Tag Archives: World Hunger

The Greed Revolution

ETC Group
News Release
18 January 2012
www.etcgroup.org

Big Agribusiness Influence Threatens to Override Public Interest in Greed Revolution

A new 30-page report that documents the growing influence of agribusiness on the multilateral food system and the lack of transparency in research funding has been released today by the international civil society organization ETC Group. The Greed Revolution: Mega Foundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods presents three case studies – one involving the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and two involving CGIAR Centers (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) – which point to a dangerous trend that will worsen rather than solve the problem of global hunger. The report details the involvement of, among others, Nestlé, Heineken, Monsanto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Syngenta Foundation. Continue reading

Must view – global citizens report on GMOs

According to a just released report with input from 20 citizens’ organizations, GMOs are bad news – as reported in the London Guardian: “Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of “superweeds”, according to a report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people.” You can read the Guardian article and download the report at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/19/gm-crops-insecurity-superweeds-pesticides?newsfeed=true

Organic practices can feed the world

Be not troubled by Robert Paarlberg’s scaremongering. Organic practices can feed the world — better, in fact, than wasteful industrial farming.

In May 2004, Catherine Badgley, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan, took her students on a research trip to an organic farm near their campus. Standing on the acre-and-a-half farm, Badgley asked the farmer, Rob MacKercher, how much food he produces annually. “Twenty-seven tons,” he said. Badgley did the quick math: That’s enough to provide 150 families one pound of produce every single day of the year.

“If he can grow that quantity on this tiny parcel,” Badgley wondered, “why can’t organic agriculture feed the world?” That question was the genesis of a multi-year, multidisciplinary study to explore whether we could, indeed, feed the world with organic, sustainable methods of farming. The results? A resounding yes.

Unfortunately, you don’t hear about this study, or others with similar findings, in “Attention Whole Foods Shoppers,” Robert Paarlberg’s defense of industrial agriculture in the new issue of Foreign Policy. Instead, organic agriculture, according to Paarlberg, is an “elite preoccupation,” a “trendy cause” for “purist circles.” Sure, sidling up to a Whole Foods in your Lexus SUV and spending $24.99 on artisan fromage may be the trappings of a privileged foodie, but there’s an SUV-sized difference between obsessing about the texture of your goat cheese and arguing for a more sustainable food system. Despite Paarlberg’s pronouncements, Badgley’s research, along with much more evidence, helps us see that what’s best for the planet and for people — especially small-scale farmers who are the hungriest among us — is a food system based on agroecological practices. What’s more, Paarlberg’s impressive-sounding statistics veil the true human and ecological cost we are paying with industrial agriculture.

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Conservative Party makes huge blunder in GMO email

Written by April Reeves, Director, GE Free BC

I was forwarded this email today from a colleague. It’s a response from Conservative MP Alice Wong regarding their stance on Bill C-474. This response clearly states how little the Conservative party thinks about our rights, freedom, and intelligence. Read on:

Dear Alice Wong, MP, Richmond, Conservative Party,

On April 28, 2010, you sent a response to a fellow named ‘Bruno Vernier’ regarding Bill C-474. I would like to remind you of this email, and I have a few comments about your response you should hear. Your email:

Dear Bruno,

You are absolutely correct that we are to represent the citizens of Richmond,

and that most of the e-mails we received asked us to vote for C-474. However,

our Parliamentary system isn’t totally based on referendum or constituency

majority wishes.  An MP isn’t just elected to a “puppet” of the electorate.

They are elected for their ability to lead as well as for their willingness to

follow consensus.  Yes, a good MP works hard at listening to his or her

consitutents and representing them well.  But by electing an MP, constituents

are also placing on them a mantle of authority, a “trust quotient” if you

will, to go to Ottawa and vote as they see best on issues of national

importance.  This may not always be the “popular” position and ultimately each

MP faces accountability for that at the election booth.  But they will also

run for reelection on their expertise and skill, not just on being a “puppet”

of constituents’ wishes. Parliamentary democracy has a lot of nuances to it

and there are some grey areas in how it plays itself out on the daily

political arena. The main objective of both sides was to support Canadian

farmers, and we listened to the large number of farmers who asked the

government to defeat this bill.

Voting against the C-474 was not an attempt to stifle debate over the issue.

Back in October 27, 2009, the Agriculture Committee passed a motion to study

genetically modified organisms, and the first hearing on the subject was held

on December 3. We agree that we should have a debate on the issue of GMOs in

committee; approving the substance of the bill in principle was not necessary

to facilitate that debate.

Although we have two differing opinions on the issue, I wish to thank you for

your civility and sharp grasp of the issues you advocate. We receive many

generic e-mails asking for support for different issues, but only a few take

the time to share their personal views and articulate them so well. Thank you

for dialoguing with us.

All the best,

Micah Au, Constituency Office of Alice Wong, MP for Richmond

– – –

Lets start at the beginning.

First off, you DO in fact work for the people who voted you in. It’s called Democracy, a term the Conservatives have forgotten about.

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Monsanto Faces Rising Grassroots Opposition in South Africa

Posted April 15th, 2010 by Anonymous

By Nombulelo Siqwana-Ndulo (PhD)

Multinational seed and chemical companies looking to gain a new customer base in Africa are facing increasing resistance from both farmers and consumers. Nonetheless, they are making inroads by partnering with African institutions and governments that are eager to ‘modernize’ their agricultural sectors. South Africa is of particular importance in this regard. The country has gone against the grain of general distrust of GMOs in Africa to become a gateway for the distribution of GM food aid; the commercialization and export of GM seeds; and experimentation with GM crops not approved elsewhere.[i]

But here too, they face mounting opposition. In July 2009, for instance, the South African government rejected the commercial release application for GM potatoes after the Executive Council, a government licensing body, concluded that the toxicology studies were “inadequate, scientifically poorly designed and fundamentally flawed.” It was also reported that, in 2008/2009, 80% of Monsanto’s GM maize in South Africa failed to produce a crop, leading critics to call for urgent investigation and a ban on all GM foods.

In 2002, the South African government, in partnership with U.S.-based biotech firm Monsanto, launched the so-called Massive Food Production Program (MFPP) in the country’s Eastern Cape Province. The Eastern Cape is characterized by a dual economy in which the western half of the province (previously white South Africa under apartheid) is dominated by commercial agriculture while the eastern half consists of subsistence agriculture. After the advent of democracy in 1994, there was tremendous pressure to develop the rural economy here.

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Reason triumphs over Bt brinjal!

February 23, 2010

By embargoing Bt brinjal, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh may have done a greater service to democracy than he intended, says Praful Bidwai.

April: Why can’t our governments take a page from India? Although North America is fairly entrenched in GM crops, this story does offer hope to those of us that actively march against GMO. India is fighting for their right to choose what to grow, and won’t allow the government to cease their voices. Bt Cotton’s failure was good timing….

India has done something unusual in defying the long-established trend of capitulating to corporate power.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh must be complimented for imposing a moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) brinjal (or baigan, also called aubergine and eggplant) developed by Mahyco-Monsanto in collaboration with two Indian agricultural universities.

He deserves encomiums for consulting stakeholders in major brinjal-producing states like West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. This public consultation approach sets a good precedent. It deserves to become a model for governmental decision-making on all issues that concern people’s livelihoods.

To appreciate the moratorium rationally, one need not go as far as former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology P M Bhargava did in euphorically describing it as “the single most important decision taken by any minister since Independence”.

Yet, it couldn’t have been easy to take in the face of feverish lobbying by Monsanto, one of the world’s most powerful multinationals.

Monsanto, which controls 84 per cent of the global GM seeds market and has a long reach in the United States and Indian governments, lobbied for Bt brinjal in league with other biotechnology companies and groups of plant breeders with a stake in developing GM foods.

They were backed by major sections of the corporate media which fervently campaigned for Bt brinjal and celebrated all GM technology as safe and unproblematic and as the key to India’s food security.

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Very informative video on GM issues

This video is 1:25 long, but it has various opinions and sides to the GM debate: it’s interesting how the Pro-GM debate is starting to sound very weak, and amazes me that they still believe it’s the only way for us to eat and will feed the world. Give it up guys, we KNOW that’s just not happening.

GM TV

Free Movie Screening in Richmond BC

If you’re in the area you might want to take this in:

Bloomberg India Rejects First GM Vegetable, Hampering Monsanto Expansion

February 09, 2010, 09:04 AM EST

By Jay Shankar and Thomas Kutty Abraham

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — India’s government rejected the nation’s first genetically modified food after protests by farmers, hampering the expansion of seed makers including Monsanto Co. in the world’s second-most populous nation.

“There is no overriding food security argument for Bt brinjal,” or genetically modified eggplant, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference in the capital, New Delhi. “Our objective is to restore public confidence and trust in Bt brinjal.” A moratorium will be imposed until safety studies are carried out “to the satisfaction of the scientific community,” he said.

Ramesh, 55, had to balance the technology’s promise to help feed a nation growing by 18 million people a year, more than the population of the Netherlands, and concern that food safety and threats to biodiversity have not been investigated. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, supplied the gene for the vegetable and introduced genetically modified cotton in India eight years ago.

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10 reasons why GM won’t feed the world

From the Urban Sprout

1. Failure to deliver
Genetic modification, despite PR hype, consistently fails to live up to industry claims. Only two GM traits have ever made it to market: herbicide resistance and BT toxin expression. Other promises of genetic modification, such as the much vaunted “golden rice”, have failed to materialise. In 2004, the Kenyan government admitted that Monsanto’s GM sweet potatoes were no more resistant to feathery mottle virus than ordinary strains, and in fact produced lower yields. In January 2008, news that scientists had modified a carrot to cure osteoporosis by providing calcium had to be offset against the fact that you would need to eat 1.6 kilograms of these vegetables each day to meet your recommended calcium intake.

2. Costing the Earth
GM crops are costing farmers and governments more money than they are making. In a 2003 report by the Soil Association the cost to the US economy of GM crops was estimated at around $12 billion since 1999, on account of inflated farm subsidies, loss of export orders and various seed recalls. A study in Iowa found that GM soyabeans required all the same costs as conventional farming but, because they produced lower yields, the farmers ended up making no profit at all. In India, an independent study found that BT cotton crops were costing farmers 10 per cent more than non-BT variants and bringing in 40 per cent lower profits. Between 2001 and 2005, more than 32,000 Indian farmers committed suicide, most as a result of mounting debts caused by inadequate crops.

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Anderson Cooper: Mother Earth actually has the capacity to feed her people

By April Reeves

Anderson Cooper reports on a series by David Gewirtz, author of “How To Save Jobs“. David suggests the following:

From AC360: Next up was a look at grain consumption. Grain has always been an indicator of even the most basic of civilization, so a look at how the middle-classing of developing countries would affect the food supply based on grain usage seemed appropriate.

This time, I used data from the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture Production. Worldwide, humans consume about 1.9 billion metric tons of grain each year.

Today, the United States consumes about 287 million metric tons of grain, or about 14.8 percent of the world’s total supply.

China consumes slightly more than we do, at about 406 million metric tons of grain, or about 21 percent of the world’s supply.

India has a lot of starving people, and that shows in its grain use. India consumes only about 196 million metric tons of grain, about 10 percent of the world’s total. You can see India’s ups and downs written in the numbers. Some years, like 1993, their grain consumption went up 5.6 percent. But other years, like 2001, their grain consumption dropped by 4.3 percent. Neither of these are big fluctuations, but it does show some years Indian citizens ate a little more and other years, they ate a little less.

What if they consume grain at the same rate as we do here?

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Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit

From Jeffrey Smith: Responsible Technology.org

When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.

Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the first in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started…

Part 1 of 10

At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100% of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.

This was a bold new direction for Monsanto, which needed a big change to distance them from a controversial past. As a chemical company, they had polluted the landscape with some of the most poisonous substances ever produced, contaminated virtually every human and animal on earth, and got fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. According to a former Monsanto vice president, “We were despised by our customers.”

So they redefined themselves as a “life sciences” company, and then proceeded to pollute the landscape with toxic herbicide, contaminate the gene pool for all future generations with genetically modified plants, and get fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. Monsanto’s chief European spokesman admitted in 1999, “Everybody over here hates us.” Now the rest of the world is catching on.

“Saving the World” and Other Lies
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Interesting viewpoints on the future of food security

The following 2 posts were in the Western Producer. It’s interesting how Big Biotech’s are on this crusade to ‘feed the world’. I have commented many times both here and in speaking that they have no such intention. Poor people can’t buy food. Period. Finally, someone else shares my thoughts, only this time with a twist:

By Barry Wilson, Ottawa bureau
November 19, 2009

The marvel of 21st century science is that it seems to have almost no limit other than stilted imaginations.

The physical mysteries of life are revealed through genome mapping.

A rocket is crashed into the moon and water is discovered.

The laboratory has become nature-in-a-hurry, making discoveries that would have been science fiction a generation ago.

Now, if those brainiacs could just create a way to embed calories into empty rhetoric, the world’s billion hungry people would find their bellies growing from nutrition.

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Forbes.com names Monsanto ‘Company of the Year’

Monsanto has just been named “2009 Company of the Year” by Forbes Magazine. It’s an interesting read of a rather slanted version of the great things Monsanto does for the world, while leaving out the realities Monsanto has to deal with on a daily basis. Forbes obviously ignores the ruthless tactics of Monsanto, is afraid of losing ad revenue, or simply chooses to dish out frivolous content.

A comment from the article sums it up nicely:

This article is nothing more than a blatant PR attempt to divert from the fact that two circuit appeals court rulings stopped the planting of GM alfalfa and GM sugar beets.

It failed to address farmer suicides due to poverty brought on by the high prices of BT cotton and the contracts and patents on these seeds that bind poor farmers to them, causing many to commit suicide by drinking Round Up.

It fails to address the exacerbation of climate change and pollution through the deforestation of the Amazon and other Latin American countries to grow GM soy which is pushing small farmers off their land in lieu of creating mega monocultures that are not providing stable economies for poor farmers.

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Fabulous Food site – Yale Open Classes!

By April Reeves

This course encompasses the study of eating as it affects the health and well-being of every human. Topics include taste preferences, food aversions, the regulation of hunger and satiety, food as comfort and friendship, eating as social ritual, and social norms of blame for food problems. The politics of food discusses issues such as sustainable agriculture, organic farming, genetically modified foods, nutrition policy, and the influence of food and agriculture industries. Also examined are problems such as malnutrition, eating disorders, and the global obesity epidemic; the impact of food advertising aimed at children; poverty and food; and how each individual’s eating is affected by the modern environment. view class sessions >>

This is a brilliant series for anyone in any aspect of the food industry, especially the marketing videos. Each video is easy to load and all videos will have you thinking….

The Indian GM industry In Panic

By Devinder Sharma

18 December, 2009
Countercurrents.org

When the going gets tough, the loser’s panic. And the desperation grows.

Well, this is the story of the duo — Dr Ron Herring (from Cornell) and Dr Shantu Shantaram — doing the rounds across the country on behalf of the GM industry. After the New Delhi panel discussion organised by the Institute of Economic Growth on Dec 3, the duo went to Ahmedabad and from there to Thiruvanthapuram in Kerala.

You have probably read about the New Delhi meet, and the FAQs that come up again and again, on this blog earlier. Just in case you missed it, here is the link: http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.com/
2009/12/gm-denial-industry-cornell-university.html

My colleague Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty was in Thiruvanthapuram early this week and did manage to attend for sometime the two-day conference where both Ron Herring and Shantu Shantaram were present. She sends me this report.

I was in Kerala on a vacation last week and during that time came across this workshop on “Modern biotechnology in Indian Agriculture” (on Dec 13-14). This was organised under the banner of AICBA Delhi and FBAE Bangalore. This was a pro-GM industry conference, where Monsanto also made a presentation.

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Response to Western Producer newspaper: Greenpeace responsible for Triffid flax scandal

By April Reeves

I responded to this article in the ‘editorial’ on their Nov. 26/09 publication. It was written by 5 people. I wonder if the Producer is writing ‘nice’ things about Monsanto in order to continue their advertising. I owned a publication once; I know what that’s all about…

GM Acceptance/Opponents Fading

Positive signs for greater acceptance of GM foods, by Bruce Dyck, Terry Fries, Barb Glen, D’Arce Mcmillan and Ken Zacharias

GREENPEACE’S European campaign against genetically modified crops has hurt Canadian farmers. The organization pressured European authorities to test Canadian flax for the presence of unauthorized genetically altered seed and pressured mustard processors to avoid Canadian mustard seed.

Greenpeace got what it wanted in the Triffid flax situation, a trumped up “scandal” to rail against, to frighten consumers about the alleged dangers of GM crops and inadequate government regulation and oversight.

Canadian farmers got what they didn’t want, market disruption, lower prices and a costly new flax testing system.

But they might take hope in signs that European obstacles to trade in GM crops are eroding and Greenpeace’s anti-GM campaign will eventually fail.

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Iraq Order 81: Insane unbreakable legislation killing people?

By April Reeves, December 17 2009

The more research I do the more astounded I am that anyone has any sympathy for Monsanto (and the ‘others’). I’ve just unearthed a truth that shocked me.

I guess when Bush went into Iraq, they were interested in more than just oil. They went after food as well. Not sure why the media didn’t pick this up…

Order 81 cannot be overturned in any way for an indefinite amount of time. It is now illegal for Iraq farmers to plant seeds not ‘certified’ by some national authority. Original, traditional seeds cannot be cultivated anymore. This could be the real reason for so many suicides.

So it seems that the US is using Iraq as one big experiment. Clearly this is a case of ‘humans’ gone very wrong.

It seems to me, instead of savings bonds, we should start saving traditional seeds. They may be worth a fortune in the very near future. I know I have quite the little stash of heirloom seeds that I give away.

This is one of the best short videos I have seen: Monsanto’s reach even wider than we thought.

Additional resources:

Corporate Watch: IRAQ: CPA Order 81 Is Even Worse Than Originally Reported

Bremer’s Order 81

This is hilarious: Monsanto the ‘great crusader’ for switching opium fields for GM crops!

Livestock and Climate Change

Here’s a nifty little Livestock and Climate Change PDF on a suggestion that the key actors in climate change are…

Cows, Pigs and Chickens?

Check out the PDF and see if it doesn’t turn you into a vegetarian. Hopefully you will become an Organic vegetarian. Remember, Genetically Modified/Engineered animals create more methane and pollution than their natural counterparts.

Why so many people don’t buy into GE/GMO foods

MonsantoLandBy April Reeves

So what is it about GE/GMO foods that we are so against? Why can’t we just all calm down and allow these big corporations to go merrily along their way and plant the world? Perhaps the following insights might give you some understanding as to why consumers are moving away from Genetically Engineered foods.

Testing

I pick up the phone, I email, and I ask questions. I talk to Monsanto and the governments. Problem is, I can never get a black and white, yes or no answer.

If there are studies out there on the long-term effects (that show no harm) then why, WHY are we not privy to them? Surely a company with this wonderful data would be more than willing to share it with the world?

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Biotech Companies Walk out on Food Project

Corn bomb - genetic engineering of plants and animals is still untested long termwww.guardian.co.uk

Biotechnology companies developing genetically modified crops have withdrawn from a major international project to map out the future of agriculture, after it failed to back GM as a tool to reduce poverty and hunger.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development aims to focus attention on the problem of how to feed the world’s growing population, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has done for the challenge of global warming. Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF resigned after a draft report from the project highlighted the risks of GM crops and said they could pose problems for the developing world.

The companies argue the report should say their GM technology could secure future food supplies because it can boost yields and make plants more resistant to droughts and higher temperatures.

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