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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) _ Malawi said any genetically modified food aid sent to the country must be processed before it's distributed.

The announcement thos week echoed concerns by other southern African countries threatened by looming famine about accepting food that has been genetically modified.

President Bakili Muluzi said he was concerned that if the grain wasn't milled first it might cross-pollinate with native crops, causing ``genetic pollution.''

A severe food shortage is threatening more than 3 million people in Malawi. About 10 million others in the region also face starvation.

Citing potential health risks, Zambia has rejected any food aid that may have been genetically modified. Mozambique and Zimbabwe have policies dictating that any genetically modified grain has to be milled first.

Researchers splice bacteria genes that produce natural insecticides, drought resistance and other commercial properties into crops like corn and soy.

Farmers in the United States, the main food assistance donor, grow genetically modified crops extensively.