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Date:

July 13, 2000

Subject:

AFRICAN SCIENTISTS SIGN GM FOOD PETITION

 

ArialMedia Release
Arial2000-07-11
Embargo: none


SCIENTISTS SIGN GM FOOD PETITION


Over 300 South African scientists have
signed a declaration expressing their concern about inaccurate media
information regarding genetically modified (GM) food.


The majority of the signatories are from independent, academic or
government backgrounds. The list will be available for scrutiny at the
one-day GM Food Symposium hosted by AfricaBio at Gallagher Estate in
Midrand on Tuesday 1 August 2000.


The declaration reads: "As a consumer and scientist I am
concerned about inaccurate information in the media and statements made
by some retailers implying that GM foods are unsafe for humans and a
threat to the environment. There is no scientific evidence to support
claims that GM foods are unsafe for humans or the environment. I wish
to encourage accurate reporting on this valuable technology and
encourage food retailers to provide consumers with scientifically based
information. I do not believe there is a need for a five-year
moratorium on GM foods. I believe this technology has a role to play in
providing food security in South Africa and other developing
countries."


According to AfricaBio executive director, Dr Jocelyn Webster,
the GM Food Symposium aims to present the hard facts and will hopefully
dispel some of the myths surrounding this contentious issue.


AfricaBio is a non-profit association serving as a forum for
informed debate on modern biotechnological issues relating to food,
feed and fibre in Africa. Its wide spectrum of members represents,
among others, research and tertiary education institutions,
agricultural organisations, the biotech industry, food manufacturers
and retailers and a large fraternity of scientists.


At the symposium an impressive list of speakers from professional,
consumer, government, industry and environmental backgrounds will
highlight food biotechnology benefits, concerns, regulations and their
effects on suppliers and consumers.


Key international speakers include Dr John Kilama, president of the
Global BioDiversity Institute in the USA, Prof Bevan Moseley, member of
the EU Scientific Committee for Food and Prof Channapatna Prakash of
the Tuskegee University in Alabama, USA.


Dr Florence Wambugu from Kenya will explain the impact of the new
technology on Africa and subsistence farming in particular.


Local speakers include representatives from Biowatch SA, the Consumer
Institute of SA, the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Agriculture
and Health as well as a variety of professionals from scientific and
academic institutions.


Questions related to the proposed labeling of GM foods, the health
aspects of food biotechnology, legislation and trade barrier issues
related to the technology will also be addressed.


One of the highlights of the symposium will be a public debate, chaired
by Radio 702 presenter David O'Sullivan, where all delegates are
welcome to air their views and quiz the experts on various aspects of
food biotechnology. Anyone interested in attending the symposium can
call for a registration form and programme by fax-on-demand at 082 232
5600 (code 7778) or send e-mail to africabio@mweb.co.za.
ends
Issued by Tindrum.
For more information call Paul Roos at 083 442 1280
or e-mail: bcp@mweb.co.za.