Saturday, January 24, 2009

Intellectual Oppression

If you were a subsistence farmer in Kenya and you were in desperate need of money, would you consider mortgaging your future? After all, if you don't risk your future, you may not even have one.

Here's what you can do:

The Rockerfeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation think that the 'Green Revolution' in other developing countries was so good, they want to see another one and this time they want it to include Kenya and other African countries. Never mind that countries who experienced the first green revolution now realise what a terrible mistake it was.

These philanthropic parties are spending millions of dollars to ensure that poor farmers can purchase genetically modified (GB) seeds so that they can plant a green revolution in their own fields.

Don't get caught up in the argument about how GM crops could damage your health. People who oppose those arguments only want to catch you out by asking what evidence there is for health risks. Of course, there may be health risks, GM organisms have not been shown to be safe for human consumption. But that is not even the most important concern about GM.

If you buy GM seeds, you must buy the appropriate herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to ensure the 'benefits' promised by the manufacturers. Yes, they manufacture the seeds, the pesticides, the fertilizers and the stories about how GM is good for your health, the environment and just about everything else.

In fact Agra (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) also claim to be aiming specifically at small farmers. GM crops and 'improved' agricultural methods are primarily aimed at big farmers, but hey, what's a little white lie here and there?

The only people that stand to benefit from GM are the manufacturers of GM products. Oh, and those who have a financial interest in GM companies. Maybe these esteemed philanthropic parties have such a financial interest, maybe they don't. But it's big, powerful, rich people and companies that make a lot of money; you, I and small farmers only stand to lose. By the time said parties have made themselves even richer, most land will be depleted and contaminated, it will lack diversity, it will be as far from organic as it can possibly be and we will find it very difficult to reverse what they have got us into.

Farms surrounding those growing GM crops will also be contaminated. This contamination will come from cross pollination and run-off that carries toxic substances to other farms and into the water supply. Farmers who buy into GM are not just mortgaging their own future, they also mortgage the futures of their neighbours.

Does it sound dramatic to say 'mortgage your future'? Well, if you are a farmer, you are probably used to the process of growing crops and taking advantage of the way you can keep some seed each year. This can be used to grow the next years crops and you can even be selective, to preserve the best qualities in your crops.

Sorry, but you are not permitted to collect seed and grow more GM crops next year. Some GM crops are not even appropriate for this process. You will owe the GM manufacturer money because the seeds are a piece of intellectual property, you must pay for it. Even your neighbours could be found guilty of infringing GM companies’ copyright, even though they didn't take the king's ransom!

Ok, you can, slowly, get rid of some of the GM contamination. You can start afresh, growing wholesome non-GM crops. Well, maybe you can. You will already have played a part in reducing the biodiversity on your land and on surrounding lands. In fact, herbicides and pesticides used on GM crops kill everything, plant and animal, but that GM crop. This is one of the things that GM producers like to boast about.

But if you replace the GM soya with non-GM soya because you find it is not as productive as it says on the packet, you may be in for a nasty surprise. If the 'non-GM' crop is found to contain some of the GM manufacturer's intellectual property you are still liable to pay for it. Which is fantastic…if you’re a GM company.

The Rockerfeller and Gates Foundations may well do some great work, they may well fund many laudable projects but that shouldn't stop people from scrutinising what they fund. GM crops are not in any sense laudable and the fact that so much money is being spent on trying to get people to grow them should sound alarm bells.

As a rule of thumb, where intellectual property is involved, the interests of the rich are being served. If someone tries to tell you that poor people will benefit, check their credentials very carefully.

This is another example of Development by Omission, where developing countries would be a lot better off if they didn't receive this 'donation' from the rich and powerful. It's a lot more subtle, but also far more damaging than stealing maize intended for starving Kenyans. And it's not even considered to be a crime. Not yet, anyhow.



Anonymous said...

Hi~are u a doctor,researcher or a volunteer?

Simon said...

Hi. I'm a researcher/volunteer.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Chinese,so sorry 4 my poor English first~

i was infected some kind of virus,13 months past,i met lot of doctor,they can't find why~
and i pass the virus to so many people~
i think it is not HIV,but very similar,could u help me contact any research institute,or just any suggestion information
it is more likely CFS,but it is contagious,it make me bewilder

Simon said...

Hi, I'm really sorry to hear that but I am not in a position to advise you. Also, I don't think the internet is the best place to ask people as you don't know who is replying! I hope you find someone who can help. Regards S

Anonymous said...

yes,i think so,but i'm a chinese,it's a problem

thanks all the same