A new ruling by the World Trade Organization could make it harder for African countries to resist importing genetically modified foods, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The group Biowatch, based in South Africa, works against the use of GMO’s.
The director of Biowatch, Leslie Liddell, told English to Africa’s Ruby Ofori the WTO ruling paves the way for South Africa to force other African countries to import them. “South Africa, as a very strong promoter of GM crops and GM foods and everything GM, is seen as a powerhouse in Africa. It is also an isolated powerhouse on this issue because many countries in Africa refuse to allow GMOs in. But I’m saying this ruling now says,’South Africa you now have the right to export your GM produce to the rest of Africa and they can’t refuse it.’” At present the import of these foods has been banned by Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho and Zambia. Critics say the major GMO-producing nations -- the US, Canada and Argentina -- are putting undue pressure on African nations to open up their markets. South Africa already imports genetically modified foods, and Nigeria is about to introduce legislation allowing their import.
Ms. Liddell said African countries need to be cautious about allowing GMO imports until scientists can establish that they are safe. “Long enough periods of time have not passed whereby it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that GMO foods are safe for human health animal health and the environment,” she said.