(Jamaica Gleaner) Jamaican schoolchildren are being fed a steady diet of genetically modified foods, with the full knowledge and consent of the State, exposing them to potential nutritional deficiencies and, in the process, marginalising local farmers, Audley Shaw, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, admitted yesterday.
“We feeding our children in our School Feeding Programme imported genetically modified flour and rice, when we can produce the foods that are of higher nutritional value, whether it is pumpkin, sweet potato, gluten-free cassava and gluten-free breadfruit,” Shaw said.
“We fooling around with our School Feeding Programme and our children are not getting adequate nutrition in schools. As a result of that, we have to start feeding our children grains, give them nutritious foods, and guess what the good news is? That we can produce it here.”
The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as products such as plants, animals or micro-organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally, by mating and/or natural recombination.
Shaw’s comments came during an address at Blast Off 2019, the annual motivational seminar of the Jamaica Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
URGENTLY CORRECT THE ISSUE
The agriculture minister used the occasion to declare that he would bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities with a view to having the situation corrected as a matter of urgency.
“I am putting forward a proposal to the prime minister and the minister of education that we cannot have the slogan ‘Grow What You Eat and Eat What You Grow’ and not start with our schools. Unacceptable! I am going to change that,” he declared.
In fact, Shaw said he was anticipating and preparing for detractors.
“Some people say, ‘But Mr Shaw, them going charge you more for the pumpkin and the sweet potato and the flour cheaper.’ Let me tell you something: We have to think outside the box. If it comes down to the Government providing a little extra subsidy so our children can be properly fed in schools, then that will be a good investment by the Government and people of Jamaica,” he adamantly stated.