Controversy over genetically modified (GM) food aid arose in 2000 in Latin America, and Asia, and exploded in 2002, when several southern African countries refused GM food aid during a food crisis. Now, in 2004 the controversy has erupted again after Sudan and Angola imposed restrictions over GM food aid. Food aid has been heavily criticized in the last fifty years, because it serves the interests of certain countries, particularly the US Government, as a tool to inter alia facilitate export surpluses and/or capture new markets. The use of GM food aid by the US has added a new dimension to the debate, because the provision of GM food aid is seen as providing an important back- door entry point for the introduction of genetically modified organism (GMOs) in developing countries.
On the 19th of January 2004 Monsanto announced it had approached the South African government with permission to import its genetically engineered (GE) wheat, known as Round-up Ready wheat, in an obvious pre-emptive attempt to create a much needed market for its GE wheat, because none exists anywhere in the world. This comes at a time when Monsanto is faced with falling profits and increasing consumer aversion to GE foods.