Egypt denies banning GMO crop imports


August 13, 2009

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s agriculture minister has not issued a decision to ban the import of genetically modified crops, the state news agency MENA said on Thursday, denying an earlier report.

The agency quoted an unnamed official at the Agriculture Ministry as stating that earlier reports citing Amin Abaza ordering that a certificate accompany all imports to show they were free of genetically modified materials were "not correct."

The original report of the decision was published by MENA on Wednesday and picked up by other media.

Egypt is one of the world’s largest wheat importers and also imports other products such as corn, edible oils and sugar. It exports products such as vegetables and fruits, particularly to Europe.

Traders had expressed surprise at the move, saying some of Egypt’s main food imports at the moment included genetically modified products, especially soyoil and corn.

The debate in Egypt over food quality has become politically heated after some Russian wheat was rejected over quality concerns. Members of parliament have been calling for stricter rules and greater agricultural self-sufficiency.

(Reporting by Maha El Dahan, Editing by Peter Blackburn)

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