Monday, March 28, 2011

Beware of Reassurances About Genetically Modified Organisms

In what may be an attempt to reassure the public, an article in Tanzania's Daily News says "Only South Africa and Egypt have potential to handle cultivation and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMO) [in Africa]". But this message comes from Dr Tesfai Tecle, a spokesman for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa's (AGRA) Kofi Annan.

Another of AGRA's token Africans, Dr Namanga Ngongi, goes further and says that GMOs are too complicated and sophisticated for countries like Tanzania to adopt. Tecle claims that AGRA's position is clear, that they "don't support genetically engineered seeds".

But this does not fully characterize AGRA's position on GMO because their own website says they "do not preclude future funding for genetic engineering as an approach to crop variety improvement when it is the most appropriate tool to address an important need of small-scale farmers and when it is consistent with government policy".

AGRA is the joint spawn of the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, neither of which are in any way averse to GMOs. The former has invested millions in Monsanto and the latter, despite making some claims to be sceptical at one time and funding some 'research' into the subject, are 100% behind GMOs.

Proponents of GMOs often talk about 'feeding the world' and 'food security', yet these two particular proponents are also very keen eugenicists. They are particularly in favor of people in developing countries having fewer children, since to their institutions, development means little more than population control.

So, there is no contradiction between between supporting GMOs and being a eugenicist, despite the fact that successful eugenics would lead to fewer mouths to feed. Because GMOs are, ultimately, for those who can afford them. Whether they are paid for by public or private money is immaterial. The claim that GMOs can actually play a part in improving the lives of the poor is just a popular myth used by the industry.

The advantage of GMOs is not that they are cheaper, they are not. Yields are not better. They cannot, despite the publicity material, grow in sup-optimum conditions, they are not more nutritious, they do not have special qualities, such as drought or salinity resistance, or anything else.

The sole advantage is that they are owned by a handful of the world's most powerful food multinationals. If the world's seeds, or as many of them as possible, could be replaced by GMOs, these multinationals would control the world's food supply. Proponents of GMOs may mention small-scale farmers, the poor and starving, Africans and what not, but GM seeds are not owned by any of these groups and they never will be.

Which leads to another reassuring story that doesn't seem so reassuring when you look at it closely, the US Government's Feed the Future program, about to decend on Tanzania. The literature is too polite to mention GMOs but wait till you see the list of private partners:

Archer Daniels Midland, BASF (Zyklon-B), Bunge Limited, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company (Agent Orange), Nestle (Baby Milk), PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart, and Yara International.

This is not a list of the world's best known bleeding-hearts. And in among the bloodless hearts, in addition to its large investment in Monsanto, the Gates Foundation can be found listed as a donor and AGRA gets a few honorable mentions. Reassurances that GMOs will not be unleashed on unsuspecting and defenceless developing countries should be interpreted to mean something quite contrary to what they say.


No comments: