian government's refusal to accept donations of GM maize (see Zambia stands firm against GM).

A similar agreement was made last month by Southern African Development Community (SADC), which decided to set up an Advisory Committee on GM organisms "to develop guidelines to assist member states guard against potential risks in food safety, contamination of genetic resources, ethical issues, trade related issues and consumer concerns" (see Southern African nations to probe GM safety).

COMESA is a regional trade organisation that groups Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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