Skip to content
for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Egypt’s Ban on GM Food “Sensible” – GM Freeze

Immediate release (14 Aug 2009)

Calls to Eve Mitchell 01381 610 740 or to Pete Riley on 0845 217 8992

NB – the original source of this news (Egypt’s state press agency MENA) issued a piece the next day denying its own story, citing an unnamed Agriculture Ministry official. GM Freeze will watch the situation and issue any updates we can if the situation in Egypt is clarified.

GM Freeze warmly welcomed reports that Egypt’s Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza has announced all agricultural imports to the country must now be certified non-GM and that cargoes will be sampled to verify this as “very sensible”.

Critically, the requirement for certification is also reported to cover exports from Egypt, effectively preventing GM crops from being grown in the country – a clear move away from last year’s controversial approval of Monsanto’s GM MON810 maize (a crop banned in several EU countries [1]). Keeping GM out of Egypt’s agriculture will therefore protect the country’s exports into the future by retaining markets in countries that reject GM.

Minster Abaza is quoted as saying, “[A non-GMO policy] would mean that soya oil imports would only be possible from Brazil and not from the US or Argentina.”

The statement reveals how much Egyptian policy has changed since the country was party to a formal dispute at the WTO in 2003 over the EU’s precautionary approach to GMOs and national bans in some countries. However shortly after it was launched, Egypt pulled out of the US complaint, which was seen as a means to open up the markets for GM crops in Africa.

Egypt is an influential country in Africa and the Middle East. Its previous limited cultivation of and experimentation with GM crops [2] has been held up by the biotech industry and pro-GM
Governments and media alike as model for the developing world and evidence of growing “acceptance” of the “inevitability” of the technology. [3] The biotech industry has presented Egypt as a gateway to the rest of Africa for GMOs, a country “of strategic importance for the African continent”. [4]

Egypt’s rejoining GM-free nations in Africa leaves only Burkina Faso growing GM cotton (for the first time this year) and South Africa growing GM cotton, soya and maize. Three Monsanto maize varieties failed in South Africa this year covering 82,000 hectares (80% failure rate) and costing farmers millions. [3]

Eve Mitchell of GM Freeze commented:

Egypt’s ban on GM is very sensible. Egypt is often called an ‘emerging economy’, but their scientific and agricultural expertise go back centuries, including in attempts to develop GM themselves. Their rejection of GM food and crops demonstrates clearly how little GM has to offer the developing world. It would appear that now Egypt prefers not to put its own agriculture and trade at risk merely to please the floundering GM industry.


Calls to Eve Mitchell 01381 610 740 or to Pete Riley on 0845 217 8992.

[1] Mon810 GM maize has been banned in Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Luxemburg.

[2] “Egypt will help Tanzania with ‘inevitable’ GM crops”, see

[3] “’But there is evidence of continued acceptance of GM crops – in 2008, three nations grew biotech crops for the first time, says ISAAA: Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Egypt…The increase in approvals and adoption demonstrates that countries around the world, especially developing countries, recognize the benefits of biotechnology,’ says Pioneer’s Kenney.” see and “Wearing down resistance to GM crops in Egypt”, Truth and Trade and Technology quoted at

[4] “Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa”, see and “South African GMO Crop Failure Highlights Dangers of Food Supply Domination”, see

[5] ISAAA Brief 39-2008: Executive Summary, see and “Biotech Crops Poised for Second Wave of Growth”, see