A new report published by a non-for-profit organization that promotes crop biotechnology has cast doubt on the status of a 40 ton shipment of genetically modified Monsanto maize that entered Egypt last year, local paper Egypt Independent recently reported.
Hot on the trail of GMOs in the food-scarce country, journalist Louise Sarant talked with activists and bio-safety insiders who expressed concern about discrepancies between The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)’s assertion that 1000 hectares of MON810 maize was planted in Egypt and the Ministry of Agriculture’s claims that the entire shipment of insect-resistant seeds was destroyed.
Funded by Monsanto, Bayer AG, and American government agencies USAID and US Department of Agriculture, ISAAA considers Egypt to be the third most promising market for genetically modified maize, soybean and cotton, according to Egypt Independent.
Even so, when Monsanto’s 40 ton shipment entered Egypt in January, 2012, the Ministry of Environment ordered its seizure on the grounds that they had not approved it. But then, Ministry of Agriculture custom officials took control of the shipment and publicly announced that it was destroyed.
Speaking to Sarant, Osama El-Tayeb, a microbiology and immunology professor at the 6th of October University Faculty of Pharmacy said that he has information that some seeds were destroyed in certain governorates.
However, that the Ministry of Agriculture has failed to publicly dismiss the ISAAA’s claim that 1000 hectares of MON810 was planted has aroused suspicion.
Greenpeace campaigner Ahmed el Droubi told the paper that someone in the Ministry of Agriculture should be held responsible if it turns out that parts of the shipment escaped destruction despite overwhelming evidence that GMO crops come with severe ecological, health and financial side effects.
Meanwhile, El-Tayeb, who is an industry insider, is unconvinced by the validity of the ISAA’s report.
“The ISAAA cannot associate itself with scientists unless they buy them first,” he told EI. “It’s a piece of crap.”
Either way, this is a seedy story. If ISAAA’s report is true, that means that the Ministry of Agriculture has deceived and potentially endangered the Egyptian public.
On the other hand, the ISAAA could be fudging the truth. But why?
Image credit: Corn being injected, Shutterstock