Made rejects GMO food


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Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said Zimbabwe would not accept any food aid containing genetically modified organisms.

He also said there was nothing to discuss with the United States because the Zimbabwean people would not be used as guinea pigs.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2021, ZIMBABWE’S BIOTECH BROUHAHA

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2021

2002-09-04 11:18

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002021

 

SIPDIS

 

USAID FOR ANDREW NATSIOS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

PARIS FOR NEARY

ROME FOR FODAG

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2012

TAGS: EAID PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE’S BIOTECH BROUHAHA

 

 

Classified By: Political Officer Kimberly Jemison for reasons 1.5 (b) a

nd (d).

 

1. (C) Summary. On 1 September, while attending the WSSD in

South Africa, Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement

Minister Joseph Made proclaimed that Zimbabwe would not

accept food aid containing genetically modified organisms.

He also said there was nothing to discuss with the U.S. since

the Zimbabwean people would not be used as guinea pigs. The

latest development in the biotechnology-derived food aid saga

is not surprising, but does stymie our efforts to get food

into Zimbabwe. This latest contradiction between Agriculture

Minister Joseph Made and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo

suggests a lack of consensus and objectives within the

Cabinet on the issue of food. The ambiguity over

biotechnology-derived foods, in addition to Zimbabwe not

signing the memorandum of understanding with the WFP for a

17500 MT maize swap, puts into question the GOZ,s commitment

to securing and providing food for its people and forces us

to consider alternatives, such as providing wheat in lieu of

maize. Before that though, WFP Director James Morris arrives

in Zimbabwe today,September 4, for meetings with Zimbabwean

officials that, we hope, will lead to a clear GOZ decision to

go forward with the maize swap arrangement. END SUMMARY.

 

——————–

MADE REJECTS BT FOOD

——————–

 

2. (U) On 1 September, while attending the WSSD in South

Africa, Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement Minister

Joseph Made proclaimed that Zimbabwe would not accept food

aid containing genetically modified organisms. He also said

there was nothing to discuss with the U.S. since the

Zimbabwean people would not be used as guinea pigs. While we

have not seen a full text of Made’s remarks, other press

accounts made it seem that he was referring only to unmilled

biotechnology-derived (BT) maize.

 

3. (U) Until this outburst, Zimbabwean officials had only

rarely cited human health regarding the import of BT food,

and never in their discussions with us. Zimbabwe,s

scientific community had already approved the use of BT foods

for human consumption but had reservations about BT seed

germination, cross-pollination, and its potential effect on

the environment as well as commercial trade with the E.U.

 

——————–

MOYO ACCEPTS BT FOOD

——————–

 

4. (C) On 29 August, Regional WFP Coordinator Judith Lewis

told USAID that she had spoken with July Moyo, Minister of

Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare, and he indicated

that he would get the maize swap completed quickly. He also

said he was not aware of any problems and thought the

transfer was a done deal. In addition to Moyo accepting BT

foods as safe, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa began his

speech at a World Health Organization technical meeting of

health ministers in Harare last week, with comments that BT

foods are very safe for human consumption. More recently on

September 3, Moyo stated to U.N./WFP officials that Made,s

statements at the Summit do not necessarily reflect final GOZ

policy on this subject. NOTE. Minister July Moyo had offered

in writing to swap 17,500 tons of U.S. BT, whole-kernel maize

for an equivalent amount of maize in its own reserves. The

GOZ would then mill and distribute the U.S. maize while WFP

would distribute the Zimbabwe maize. This was intended to be

a one-time deal but would most likely set a precedent for

potential future swaps. END NOTE.

 

5. (C) In spite of Moyo,s stated willingness to accept the

maize swap, Zimbabwe has not signed the memorandum of

understanding with the WFP, according to Victor Angelo, the

UN Resident Representative. In a meeting with the Ambassador

on September 1, Angelo also denied press reports that the GOZ

has stopped efforts to import grain and would rely solely on

donated food.

 

———————-

ALTERNATIVES TO MAIZE

———————-

 

6. (C) If the issue of BT maize cannot be resolved, we will

need to consider other alternatives. Judith Lewis has

suggested an alternative to maize in the form of an exchange

of U.S. Emerson Trust wheat with the GOZ for maize for WFP.

Under such an arrangement, the wheat would go to private

sector millers and be distributed through the local market

channels. We understand why WFP would want to secure the

swapped maize for distribution but question if this might be

an unnecessary wrinkle. Transferring the maize from the GOZ

to WFP does nothing to address the overall maize deficit but

may help circumvent grain trading restrictions. In this

zero-sum game simply providing U.S. wheat through private

sector channels might be the best recourse, and at least

close the gap in urban areas, but we would have to look

closely at how this would effect local markets and

competition. Given that wheat and bread are running out in

urban areas and that the October wheat harvest will be far

below average (Made admitted this in an August 30

conversation with Victor Angelo), provision of wheat would be

addressing an increasing food security concern.

 

7. COMMENT. (C) Over the last year, Zimbabwean Cabinet

ministers have frequently contradicted one another. On top

of this, there now appears to be a stalemate within the

Zimbabwe Cabinet regarding either accepting outside, BT, or

U.S. donated food aid. There are clearly those who want as

little outside food as possible so that GOZ can control the

distribution. There could also be a contingent that is

blocking approval to burnish their anti-imperialist

credentials.

 

8. (C) Even if the GOZ finally signs the MOU and allows the

17500 MT swap, Zimbabwe will still need 1 million tons of

maize over the next several months to avert widespread

starvation. The GOZ has not done enough to facilitate these

imports and there are certainly “radicals” in the Cabinet and

ZANU-PF who prefer to minimize the internationally donated

food so that ZANU-PF and the GOZ control the bulk of food

deliveries to the population. The Government is also under

pressure to cover petrol imports and other obligations, and

the little foreign exchange that is available will not be

able to cover everything. If Zimbabwe ultimately rejects the

swap, the likelihood that the country would accept further

donations of BT maize in the near term is remote, and we

would have to pursue alternative actions, such as the Emerson

Trust wheat possibility. END COMMENT.

SULLIVAN

 

(21 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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