The backlash has begun against President Bush’s comment last week that a European Union ban on genetically modified (GM) foods is contributing to world hunger. The reality, critics say, is that the dispute over GM crops is an international agricultural battle with billion-dollar stakes, and that concern about famine in the developing world is a sideshow at best and a smokescreen at worst. They point out that of all industrialized nations, the U.S. gives one of the smallest proportions of its gross domestic product to global development; that the real problem with food production in Africa is soil fertility, which will not be improved by GM seeds; and that biotechnology companies do not have a reliable track record of helping poor nations. In fact, according to a report released yesterday by the anti-GM British development agency ActionAid, GM crops would drive poor farmers deeper into debt by forcing them to buy expensive seeds and chemicals and preventing them from saving seeds from one harvest to the next.
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