Pick Your Poison
In the First World, debate over genetically modified (GM) foods is about differing ideologies; in southern Africa, where famine is deepening its grip, it is about life and death. The U.S. has offered to provide emergency food aid in the form of corn to seven stricken African countries, but some of that corn has been genetically modified. That leaves the governments of those nations facing the difficult choice of accepting an unproven and possibly unsafe technology or turning away food that could save lives. Advocates of genetic modification say the technology would not only feed those who are currently starving, but could also help solve world hunger in the long-term by making plants drought- and pest-resistant. Critics, however, say the human health effects are unknown and that GM crops could harm natural varieties, as well as disturb the environment in other ways. Complicating the issue in southern Africa are competing economic concerns: Some say GM crops are necessary to keep African countries competitive in the international market, while others contend that adoption of such crops could drive away European consumers, who are wary of GM foods.