Tag Archives: usaid

GMO debate is democratic test for liberalizing Ethiopia

3 Jun

Posted By The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Teshome Hunduma

As the government controversially opens Ethiopia to genetically modified crops, now is the time for newly unshackled civil society voices to lead the debate @EthiopiaInsight

This echoes worrying trends elsewhere. Debates on GMOs across the globe have suffered from high levels of polarization, often disintegrating into a battle between modernization and farmers’ rights. In reality, smallholder farmers’ interests and needs often lie somewhere in between. Ethiopia now has the opportunity to show global leadership by bridging this divide. To do this, Ethiopia must nurture a respectful and balanced debate that can be the foundation of a much-needed institutional framework to regulate GMOs.

A coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations and their global allies have launched a campaign against the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms in Ethiopia.

The public outcry started when United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service published a report that revealed that the government had approved commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) insect-resistant cotton (Bt-cotton) and confined trial of GM enset and maize in Ethiopia.

In 2015, the Ethiopian parliament opened up the country to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by loosening the safeguards built into a 2009 biosafety law. Three years later, the government approved commercial cultivation of a strain of cotton.

Despite this, there has been limited public debate or media coverage. Yet, the moves broke with decades of Ethiopian public policy and have major implications for Africa as a whole.

The Ethiopian approach was praised in the above-mentioned report published in February 2020: “approval of commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) insect-resistant cotton (Bt-cotton) and confined field trail on GM maize can be taken as an effort to improve agricultural productivity using modern agricultural tools.”

Pleased with the government’s deeds, the report went on to state that the country’s “adoption of Bt-cotton not only has [high] economic importance but [is] also expected to have [a] positive influence on the acceptance of this technology in the region.”

Criticizing the government for its past precautionary approach to GMOs, the report says Ethiopia is now on track “especially considering that a decade ago the country was at the forefront of the anti-GMO movement in Africa.”

The USDA’s appreciation of Ethiopia’s policy change may well be driven by a strategic interest for the U.S. and its multinationals to use Ethiopia as a springboard to expand GMO cultivation in Africa.

Despite GMO establishment of various crops in South Africa since the late 1990s, expansion elsewhere on the continent has thus far been restricted to four out of the 47 countries, and with the exception of South Africa, limited to Bt cotton.  However, there are indications that this may change. While recent droughts have led Zambia and Zimbabwe to lift bans on importation of GM maize for consumption, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda seem to be the new target countries for expanding GM production. Uganda has allowed trials for genetically modified banana in last few years. Rwanda is considering opening up to genetically modified potato.

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The US military could take a stronger role in stabilizing African nations. Does it want to?

27 Jul

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Sara Jerving, Devex
 
Proposed cuts to foreign aid in the United States budget have some experts wondering whether the military will play a greater role in responding to humanitarian crises on the African continent.
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Latest USAID Ethiopia mission exposes WHO candidate Tedros Adhanom’s integrity problems

22 Oct

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

In his renowned book The New Diplomacy: International Affairs in the Modern Age (1983), former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban travels far in time and the exquisite in style to find his definition of diplomacy. At a prominent point in his book, he quotes an 18th century French writer by the name Le Trosne, who once had described diplomacy as:

“an obscure art which hides itself in the folds of deceit, which fears to let itself be seen and believes it can exist only in the darkness of mystery.”

That may not certainly be the case. Its acceptance also is a harsh verdict against so many renowned diplomats with great achievements. Sadly, however, two hundred-thirty-nine years later Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom seems to be improvising Le Tronse’s essence of diplomacy. Hence, all that the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general post candidate has to do is tinker with the latter part of the French writer’s description of diplomacy, i.e., expunging the last six words – ‘only in the darkness of mystery’ – and replacing them with “by consistent lies and self-replicating fogginess.”
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Relying on TPLF’s powers & influences, EFFORT’s Abergelle is muscling in on competitors, instead of winning market thru competition

9 Feb

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Topping the Africa list in its livestock population and ranking sixth in the world, the potential of the livestock sector for Ethiopia cannot be disputed.
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International partners may be under severe restrictions in dealing with Ethiopia’s drought situation

29 Dec

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The TPLF regime has started to distribute 9,692 metric tons of food ration to 10.2 million drought victims, which is a government figure, as insisted upon by its National Disaster Risk Management Coordination Commission (NDRMCC), because of which to the satisfaction of Addis Abeba officials for a while there has not been any reference by the United Nations of the drought’s impact affecting 15-16 million people.
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How one pharmacist made a difference: Transforming Ethiopia’s pharmaceutical sector

2 Aug

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Annette C. Sheckler

Ayelew Adinew was working as a pharmacist in a large public hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He looked around and saw that the 100-year old pharmaceutical system was broken.
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US, UK, World Bank among aid donors complicit in Ethiopia’s war on indigenous tribes

22 Jul

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Will Hurd*

    USAID, the UK’s DFID and the World Bank are among those covering up for severe human rights abuses against indigenous peoples in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, inflicted during forced evictions to make way for huge plantations, writes Will Hurd. Their complicity in these crimes appears to be rooted in US and UK partnership with Ethiopia in the ‘war on terror’.

    The Mursi were told by government officials that if they didn’t sell off their cattle, the cattle would be injected with poison.

In the fall of 2012 my cell phone rang. It was an official from Department for International Development, DFID – the UK government aid agency. He implored me to remove his name from a transcript of an audio recording I’d translated. He worried he might lose his job, which would hurt his family.
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How genetically-modified foods are quietly making in-roads in Ethiopia

21 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Lauren McCarty

As two of the oldest farmers in their village, brothers Debela and Bedasa Ofosea have spent their entire lives farming in a small village outside Nekemte, Oromia, in Ethiopia. Both brothers, in their fifties, have seen only gradual improvements in farming techniques over their lifetimes, however, the biggest changes have come in just the last couple of years.
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