Biotech corporations and mega-charities are
promoting the GMO agenda as US foreign policy, and it must be stopped. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
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The GM clause to food security
The US Global Food Security Act of 2009 (S.
384) sponsored by Richard Lugar (Indiana, Republican), Robert Casey (Pennsylvania,
Democrat) and seven other US Senators in February 2009 is [1, 2] “A bill to
authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to provide
assistance to foreign countries to promote food security, to stimulate rural
economies, and to improve emergency response to food crises, to amend the
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and for other purposes.”
proposed amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961 has proven
controversial. It would “include research on biotechnological advances
appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified
bill is supported by the US land grant colleges as well as InterAction (American Council for Voluntary International Action) and
its 26 member organizations including WWF, Oxfam, Bread for the World CARE,
Save the Children, and ONE . The bill was passed through the Senate foreign
Relations Committee on 31 March 2009, and the Senate is expected to vote on it
soon in 2010.
to GM mandate
In April 2010, 140 civil
society groups, scientists, and development experts signed an open letter to US
Senators, urging them to “strip the GM mandate” from the Global Food Security
Act . While the petitioners applaud the bill’s intention to reform
aid programmes to focus on longer-term agricultural development and restructure
aid agencies to better respond to crises, they object to the clause effectively
earmarking one agricultural technology – genetic modification - for billions of
dollars in federal funding. US$7.7 billion goes with the bill, and no other
farming methods or technologies are mentioned.
Not surprisingly, Monsanto has
lobbied the hardest to support the bill. The US company is the world’s leader in
the increasingly concentrated agricultural biotech industry, which is already subject
to an anti-trust inquiry (see  US Farmers Oppose
'Big Ag' in Anti-Trust Hearing, SiS 46). Monsanto is likely
to benefit most from the new research funding stream, and to profit from its patented
products (both GM seeds and pesticides).
The petitioning groups represent
the anti-hunger, family farms, farm-workers, consumers and those practicing and
supporting sustainable agriculture. The letter delivered urges the Senate to
reject the bill until it is made technology-neutral, and calls for agricultural
research funding to concentrate on addressing local challenges faced by
small-scale farmers, instead of mandating a specific and narrow technological
fix, particularly one with little prospect of success and increasingly rejected
by countries around the world.
“Independent science tells us
that genetically modified (GM) crops have neither increased yield nor reduced
hunger in the world,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist of Pesticide
Action Network. “The most credible and comprehensive assessments of agriculture
to date say that if we want to end global poverty and hunger, we’ll need to
focus on increasing the biodiversity and ecological resilience of small-scale
Mariam Mayet of the African
Center for Biosafety based in South Africa pointed out that pressure to import
GM crops is wreaking havoc on local economies in Africa.“In South Africa, we are now dumping GM corn into other countries, disrupting local markets and
undermining the livelihoods of family farmers there. As a result,
Zimbabwe has imposed a ban on GM corn imports, and Kenya, which has a bumper
crop of GM-free corn and doesn’t need any imports, is now grappling with a
massive, illegal and unwanted shipment of 280 000 metric tons of GM corn from
South Africa. A handful of powerful agribusinesses’ obsession with GM is
pitting African countries against each other, with Monsanto and international
grain traders reaping the benefits and ordinary farmers losing out. The last
thing we need from the US is a bill legislating yet more money for GM crops.”
“At the end of the day, the GM
mandate has more to do with breaking open markets for American biotech
corporations than fighting hunger,” explained Annie Shattuck of the Institute
for Food and Development Policy. “To get at the root of the global hunger
crisis, we need to tackle poverty, something no technological silver bullet can
Ben Burkett, President of National
Family Farm Coalition and Mississippi family farmer, added, “Corporate control
over inputs and the free trade agenda have destroyed the livelihoods of so many
farmers at home and abroad. That’s why farmers worldwide are calling for food
sovereignty—the right to choose fair and sustainable farming practices that
protect our local food and livelihood security. This is what works best for our
farms and communities.”
interests of big business, big philanthropy and US foreign aid
A closer look reveals how
the Global Food Security Act is designed to promote the interlocking interests
of big business, big philanthropy, US foreign policy and US aid, as AGRA Watch
AGRA Watch was founded in 2008
to challenge the Gates Foundation’s participation in Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (see  Beware the New
"Doubly Green Revolution", SiS 37), and to support
instead, sustainable, agro-ecological alternatives already practiced in Africa.
In his opening
statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee , Senator Lugar
argued that worldwide food security is critical to US national security,
especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan where he says hunger has fuelled
conflict and extremism He believes that agricultural development in these
‘troubled’ regions will ensure more peaceful conditions, and he is “excited by
[the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s] vision” and their “beneficence”.
Bill Gates and
Bill Clinton have both expressed their support for Lugar-Casey bill before the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
points out that the Lugar-Casey bill overlooks key findings of the
International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), initiated by United Nations agencies and the World Bank,
and involved over four hundred scientists and representatives from governments
and civil society organizations around the world . The IAASTD found that
agro-ecological methods (research, extension and farming) offer enormous potential,
and that a multi-faceted approach to agriculture is needed, rather than a
narrow focus on GM technologies (see  “GM-Free Organic
Agriculture to Feed the World”, SiS 38).
Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation are partners in AGRA, and are also
involved in numerous other projects aimed at spreading GMOs in Africa. InterAction works closely with the Gates Foundation, ostensibly to help small
farmers improve their livelihoods through more productive agriculture,
breakthrough technologies, and better markets .
Foundation gave US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to
set up a ‘Biosafety Resource Network’ , which focuses on the use of “appropriate
technologies to increase nutrients in local crops” and serves as “a blueprint
for other institutions and companies seeking to introduce nutritionally
enhanced crops in the countries that will most benefit from approving and
enhancement’ is indeed a major area of GM development, the most notorious being
the ‘Golden Rice’ engineered to express pro-vitamin A in the rice endosperm, which
was exposed as a costly and morally bankrupt public relations exercise for the
GM industry [13, 14] (The 'Golden
Rice', An Exercise in How Not to Do Science, ISIS Report; The Golden Rice Scandal
Unfolds, SiS 42). Genetic modification for nutritional enhancement
has been re-launched as ‘metabolic engineering’ in recent years, and our review
has indicated that it would introduce other health hazards (see  GM Crops and Microbes for Health or
Public Health Hazards? SiS 32).
AGRA Watch , the Danforth Center receives key funding from Monsanto Fund,
the ‘philanthropic’ arm of Monsanto Company; and its main goals includes ‘Nutritional
Improvement through Agriculture’.
The agenda of biotech
corporations and mega philanthropies are clearly linked to each other and to US policy. More accurately, perhaps, the common agenda of corporations and mega
philanthropies is turned into US policy, thereby gaining legitimacy and
enormous influence over the rest of the world.
Stepping up the deadly GMO agenda when
GM crops are failing
The Global Food Security Act is clearly a
desperate attempt to step up the aggressive agenda of pushing GMOs to Africa
when GM crops are failing all over the world, especially in the USA, the
heartland of GM. Major crops genetically modified for just two traits –
herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – are ravaged by super weeds and
secondary pests, and farmers are fighting a losing battle with more sprays and increasingly
toxic chemicals  (GM Crops Facing
Meltdown in the USA, SiS 46).
The same is
happening in China. The mirid bug has emerged as a serious secondary pest with
outbreaks in multiple crops correlated with wide spread adoption of Bt cotton
The situation is
bad enough for farmers in the United States and China; but it is deadly in
India, where farmers do not have any state subsidies, unlike their counterparts
in the USA and China, and many are already caught in a cycle of indebtedness
from the ‘green revolution' agriculture that depends on high chemical inputs.
Bt cotton, approved for commercial planting in 2003, spread rapidly throughout
the country despite strenuous protests from farmer and consumers. Crop failures
or bad harvests for two successive seasons on top of the exorbitant costs of GM
seeds would be enough to build up debt to a level that drives farmers to take
their own lives.
The Bt cotton
crisis in India has galvanised the entire nation to oppose the introduction of
Monsanto's Bt brinjal (egg-plant). In response, Indian Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh carried out a nation-wide consultation, at the end of which, he
announced a moratorium on commercial planting until further health and
environmental safety tests can be conducted  (Bt Brinjal Halted, SiS
46). Ramesh achieved the status of a national hero for standing up to intense
pressure from the USA and its agents that had already manipulated India's national Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) to approve commercial
planting of Bt brinjal . Ramesh pointedly renamed GEAC to Genetic
Engineering Appraisal Committee on announcing the moratorium.
Along with the
unfolding ecological disasters is accumulating evidence of adverse health
impacts, both of which have been predicted by critics right from the start, as
described in my book Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare first published in 1997 . The health hazards, both inherent to
the genetic modification technology and specific to transgenes involved, have
been corroborated both by the limited number of experiments independent scientists
are able to conduct in the laboratory with inadequate support, and by
experiences of farm and other workers in the fields, as documented in a dossier
of reports  GM Science Exposed. (ISIS CD book). Sicknesses
and deaths have occurred in fields where people and livestock were exposed to
GM crops. In the laboratory, whenever and wherever independent scientists
perform feeding trials, they find increased deaths, sterility, stunting, and a
range of organ dysfunction, regardless of the transgenic crop or transgenes
involved, and in a variety of animal species. The same disturbing findings
emerge when independent scientists have been able to reanalyse raw data
submitted by companies for transgenic varieties that have been approved as
‘substantially equivalent’ to and hence as safe as the non-GM counterparts.
This applies to the data submitted for Bt brinjal that gained commercial
approval  (see Bt Brinjal Unfit for Human
Consumption, SiS 41) before the moratorium
In his detailed report announcing the Bt brinjal moratorium
, Ramesh highlighted organic non-pesticide management as superior to the Bt
technology, for it eliminates the use of pesticides altogether. It is clear
that for India, as for the United States and China, the only rational exit from
the ecological crisis is to switch comprehensively to organic, non-GM
agriculture, as recommended by the IAASTD [9, 10] and ISIS report  Food Futures Now:
*Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free .
No GMOs for Africa
In challenging the Lugar-Casey bill, Eric
Holt-Gimenez, executive director of Food First, said : “Past public-private
partnerships on GM crops for Africa have proven to be colossal failures. The
failed GM sweet potato project between Monsanto, USAID and a Kenyan research
institute is a good example of fourteen years’ worth of wasted money and
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the
Syngenta Foundation are jointly funding the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa
Project (IRMA), at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) . IRMA,
KARI, and the International Maize and Wheat Centre (CIMMYT) are currently
preparing to release genetically modified maize on a large scale to Kenyan
farmers in 2011, with a ‘pre-release’ set for 2010.
In January 2010,
Dreyfus Commodities Ltd, an international grain handling company, received an
export permit from South Africa to bring 40 000 metric tons of GM maize
varieties into Kenya. In April, South Africa authorised another 240 000 tonnes
after GM opponents blocked the initial shipment in the port of Mombasa 
When the Kenyan
government opened a window for importing duty-free maize in late 2009, it was predicated
on anticipated food shortage  However, at the time of the recent
importation, Kenya was experiencing a bumper harvest of cereals. In early April
2010, MP John Mututho, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture,
protested the importation, arguing that  “The government should buy the
surplus maize from the farmers. We have maize rotting in farms...As the
Parliamentary Select Committee chairman on agriculture, I willlead a protest
and the people who are importing ... should take back this maize.” Mututho
echoes the concerns of civil society groups: Kenya does not need to import
grain, and there has not been an adequate assessment of the potential risks of
GMOs to human and environmental health.
Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC), an alliance of nearly seventy organisations
from farming, animal welfare, youth and other sectors, have expressed similar
concerns. In response to the major influx of imported grain, the KBioC asked: :
Why did the government extend the window to import duty free maize when farmers
in Kenya are struggling with lack of storage facilities and low prices of their
recently harvested cereals?” This question supports the repeated calls for a
critical exposé of the political and economic forces involved in GM technology,
food aid, and agricultural development in Africa.
learn from the lessons of GMO disasters in USA, India, China, and elsewhere around the world, and stay clear of GMOs.
People in the USA should make sure their Senators vote to remove the GMO clause from the Global Food
Security Act. The rest of us will do our utmost to resist the corporate GMO
agenda disguised as US policy and mega-philanthropy.
22. Ho MW. Genetic Engineering Dream of Nightmare? The Brave New
World of Bad Science and Big Business, Research Foundation for Science
Technology & Ecology & Third World Network, Third World Network (TWN),
Gateway Books, MacMillan, Continuum, New Delhi, Penang, Malaysia, Bath, UK,
Dublin, Ireland, New York, USA, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007 (reprint with extended
Introduction TWN). http://www.i-sis.org.uk/genet.php
sharon Comment left 21st June 2010 18:06:05 Record number of Indian-Americans seeking office in congress
The next wave of corporate US slum dog millionaires
The United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC [www.usinpac.com]) was formally formed as an Indian American lobby group in September 2002. Since then it has managed to attract a surprising amount of attention. In a short span of time it has made its presence felt on Capitol Hill. It has acquired political access by buying power breakfasts with Senators like Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch. It also throws 'power luncheons' for Senate and House Committee staffers. But it wasn't just the money that bought it the US politician's attention. USINPAC has been hoisted to its success by two very influential Jewish lobbies, the American-Jewish Committee (AJC) and the American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC).
Theresa Comment left 29th June 2010 19:07:41 The Grain briefing Soils of War makes interesting reading and is very illuminating!
The real agenda behind agricultural reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq
Yes we need a critical exposé of the political and economic forces involved in GM technology, food aid, and agricultural development in Africa.
I have read William F Engdahl's "Seeds of Destruction" and Linda Polman's "War Games". Does not Senetor Lugar know that the US power elites have caused much of the extremism. The US needs to look at their Foregin Policy and their domination of the WTO etc.
AllenX Comment left 2nd July 2010 11:11:50
Foods budgets are expected to increase within the upcoming five years and individuals currently devote a huge amount of cash on foods.
Experts have warned that poverty and hunger will rise if there will be an increase in the prices of food. Of course, hunger will be rampant if food will not be affordable for everyone especially in the third world countries.
The recent world food price crisis highlights what many have thought for a long time: the world’s food and agriculture system is broken.So what will take place when this raise really occurs. The majority of protein people get comes from the meat in their diet, which they invest about 40% of their food budget on alone.
susan Comment left 21st June 2010 18:06:05 Of course, there are many problems that the rich might turn their hand to. Global warming caused by a world obsession with fossil fuels; pollution caused by unthinking industrial development; victims of war caused by fighting over resources like diamonds and gold, or even helping the millions of victims of the great recession triggered by the excesses of the finance industry. All of which prompts a, perhaps, uncharitable thought. It would be wonderful if the rich helped sort out the world's problems. It would be even more wonderful if some had not benefited so much from creating them in the first place.
susan Comment left 21st June 2010 18:06:39
Billionaires plan to put the world to rights following secret supper
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are among those signing up to the greatest private donation in history
* Paul Harris in New York
* The Observer, Sunday 20 June 2010
* Article history
Billionaires plan to put the world to rights following secret supper
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are among those signing up to the greatest private donation in history
It was a dinner meeting that fed the appetites of the world's conspiracy theorists just as much as those sitting down to eat. Held in May 2009 at a secret location in New York, the meal was a meeting between some of the globe's richest billionaires, organised by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
A year later, we know what they were talking about. Not taking over the world, but working out ways to give away billions of dollars.
Full details of the secret meeting have emerged in an article in Fortune. The magazine has revealed a guest list that included well-known billionaires such as Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner and Michael Bloomberg, sitting alongside lesser-known lights of the über-wealthy such as Eli and Edythe Broad and John and Tashia Morgridge. According to the magazine, the aim of the meeting was to sow the seeds of philanthropy among the wealthiest people in the world with the hope that they would pass it on to other like-minded souls. And this would not be small-scale giving. No, this would be donations that would seriously impact the pockets of even the most wealthy.
The meeting was called the "first supper". There have been, according to Fortune, second and third suppers since then. Finally, a strategy has emerged around a "pledge" whereby billionaires who sign up promise to give away 50% of their net worth. If it works, the group will be the greatest private philanthropic effort in history.