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Let them eat bark



Published: Thu, September 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Americans are so well fed, it's sickening.

We eat too much fat, not enough fruits and vegetables. Obesity rates are growing, arteries are clogging and people are dying before their time. There's much to be said for the idea that Americans should eat more sensibly -- or simply that they should eat less.

But one thing that can't be said about Americans is that they're starving.

If only the same could be said about millions of unfortunate men, women and children in Africa. A combination of bad weather and bad management is creating a crisis on the continent.

In the country of Zambia alone, a million people are starving and that number is likely to more than double.

Starving on principle

The people are reduced to eating grasses, dried roots and the bark from trees. Meanwhile, their president, Levy Mwanawasa, stands firmly between them and tons of American-grown corn that would be theirs for the taking. Why? Because Mwana wasa, who, by the way, isn't starving, has decided that genetically modified corn is "poison" and "inherently dangerous."

Mwanawasa, a lawyer by trade before becoming a politician a decade ago, has no scientific basis on which to condemn U.S. corn. He's bought into the untested contentions of European environmentalists that genetically modified crops will be the ruination of us all.

As we acknowledged, much bad can be said about the American diet and its affect on people's health. But nowhere is there any evidence of harm being caused by the genetically modified corn that virtually every American eats in some form every day.

If Europeans want to deny themselves access to the foods that Americans thrive on, fine. But for them to export their contempt for American technology to nations where people are starving is immoral.

Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland have accepted the genetically modified corn. Zimbabwe and Mozambique take it if it's milled into flour, which is the least that Mwanawasa should do for his people.




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