sábado, septiembre 13, 2008

Exposed: Europe’s GM-Hype in Times of Food and Fuel Crisis


By Claire Robinson


No evidence that GM crops will solve the food and fuel crisis

Most of the EU’s animal feed comes from Brazil and Argentina, which are careful to grow only those varieties of feed, both GM and non-GM, that are approved in the EU, so as not to harm their export markets [10]. An article in the Financial Times quotes a Brazilian diplomatic source saying, “We produce to satisfy our clients. We are not going to produce something they are not going to buy.” The article goes on to say that neither Argentina nor Brazil share the “apocalyptic” scenario currently being put forward by the biotech and livestock industries and intensive farmers [11].

Such scaremongering ignores the well-known fact that GM crops have at best, variable impacts on yields and are therefore not a solution to the food crisis, as was confirmed by the recent IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) report on the future of agriculture [12].

More importantly, it ignores the fact that the major cause of the food and feed crisis is not European GM policy, but the rush to biofuels. Even the World Bank has now confirmed what NGOs have been saying ever since the notion of a food crisis was first mooted, that the Bush-subsidised ethanol boom (with the EU's agrofuel boom following in its wake) is by far the single most important factor in creating the food crisis that is driving 100m people worldwide below the poverty line. The report, which has not been published but was leaked to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, says biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75 percent. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3 percent to food-price rises. Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George W. Bush [13].

The irony is that exactly the same people who created this disaster by promoting the rush into agrofuels are now promoting a rush for GMOs as the solution. It is this hype that the European Commission and British politicians appear to be swallowing, without being honest about the vested interests at stake.

Monsanto does a complete about-turn on GMOs being needed to feed the world

And here’s another irony. The truth about GMOs as the solution to the global food crisis is not coming from politicians but from industry itself. Previously, in the face of growing global opposition, Monsanto has long proclaimed that GM crops are vital for feeding a hungry world, while critics countered that the food is there and that distribution is the key to tackling hunger. But as opposition to biofuels is rising in Europe and even in the US on the grounds that they are not a solution to climate change and are contributing to the food crisis, Monsanto is now keen to defend the biofuels gravy-train that sent food prices sky-rocketing, and the company's spin has suddenly gone into complete reverse.

The ethanol boom may be pushing millions towards starvation and hundreds of millions deeper into poverty, but, says Monsanto's chief technology officer Rob Fraley [14], "From a production perspective, we have abundance [of food]". Fraley now says the "challenges" are in distribution and access to food because of wealth distribution, in other words, poverty.

Fraley made his pitch at the launch of a new multi-million dollar lobby group for ethanol, the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, that Monsanto has helped set up. There could be no clearer demonstration that Monsanto's concern has never been feeding the hungry; its leading role in the ethanol lobby shows that the hungry can happily starve, just so long as it's good for the company's bottom line.

Given that industry has revealed the truth behind its biofuels agenda, is it too much to ask of Europe’s politicians that they should be equally honest about the vested interests behind the hyping of GM crops?
Claire Robinson is an editor of GMWatch www.GMWatch.org

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