Feeding the Famine? American Food Aid and the GMO Debate in Southern Africa. Food Policy. 29 (6) (December, 2004): 593-608.


The inclusion of genetically modified maize in food aid shipments to Southern Africa during the 2002 food crisis rekindled debates over agricultural biotechnology. As the region edged ever closer to famine–putting the lives of some 14 million Africans at risk–corporate pundits, government officials and biotech’s critics debated the health and environmental dangers posed by the new technology.

By situating the decision to send genetically modified maize to Southern Africa in the context of US-European debates over agricultural biotechnology, it becomes clear that the promotion of biotechnology has nothing to do with ending hunger in the region. Indeed, American food aid shipments to Southern Africa have little to do with the famine at all. Instead, I argue that US food aid policy following the 2002 crisis was intended to promote the adoption of biotech crops in Southern Africa, expanding the market access and control of transnational corporations and undermining local smallholder production thereby fostering greater food insecurity on the Continent.

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