Field trials on GM maize

Published on 7th June 2005

WFP approves $65 million


Zambia -The World Food Programme (WFP) has approved humanitarian assistance for Zambia amounting to US$65 million. This will cover a period of three years ending growing anxieties of an impending food shortage. It was in response to a request that was made by Government to WFP for relief and recovery assistance, following two years of an emergency operation that addressed decreasing food security because of drought and high prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Mr Magande said the amount of assistance included the cost of transport, shipping, handling and administration of the food items for the period covering 36 months. He said, “the main aim of the support is to increase household food assets, manage shocks, and reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS and food security among vulnerable populations in districts where the prevalence was high. The other aim is to meet nutritional needs of vulnerable groups and sustain increases in school enrolment, attendance and ability to learn and concentrate, while reducing gender disparities.” 


Oil output limits


Kuwait-High oil prices may spur OPEC to raise its output ceiling when it meets next week, the cartel\'s president said on Monday, however Iran said it opposed any production increase OPEC President Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah of Kuwait said \"Prices are too high and we have to do something, so, maybe we\'ll increase the ceiling because of the prices.\" Nevertheless, he said an increase in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries\' production ceiling would not affect actual output because members are already pumping in excess of official quotas. Saudi Arabia, OPEC\'s biggest producer, is the only country with any significant volume of spare capacity. Riyadh said it was willing to produce as much as its customers want, but that it could do nothing to resolve the refinery bottlenecks that were pushing up petroleum product prices.


Oil crisis


Zimbabwe-Despite the release of US$18.5 million by the central bank to the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe for fuel procurement last week, shortages continue throughout the country. Players in the oil sector said that it would take at least two weeks for the situation to normalize because of the logistics of bringing in the fuel, after funds were made available. Eric Bloch, who sits on the RBZ board said, \"The fuel scarcities are partially occasioned by inadequate availability of foreign currency but, to a much great extent, brought about by the government\'s resistance to greatly required price increases.\" He went further and said that not only had the international price of crude oil risen by 80-100 percent over the last 12 months but, in addition, exchange rate movements had significantly affected the transportation costs for bringing the fuel to Zimbabwe.


Field trials on GM maize


Nairobi- Kenya planted genetically modified (GM) maize in open fields. The seeds that are modified to resist insect pests called stem borers were planted first in a series of confined field trials at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) station in Kiboko on 27 May 2005. KARI director Romano Kiome hailed the move as an example of using science to address the needs of the people. He pointed out that the amount of maize Kenya loses to stem borers each year — about 400,000 tonnes — is nearly the same amount that the country imports annually. Experiments with the insect-resistant maize have been taking place at the KARI Biotechnology Center in a \'biosafety\' greenhouse that opened in June 2004. Stephen Mugo, one of the project leaders, said the field trials would be used to determine how effective the insect-resistant maize is at reducing the damage made by stem borers. If successful, the GM plants will be interbred with Kenyan maize lines to produce varieties adapted to local growing conditions.       






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