domingo, marzo 15, 2009


2008 was another great year in the global resistance to the imposition of GM crops. But you might not have known it thanks to the atmosphere of crisis as food prices sky-rocketed and so did Monsanto's profits. The two were directly connected.

The World Bank's attributed as much as 70% of food price inflation to the disastrous policy of growing food for fuel. Some go further and see 'biofuels' as the critical catalyst for the entire crisis.

Monsanto had been at the heart of the lobby for 'biofuels', and with food riots breaking out as the poor were pushed increasingly to the wall, Monsanto got together with the likes of Dupont and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to form the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy. The aim: to keep Bush's ethanol mandates firmly in place, regardless of the consequences.

The reason was that food price inflation not only enabled Monsanto to profit by massively hiking up its prices for seeds and Roundup, it also provided the launch pad for an aggressive new PR campaign. Its purpose was to use the atmosphere of crisis to try and over-rule grassroots resistance to GM by enlisting the support of pro-GM politicians, technocrats, industrialists and commentators in promoting GM crops as vital to solving the food crisis.

As Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent succinctly put it, 'The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.'

Even some GM supporters showed signs of disquiet at this panic-mongering. Prof Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales admitted, 'The cynic in me thinks that they're just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they're doing it, but the danger is that if they're making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that's bullshit.'

But the waves of BS were also being driven by industry desperation. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, resistance to GM was far from crumbling amidst the panic, and to make matters worse a major report produced by 400 scientific experts and signed up to by nearly 60 governments
was published in 2008, which made it clear that after more than 10 years of commercialisation, GM crops had done nothing to help with the eradication of hunger or poverty, nor reversal of environmental degradation caused by agriculture.

Just as damaging for the biotech industry, was the report's conclusion that the evidence showed that it was the agroecological alternatives, with their proven track record in boosting production for small farmers in developing countries, that needed special promotion at the cost of investments in industrial and GM-based agriculture.

After reading the 2500-page report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, it was easy to see that the diversion of political attention, scientific endeavour and funding away from these innovative low-cost approaches will have a long-term negative impact on both future food supplies and equity for the poor.

This is a message that the biotech industry and its supporters are desperate to keep out of the media and away from the political elite, but 2008 was the year the cat got out of the bag.

Nobody should any longer be in doubt - when it comes to resolving global problems and building a better world, GM crops are a dangerous irrelevance that will only push us further down the path to destruction.

Here are the first 6 months of GM resistance from 2008.


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