Zambian villagers loot GM maize

A warehouse storing sacks of genetically modified maize was raided in southern Zambia, officials said Monday, highlighting tensions between the government’s policy not to distribute the food and a growing hunger crisis.

The government has refused donations of genetically modified maize to alleviate the country’s food shortage, saying it is worried the food could be poisonous, although UN agencies have certified its safety.

Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatane denied reports that hungry villagers in the Monze district in southern Zambia looted about 500 bags of the maize. He instead blamed the break-in on thieves who he said sold the maize to farmers as cattle feed.

The Zambian government has requested that food relief agencies remove genetically modified food donations from warehouses around the country to avoid incidents of theft.

According to the United Nations, 2,9-million Zambians are at risk of hunger in the coming months and many are already suffering from food shortages.

Several southern African countries are facing a hunger crisis. United Nations estimates 14,4-million people in Zambia and five other Southern African countries - Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland - urgently need help to avoid mass starvation caused by erratic weather and exacerbated by government mismanagement in some countries.
- Sapa-AP

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