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LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Two U.S. lawmakers urged Zambia to accept an American donation of corn Friday to ease massive starvation, despite concerns that it might contain genetically modified grain.

``We are here to offer help in an emergency situation,'' Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Ala., said. ``The food is here and the food is much needed now in Zambia.''

Hilliard and Rep. Eva Clayton, D-N.C., said the corn was safe and was eaten everyday by people in the United States.

About 12.8 million people in six southern African countries face severe hunger this year, according to the World Food Program. But three of them _ Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique _ have said they may not accept U.S. food donations because it may be genetically modified.

Zambia is afraid that the modified corn, if planted instead of eaten, could contaminate other corn with its genes. It says that make it difficult for Zambia to export agricultural products to the European Union, which bans the sale of any new engineered products.

The United States has repeatedly defended the safety of the grain, which is modified to produce higher yields and protect against pests.

Zambian officials said they would meet with experts, local groups and the World Food Program on Monday to decide whether to accept tens of thousands of tons of donated U.S. corn.

Hilliard and Clayton were on a tour of the region to assess the relief needs of the affected countries. The United States is by far the largest donor of food to help alleviate the crisis.