Friday, September 3, 2010

philanthropy ....but at what cost?

Some of you will have been reading about Africa and philanthropy for agricultural projects. Looks like the plots thickens...and it isn't good reading my mind!

child with plow
Photo by vredeseilanden, Creative Commons
The following article was written by an academic and agroecologist Eric Holt Gimenez and posted at Civil Eats. All articles at this site are available to share.

Paula Crossfield is the managing editor of Civil Eats. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Postand is a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio where she focuses on food issues. An avid cook and gardener, she currently tends a vegetable garden on her roof in the Lower East Side. You can follow her on Twitter for the latest food policy news.
Paula is one of 40 + who contribute material to Civil eats.

Monsanto in Gates’ Clothing? The Emperor’s New GMOs

September 2nd, 2010  By Eric Holt Gimenez
If you had any doubts about where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is really placing its bets, AGRA Watch’s recent announcement of the Foundation’s investment of $23.1 million in 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock should put them to rest. Genetic engineering: full speed ahead.
If you are one of those people who believes the axiom that Monsanto is the farmer’s friend (and the corollary, that its climate-ready, bio-fortified GMOs can save the world from hunger) you will not be surprised, disappointed, or find any conflict of interest in this investment.
But if you are part of the growing population who gets their information about GMOs fromscientists who are not beholden to corporate funding, has a problem with anti-trust issues, or is getting queasy about the increasing monopoly power of philanthropy capital… it’s time to say the Emperor has no clothes.
Under the guise of “sustainability” the Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform African into a GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive Green Revolution project. Up to now AGRA spokespeople have been slippery, and frankly, contradictory about their stance on GMOs.
The first Director of AGRA was Gary Toenniessen, a career program officer for Rockefeller Foundation. He said AGRA was not ruling out GMOs and if and when they were introduced it would be with all the appropriate “safeguards.” After AGRA was criticized for not having any Africans, Kofi Anan was named Chairman in 2007. He first said GMOs were out of the picture, the next day he recapitulated. Last Spring, Joe DeVries, who runs the AGRA seed program was asked by a Worldwatch blogger if they were engaging in genetic engineering. “Read our lips,” said Joe DeVries. “We are not promoting or funding research for GMOs (genetically modified organisms)…” In fact, in Kenya alone AGRA has used funds from the Gates Foundation to write grants for research in genetically modified agriculture. Nearly 80% of Gates’ funding in Kenya involves biotech and there have been over $100 million in grants to organizations connected to Monsanto. In 2008, some 30% of the Foundation’s agricultural development funds went to promoting or developing genetically modified seeds (See Ending Africa’s Hunger)..
More to the point is that–as Monsanto and Gates are fully aware–to establish a healthy GMO industry one first needs a strong conventional breeding program in place: labs, experiment stations, agronomists, extensionists, molecular biologists… and farmer’s seeds. All of which Gates, Rockefeller, Monsanto and AGRA are actively lining up.
They also need the power of U.S. government funding. That is where the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Casey-Lugar come in. USAID is now headed up by former Gates employee Rajiv Shah. The Casey-Lugar Global Food Security act ties foreign aid to GMOs. When the Gates Foundation places a bet, they like to hold all the cards.
Africa’s seeds are a potential windfall investment for Monsanto. Regardless of the philanthropic side of its intentions, cloaked in the sheep’s clothing of AGRA, the Gates Foundation is moving stealthily opening African seed market to global corporations. When the research, extension, and U.S. foreign aid is all in place Monsanto will swoop in for the feast.

The text is from CIVIL EATS and was written by:

Eric Holt Gimenez, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy. A university lecturer and agroecologist with 30 years experience in Latin America, Africa and Asia, he is the main author of a new book on the world food crisis: “Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice” from Food First

Aid Collage
By Richard Jonasse, Food First


Maggie Neale said...

Oh Sophie, you have been busy with this blog, so much information! Gates and Monsanto linked! Yikes! Sad goings on! Save the Seed! We are.

iNdi@ said...

didn't something similarly underhand happen to a region of rice-farmers somewhere? along the lines of "don't worry, eat your rice harvest, we'll give you replacement seed"...and then the replacement seed turns out to be sterile and produces a grain that [while it can be eaten] can't be used to grow another crop.
recall that from some way back in the late 70s...

the world is full of scams. like no-one mentioning that Haliburton [who allegedly profited quite nicely from the US- Iraq "intervention"] had a strong connection with the disastrous rig operated by BP in the gulf...
and then you begin to wonder at what cost the religious charities dole out their offerings. but maybe breakfast time is not a good time to go there.

sophie munns said...

Thanks for commenting Maggie.
The troubling thing is the effort to sort the good stories from the bad ...
Glad to hear of your seed-saving efforts.
have a wonderful weekend,

sophie munns said...

Hi India,
big thoughts over the muesli.... good to hear your thinking on this.
I remember being a 23 year old teacher talking to the kids I taught in an isolated regional high school about concerns then with the likes of the big M fast food..... leading to destruction of x, w and z!
30 years later I have ebbed and flowed with the whole shebang ... I stopped listening to Radio National around 2005 because all I could hear was gloom and doom....and my 9 to 5 job was at the coal face of a great deal of G & D.
Serious illness 3 years ago and the complete ebbing away of that whole lifestyle made me choose differently and adopt a "bugger it... go for it" attitude.
There is complete congruence in the way your art work, materials, methods, aesthetic and philosophy come together India.
Each of us has to find that authenticity as we can, how we can... if we need to I guess.
To get beyond the gloom and doom meant I needed to increase dialogue with others around things I value as essential. That meant acknowledging the fact of age old scamming humans get up to - to alarming levels! ...but persisting nevertheless in growing the dialogue I need to have with others locally and also beyond via the blog.
I spent decades mostly without a business card, writing in journals rather than saying out loud what I was thinking about (much of the time) and generally relishing the joys of the studio and the privacy.
However much has shifted and now.... generating broader dialogue feels like a necessity where once silence was a safety mechanism for the sake of fitting in.
Sharing complex but informed news from reliable sources is critical to my thinking... now more than ever.
Worrying about whether to paint on linen or canvas with what paints came to feel less important than what my overall life choices contributed to sustainable living. Illnes was the boon that allowed many changes for the better to come in.
There's a lot less despair in the current difficult dialogues Im part of than the ones i was subject to at lunchtime in the job I didnt want to be doing...surrounded by others not where they really wanted to be!
THAT is the paradox of our times I reckon... but thats another story!

Elaine said...

I feel so uninformed! Gates and Monsanto...VERY disturbing to say the least. Thank you for posting such important information and keeping us all aware of what is happening.

sophie munns said...

Hi Elaine,
Dont worry... I am needing to discuss this article further to make more sense of it.

It seems that the complex tie up of everything now means that things can be different to what one first thought.

And by the same token I need to tease this one out a little more to check if I am comprehending the situation accurately.

It certainly pays to delve a bit!

thanks for stopping to read and comment Elaine... most appreciated!

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