domingo, junio 29, 2008

New from GRAIN

July 2008


One of the few benefits of the current food crisis is that it is focusing attention on the way food reaches some of the most disadvantaged people in the world. As we show in our editorial, much of the blame for the remarkable increase in food prices over the last year can be attributed to speculators fleeing the collapse in the US mortgage market. By February and March this year big funds were investing about US$1 billion a day in commodities markets. Just to be clear, these funds were not buying or selling physical commodities but betting on future price movements in these markets.

All this activity has driven up prices, causing a "disconnect" or a "divorce" between the value of a futures contract and the actual supply of the real commodity. Although world stocks of some commodities, such as wheat, are low, the supplies of other commodities, such as cotton, are at an all-time high. Yet the price of almost all traded commodities has surged. It is a bubble that is bound to burst, but meanwhile it is leading to a 40 per cent increase in the food bills that developing countries face this year. For the poor in countries such as Haiti, Eritrea and Burundi, which are heavily dependent on food imports, this is having a catastrophic impact. But for multinational food traders, such as Cargill and Archer Daniel Midland, it is a chance to clock up extraordinary profits. It is a graphic illustration of the huge -- and increasing -- disparity of wealth in the modern world.

Such moments of crisis offer a chance for change. It is for this reason that a fierce battle is currently being fought. On the one hand, multinational biotechnology corporations, with the support of the US government, are taking advantage of the crisis to launch a huge offensive to promote hybrids and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Providing no evidence to support their case, they claim that only farming carried out with their sophisticated products can provide the food needed to feed the world. As our article on hybrid rice demonstrates, the corporations are even using the crisis to relaunch products that are widely seen not to have lived up to the expectations created around them when they were first put on the market. On the other hand, organisations of small-scale farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people are saying that the current crisis has shown how dangerous it is for countries to allow multinational corporations and speculators to take control of their food supply. The way forward, they say, is sustainable food systems, based on indigenous knowledge and controlled by local farmers.

However that battle is resolved, Professor Tim Lang, a leading food specialist in the UK, believes that far-reaching change is coming to the way we produce and market food because of new environmental and energy constraints, the "new fundamentals", as he calls them. In his interview with us, he says that "it looks likely that we might be sleep-walking into a world in which blood flows, metaphorically and at times actually, due to mistakes over food policy." He wishes to avoid this outcome, if at all possible, but he has no doubt on which side he stands, if the crunch comes: "Ultimately, we have to side with food democracy over food control."

While this tussle is being fought in the full glare of the world's media, other highly significant changes are attracting much less attention. One example is the way US and EU corporations are cleverly twisting food safety regulations to promote their products in foreign markets and to protect their domestic markets. As our ground-breaking article shows, corporations are having to develop new strategies now that the advance of free market capitalism means that they can no longer use tariffs and quotas to keep out competitors.

In this issue we also have two other stories that you are unlikely to encounter elsewhere. One concerns the arrival of the highly pathogenic H5N1 variety of avian flu into the West African country of Benin. Lessons should have been learnt from earlier outbreaks in other countries but sadly they were not. The other story is an account of the way farmers in Andhra Pradesh in southern India are building an ecological and sustainable model of farming that allows them to restore the fertility of their soils and to break free of the control of the middlemen who used to sell them on credit Bt cotton seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. For a country where some 150,000 farmers have committed suicide over the last decade, this initiative lights a beacon of hope.

The editor

Download the entire issue of Seedling:

While there has been widespread reporting of the riots that have broken out around the world as a result of the global food crisis, little attention has been paid to the way forward. The solution is a radical shift in power away from the international financial institutions and global development agencies, so that small-scale farmers, still responsible for most food consumed throughout the world, set agricultural policy. Three interrelated issues need to be tackled: land, markets and farming itself.

Despite the fanfare about soaring yields, hybrid rice has not been a successful crop. Three decades of subsidies and research have failed to bring it into mass production, except in China. But now, with the world facing a serious rice crisis, hybrid rice is back on the agenda. It is being strongly pushed as the only way of boosting rice production. The consequences of a large-scale shift from conventional rice to corporate-friendly hybrids would be devastating not only for small farmers but also for future world rice production.

Why Bush is wrong to blame Indians for the rise in food prices

Professor of Food Policy at City University in London, Timothy Lang is a leading authority on food. He has written extensively on issues such as food security, food inequalities, nutrition and the tension between food democracy and food control. The steep rise in the price of basic food commodities on the world market this year came as no surprise to him, for he has been warning for some time that the world is "sleepwalking into a crisis".

A highly pathogenic variety of the H5N1 type of avian flu was first reported in the West African country of Benin in December 2007. Even though this type of flu has been known for more than four years, the authorities in Benin, rather than learning from others' experiences, have repeated many of their mistakes: they have dealt with the outbreaks secretively; they have blamed wild birds, with no supporting evidence; they have failed to ban the import of poultry. Worse still, they are refusing to pay compensation and thus causing huge economic problems for thousands of small farmers who have lost their livelihoods.

As the push toward neoliberalism advances, and quantitative measures to protect local markets, such as tariffs and quotas, disappear, industrial powers are turning to qualitative measures such as food safety regulations to further skew trade in their favour. In the food safety arena, both the US and the EU are pressing their standards on other countries. For Washington, even though its own food safety system is widely criticised as too lax, this means getting countries to accept GMOs and US meat safety inspections. For Brussels, whose food safety standards have a much better reputation, it means imposing high standards on countries that cannot meet them. Bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have become a tool of choice to push through the changes.
Polish farmers defy EU bureaucracy
Saying 'no' to chemical farming in India
Seeds of information - "GM seeds dig in", "Peak glyphosate", "Crisis management" and "GM crops not the answer"


jueves, junio 26, 2008

Vía Campesina: "El problema no es de falta de alimentos, es una cuestión de política agraria"

Vía Campesina: “El problema no es de falta de alimentos, es una cuestión de política Agraria”

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Ni la suba de los combustibles, tampoco las catástrofes climáticas o el creciente despoblamiento del medio rural están en la base de la actual crisis alimentaria. Para la organización Vía Campesina, los motivos deben buscarse en la especulación, la liberalización del comercio bajo la forma de “agronegocio” y las prácticas monopólicas de las grandes corporaciones que dominan el sector.

La red de organizaciones Vía Campesina celebra en la capital de Indonesia desde el sábado 21 su congreso internacional con la presencia de representantes campesinos de toda América Latina, Europa y el país local, Indonesia.

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miércoles, junio 25, 2008



Press Release

23 June 2008
For immediate release

More information about the Friends of the Earth Europe GMO campaign


EU Agriculture Council: Don't fall for GMO hype

Brussels, 23 June 2008 - As European farm ministers meet today Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and the European Farmers Coordination are stepping up calls for governments not to fall for biotech industry propaganda that genetically modified (GM) crops are a solution to the food and feed price crisis.

Today's European Agriculture Council comes at a time when political attention has focused on GMOs as a potential solution, including the UK Prime Minister reportedly calling for the EU to relax rules on importing GM animal feed [1]. This is likely to involve dropping the EU's 'zero tolerance' policy to allow contamination with GMOs not approved in the EU. The European Commission is expected to put forward a proposal on this issue in the coming weeks.

However, there is no evidence that GM crops will help tackle the food and feed price rise crisis:

- There are many complex factors behind the rise in food prices including the deregulation of agricultural trade, commodity speculation, rise in oil prices, climate change, the global rush for biofuels and the underlying unfair trade system [2];
- GM crops have failed to tackle hunger and poverty around the world [3];
- Around 60 governments have endorsed the conclusions of the 2008 UN and World Bank 'International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development' (IAASTD) which found no role for genetically modified crops in tackling future food needs [4]. The GMO industry pulled out of this process last year and the US has refused to sign the final report because it is not supportive of GMOs;
- Most GM crops cultivated around the world are grown in intensive monocultures, have resulted in a massive increase in pesticide use [5], and are used as animal feed in richer nations, not for food in poorer countries;
- GM crops do not increase yields and attempts to develop drought or salt tolerant GM crops have failed - no such crops are on the market despite years of research;
- Patents and ownership underpinning GMOs mean that GM crops are inherently unsuitable for small scale and resource-poor farmers;
- Evidence clearly shows that weakening the EU's GMO laws to drop the 'zero tolerance' principle will not solve the high prices faced by the European livestock and food industry.[6]

Helen Holder, GMO coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Governments are seriously misled if they think that GM crops are going to help tackle the food crisis - GM crops do not increase yields or tackle hunger and poverty. Instead of helping the GM industry to cash-in on the food crisis, Europe should be encouraging a radical shift towards sustainable farming systems and abandoning its biofuels target which is fuelling high food and feed prices."

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU GMO campaign director said: "There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the current food price increase. Any claim that a single technology such as genetic engineering is a silver bullet for our future food supply is plainly false and distracts attention from the real solutions. Farming methods that ensure higher yields, that are more climate resilient, which do not destroy natural resources and can provide better livelihoods for farmers around the world are the only way forward."

Gerard Choplin, coordinator of European Farmers Coordination from CPE said: "European farmers can produce the animal feed needed. The European Union must, through its current and future reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy, shift away from dependence on imported animal feed by adopting policies to encourage farmers to cultivate protein crops and develop grasslands."


For more information please contact:

Helen Holder, Friends of the Earth Europe GMO coordinator, tel. +32 (0)2 542 0182, +32 (0)474 857638 (mob.),

Francesca Gater, Friends of the Earth Europe Communications Officer, tel. +32 2542 6105, (mob.) +32 485 930 515,

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU GMO policy director, tel. +32 (0)2 274 19 06, +32 (0)477 77 70 34 (mob.)

G�rard Choplin, Coordinator, European Farmers' Coordination (CPE), tel. +32(0) 2 217 3112, +32 (0)473257378 (mob.)




[2] See Friends of the Earth's media briefing on the food crisis:

[3] Questions and Answers: Who benefits from GM crops?

[4] IAASTD global press release:



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"Los campos van quedando cada vez más vacíos de gente"

Campesina del MoCaSE - Vía Campesina

En una conferencia de prensa, el Frente Nacional Campesino (FNC), anunció este lunes en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, las acciones que estará llevando a cabo esta semana, movilizándose al Congreso Nacional por "El uso y tenencia de la tierra" y por "Una nueva política agropecuaria con soberanía alimentaria y distribución de la riqueza". Las organizaciones campesinas se estarán reuniendo con las Comisiones de Agricultura, Ganadería, Presupuesto y Hacienda de la Cámara de Diputados de la Nación mientras se trata en el Parlamento la "ley de retenciones" a la exportación y el FNC inicia movilizaciones en todo el país. Los corresponsales de Radio Mundo Real en Argentina, Raquel Schrott y Ezequiel Miodownik cubrieron la conferencia y comparten las presentaciones y reflexiones de Luis Santucho del Movimiento Campesino de Santiago del Estero (MoCaSE) Los Juríes, Benigno López del Movimiento Campesino de Formosa (MoCaFor), y Héctor Agüero de Hijos del Monte.

Campesinos reivindican derecho a trabajar la tierra y a alimentar comunidades

Campesinos reivindican derecho a trabajar la tierra y a alimentar comunidades

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Unos 1000 integrantes de la Vía Campesina originarios de 25 países, especialmente de 12 provincias de Indonesia, inauguraron el sábado en la capital de ese país, Jakarta, una conferencia internacional de cinco días de duración sobre derechos campesinos. Reivindican el derecho a trabajar sus tierras y a alimentar a sus familias y comunidades.

“Los campesinos representan casi la mitad de la población mundial y son el soporte del sistema alimentario. Sin embargo, sus derechos son violados sistemáticamente”, asegura un comunicado difundido por Vía Campesina.

En diversas partes del mundo los pequeños productores son desplazados del medio rural gracias a políticas que promueven las plantaciones de monocultivos, destinados a satisfacer las demandas del mundo industrializado. Eucaliptos, pinos, soja, caña de azúcar, palma aceitera, son algunos de los cultivos que se están plantando a gran escala en América Latina, África y Asia para la producción de pasta de celulosa, papel y agrocombustibles principalmente.

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martes, junio 24, 2008

Small farmers feed the world Industrial agrofuels fuel hunger and poverty

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Via Campesina Position Paper

 Presented to the media on June24th, 2008 in Jakarta during the International Conference on Peasant Rights. “Right to grow, right to feed, right to eat”

The current massive wave of investment in energy production based on cultivating and industrial processing of vegetal materials like corn, soy, palm oil, sugar cane, canola, etc, will neither solve the climate crisis nor the energy crisis. It will also bring disastrous social and
environmental consequences. It creates a new and very serious threat to food production by small farmers and to the attainment of food sovereignty for the world population.

Over the last twenty years the neoliberal policies adopted globally have failed to answer people’s basic needs. The FAO promises at the 1996 World Food Summit and the UN Millenium Development Goals to lift people out of poverty have not been kept. Many more people are suffering form hunger.

It is claimed that agrofuels will help fight climate change. In reality, the opposite is true. The new extensive monoculture plantations for the
production of agrofuels are increasing greenhouse gases through deforestation, drainage of wetlands, and dismantling communal lands. If we take into account the whole cycle of production, transformation, distribution of agrofuels, they do not produce less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, except in some cases. Moreover, agrofuels will never be able to replace fossil fuels. According to the latest estimates, they will only cover the future rise in consumption from now until 2020. There is simply not enough land in the world to generate all the fuel necessary for an industrial society whose needs for transport of people and goods are continually increasing. The promise of agrofuels creates the illusion that we can continue to consume energy at an ever growing rate. The only answer to the threat of climate change is to reduce energy use worldwide, and to redirect international trade towards local markets.

Meanwhile, the social and ecological impacts of agrofuel development will be devastating. Monoculture and industrial agriculture, whether for agrofuel or any other production, are destroying land, forests, water and biodiversity. They drive family farmers, men and women, off their land. It is estimated that five million farmers have been expelled from their land to create space for monocultures in Indonesia; five million in Brazil, four million in Colombia... Industrial agriculture generates much less employment than sustainable family farming; this is an agriculture without farmers.

The current expansion of agrofuel production contributes to the massive concentration of capital by landowners, large companies and TNCs, provoking a real counter land reform throughout the world. Moreover it contributes to increased speculation on food products and land prices.

Agrofuel production has already started to replace food production. Its ongoing extension will drive even more small scale farmers and indigenous peoples off their lands. Instead of dedicating land and water to food production, these resources are being diverted to produce energy in the form of diesel and ethanol. Today peasants and small farmers, indigenous people, women and men, produce the huge majority of the food consumed worldwide. If not prevented now, agrofuels will occupy our lands and food will become even more scarce and expensive.

Who would eat agrofuels?

A new alliance of some governments with automotive and chemical companies, oil and agro-industry is promoting agrofuels with the sole objective of making money. The fear of climate change and energy crisis is used to develop agrofuel production in a manner that maintains and strengthens an agro-industrial model. Knowing that this model is, in itself, a major cause of climate change and an intensive energy consumer, is no obstacle.

Technology and market control of the TNCs strengthen and increase their hold over the agrarian sector. The family farmers whose food production has been based on traditional seeds, are displaced, their coexistence with biodiversity, their way of producing energy by human and animal force are disrupted. Their way of life uses much less energy per unit of food produced, and specially, fewer fossil fuels.

Agribusiness companies are aware that agrofuels produced on a large scale are not economically viable. The race towards agrofuels is made possible by the huge direct and indirect subsidies from supporting governments and by speculation on the financial markets, which is also causing food prices to rise.

The figures cited are alarming. Millions of hectares and billions of dollars are mentioned: the government of India is contemplating planting
14 million hectares with "jatrofa", the Inter-American Bank of Development says that Brazil has 120 million hectares ready for agrofuel production and a business lobby suggests that there are 397 million hectares available in 15 African countries. This means a level of expropriations without precedent.

While TNCs and investment funds increase their profits, a large part of the world population does not have enough money to buy food. Agrofuels are estimated to be responsible for 30% of the current food price crisis.

When the TNCs are unable to find farmland for agrofuel production, deforestation is forced on areas that are necessary for the preservation of life on earth.

Thousands of farmers have no alternative but to accept to grow agrofuels as they need an income to support themselves till the next season. National and international agricultural policies imposed by international financial institutions and TNCs have exacerbated the dependence of developing countries, leading to food crisis, extreme poverty, and hunger throughout the world. Therefore, those small farmers are not guilty of making the wrong choice they are the victims of the current system imposed on them.

Small farmers and agricultural workers, working in extremely harsh conditions with damaging effects on their health, with very poor income have no say in the way their production is used. Many are working under contract farming with large agribusiness companies that process, refine and sell the product. Therefore it is the companies who decide to channel the produce to the fuel rather than to the food market. The high food prices paid by the consumers are not reflected in the small farmers’ income.

In response to energy crisis: small scale production and local consumption

Small scale sustainable farming is essential to feed the world. Sustainable family farming and food sovereignty consume up to 80 times
less energy than industrial agriculture.

Food sovereignty primarily involves the use of local resources for food production, minimizing imports of raw materials as well as transport. Likewise, the food produced is consumed locally so that the end product does not travel far. It is not logical to eat, in Europe, aspargus coming all the way from the Altiplano or fresh green beans coming from Kenya.

Throughout the history of farming, villagers have obtained energy from their farmland to meet their daily needs. Peasant families are using
coconut or sunflower oil, biogas, firewood, wind and water to generate electricity for local use. Such methods are sustainable and integrated into the food production cycle on the farmland.

It is imperative to design and adopt responsible attitudes to food consumption and to adjust our way of eating, in the knowledge that the
industrial model of production and consumption is destructive, while the peasant-based model of production uses responsible energy practices.

Therefore, Via Campesina continues its struggle against the power of large corporations and supporting political systems. The energy crisis should not be seen as an isolated problem but as part of the whole crisis of the current model of development where profit has priority over people.

Instead, we support a people centered, small-scale diversified agriculture with local markets and healthy livelihoods using less energy and less dependent on external sources. Sustainable family farmers fulfill the fundamental mission of agriculture: to feed people.

Via Campesina denounces:

The neoliberal model, international financial institutions and transnational capital, directly responsible for the food and the climate

  • The irresponsible presentation of agrofuels as an answer to the climate and energy crisis
  • The scandal of producing agrofuels in a world ravaged by hunger.
  • The passive attitude of many institutions faced with the serious risk posed by the advent of agrofuels which implies that rural and urban populations can neither produce nor consume food.
  • That these same institutions are in fact placing the economic interests of TNCs above the food and nutritional needs of the very people they are entrusted to represent and defend.
  • The insult of continuing to promote agrofuels in spite of the negative energy balance in their production, processing, and transport.
  • The neoliberal model, international financial institutions and transnational capital, directly responsible for the food and the climate crisis.

Via Campesina demands:

The end of corporate driven, monoculture- based production of agrofuels. As a first step, a five year international moratorium on the production, trade and consumption of industrial agrofuels has to be immediately declared.

An in-depth evaluation of social and environment cost of the agrofuel boom and of profits made by TNCs in the processing and trade of the raw materials.

The promotion and development of small scale production and local consumption models and the rejection of consumerism

Explicit support from governments and institutions to the sustainable peasant-based model of food production and distribution, with its minimal use of energy, its capacity to create jobs, to respect cultural and biological diversity and its positive effect on global warming (fertile soils are the best way to capture CO2).

The reorientation of agricultural policies towards sustainable rural communities and livelihoods based on food sovereignty and genuine agrarian reform.

The promotion and development of responsible consumption models.

Let’s put out the fire of agrofuels and carry the flame of food sovereignty!

For more information:

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lunes, junio 23, 2008

El sabor agridulce de la COP 9

El sabor agridulce de la COP 9

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La novena Conferencia de las Partes firmantes del Convenio de Diversidad Biológica (COP-9) que tuvo lugar a mediados de mayo en Bonn, Alemania, ha dejado a las organizaciones sociales con un gusto amargo: no se avanzó en ciertos puntos clave que los movimientos reclamaban, y en otros hubo un grave retroceso, como lo que sucedió con los árboles transgénicos. Sin embargo, también hubo logros, específicamente en lo que refiere a la fertilización oceánica.

En la columna de la revista Biodiversidad de esta semana, Silvia Ribeiro, miembro del comité editorial de la publicación e investigadora y coordinadora de programas del Grupo ETC, nos cuenta sus percepciones sobre los alcances y retrocesos de esta COP.

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Declaración de la sociedad civil sobre la emergencia alimentaria mundial

Los gobiernos e instituciones internacionales son los responsables de los errores históricos y sistemáticos

Los gobiernos nacionales que se reunirán en Roma durante la Cumbre sobre la Crisis de los Alimentos de la FAO, deben empezar por aceptar su responsabilidad en la emergencia alimentaria actual.

En la Cumbre Mundial sobre la Alimentación de 1996, cuando se estimaba que 830 millones de personas pasaban hambre, los gobiernos prometieron reducir esa cifra a la mitad para el 2015. Muchos predicen ahora que, por el contrario, esa cifra aumentará un 50% hasta los 1.200 millones, con mayores problemas derivados del impredecible caos climático y de las presiones adicionales derivadas de la producción de agrocombustibles.

Ante el colapso de las reservas de ganado y pesca y los precios disparados de los alimentos y del combustible, se requieren nuevas políticas, prácticas y estructuras para resolver la emergencia alimentaria actual y para prevenir futuras – y mayores – tragedias. Los gobiernos, incluyendo los del Sur del globo, y las organizaciones intergubernamentales deben reconocer ahora su responsabilidad por haber aplicado políticas que han socavado la productividad agrícola y han destruido la seguridad alimentaria de los países. Por estas razones, han perdido la legitimidad y la confianza de los pueblos del mundo en que ellos puedan realizar los cambios reales, sustanciales, necesarios para terminar con la crisis de alimentos actual; para salvaguardar la disponibilidad de alimentos y ganado y para enfrentar los desafíos del cambio climático.

La emergencia actual hunde sus raíces en la crisis de los alimentos de los años 70, cuando algunos gobiernos oportunistas de la OCDE, aplicando políticas neoliberales, desmantelaron la arquitectura institucional internacional para la alimentación y la agricultura. Esta crisis alimentaria es el resultado de la negación de muchos años de los gobiernos y de las organizaciones intergubernamentales a respetar, proteger y cumplir el derecho a la alimentación, y de la impunidad total para las violaciones sistemáticas de este derecho. Adoptaron estrategias políticas de corto plazo que motivaron la negligencia respecto a la alimentación y la agricultura y propiciaron el escenario de la actual emergencia alimentaria.

Como consecuencia, las agencias y programas de la ONU y otras instituciones internacionales, dominadas por un pequeño grupo de países donantes, están mal dirigidas, son muy ineficaces, competitivas en vez de cooperativas, e incapaces de llevar a cabo sus (conflictivos) mandatos. . Las políticas de ajuste estructural impuestas por el Banco Mundial y el FMI, el acuerdo de la OMC en agricultura y el paradigma del libre comercio han minado economías locales y nacionales, erosionado el medio ambiente y han dañado los sistemas locales de alimentación, llevándonos a la crisis alimentaria de hoy.
Eso ha facilitado el desarrollo de oligopolios corporativos y rápidas concentraciones empresariales a lo largo de toda la cadena alimentaria; ha permitido la especulación depredadora de mercancías y el aventurismo financiero mercantil; y ha posibilitado que las instituciones financieras internacionales y los programas bilaterales de ayuda devasten la producción sostenible de alimentos y los sistemas de subsistencia.

Movimientos sociales y otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil, nos hemos reunido para establecer un nuevo planteamiento sobre el inoperante sistema global de la alimentación. Estamos desarrollando el siguiente plan de acción global para la alimentación y la agricultura y estaríamos dispuestos a discutir este plan con los gobiernos y organizaciones intergubernamentales que asistirán a la Cumbre sobre la Alimentación en Roma –(“Conferencia de alto nivel sobre la seguridad alimentaria mundial: los desafíos del cambio climático y de la bioenergía”).


Pedimos un cambio local y global de paradigma hacia la Soberanía Alimentaria. La producción de alimentos y el consumo se basan fundamentalmente en consideraciones locales. La respuesta a la crisis de alimentos actual y a las futuras sólo es posible mediante un cambio de paradigma hacia la soberanía alimentaria integral. Los/las pequeños/as campesinos/as, los ganaderos, los pescadores, los pueblos indígenas y otros han definido un sistema alimentario basado en el Derecho Humano a la Comida adecuada y en las políticas de producción que aumenten la democracia en los sistemas alimentarios locales y aseguren la maximización del uso sostenible de los recursos naturales. La Soberanía Alimentaria se dirige a todos los temas sin resolver identificados por la Conferencia Mundial sobre la Alimentación de 1974. Se centra en la comida para los pueblos; valora a los proveedores de alimentos; localiza los sistemas de alimentos; asegura el control comunitario y colectivo de la tierra, el agua y la diversidad genética; honra y construye conocimiento y habilidades a nivel local; y trabaja con la naturaleza. La soberanía alimentaria es sustancialmente distinta de las políticas existentes de comercio neoliberal y asistencial dirigidas a la “seguridad alimentaria” mundial. Estas políticas son exclusivistas, insensibles a aquellos que producen la comida; silenciosas sobre dónde y cómo se cultiva o consume; y se ha demostrado – desde los 70 – su fracaso. Los gobiernos e instituciones internacionales deben respetar y adoptar la soberanía alimentaria.


Rechazamos los modelos de la Revolución Verde. Los tecno-apaños tecnocráticos no son la respuesta para la producción sostenible de alimentos y el desarrollo rural.
La agricultura y la pesca industrializadas no son sostenibles. La Evaluación Internacional del Conocimiento Agrícola, Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo (IAASTD) muestra claramente la necesidad de un gran cambio en el modelo actual de investigación y desarrollo. Este informe muestra que los gobiernos (Sur y Norte) han abandonado a voluntad y trágicamente la agricultura y el desarrollo rural, especialmente la agricultura de pequeña escala y la pesca artesanal, desde la última crisis global de los alimentos. Esta actitud parece que va cambiando en tanto que la emergencia actual se despliega. Sin embargo, el nuevo interés en la agricultura permanece fundamentalmente erróneo, pues algunas fundaciones privadas de EE.UU., junto con agro-negocios globales, están presionando a los gobiernos nacionales y a los sistemas de investigación internacional para que sigan la así llamada “revolución verde” en África y en todos los lugares; basándose en apaños tecnológicos rápidos y políticas de mercado fracasadas, más que en decisiones de política social. Los gobiernos, las instituciones de investigación y otros donantes deben aprender de este estudio; cambiar la dirección y apoyar las producciones de cultivos sostenibles de pequeña escala y de ganadería y pesca, en base a las necesidades expresadas por las comunidades locales. Los programas liderados por campesinos/pescadores conducirán a una auto-suficiencia local y nacional. Específicamente, los gobiernos que asisten al Tercer Forum de Alto Nivel sobre la Efectividad de la Ayuda en Ghana, en septiembre, deberían rechazar los modelos filantro-capitalistas de una nueva revolución verde; y deberían reafirmar el papel central de los pueblos y gobiernos en establecer la política y el sistema práctico para su desarrollo.
Apoyamos una estrategia global para la conservación y un uso sostenible de la biodiversidad agrícola que priorice la participación de los pequeños agricultores, ganaderos y pescadores. La diversidad biológica en la agricultura es un requisito previo para asegurar las provisiones de alimentos. La enorme pérdida de diversidad, el uso de OMG y las patentes de semillas y genes hacen que la producción de alimentos sea vulnerable. Para apoyar a los pequeños agricultores que desarrollan sistemas de producción resistentes y bio-diversos, debemos trabajar juntos para salvaguardar los agro-ecosistemas, las especies y la diversidad genética que puede adaptarse en la granja a nuevos desafíos como el cambio climático. La Cumbre sobre la Alimentación de Roma debería alentar a los gobiernos, a la FAO, a la Convención sobre Biodiversidad y a la Fundación para la Diversidad Global de Cultivos, a proporcionar un apoyo financiero masivo e inmediato, in-situ y en la granja, a la conservación y mejora de cultivos y ganado, liderada por campesinos/as.
Participaremos en el desarrollo de una estrategia integral local/global para responder al cambio climático. El cambio climático está ya causando grandes pérdidas en la producción de alimentos y está devastando las vidas de millones de personas incluso lo de los emigrantes. El futuro es incierto, pero la mayoría de estudios indican que el cambio climático será más perjudicial para los pueblos y sistemas alimentarios de los países tropicales y subtropicales que para los países de clima templado. Hay una necesidad urgente de cortar con la emisión de gases con efecto invernadero al menos un 80% para el 2030.

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domingo, junio 22, 2008

Ban GMOs Now

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho warns that further indulgence in GMOs will severely damage our chances of surviving the food crisis and global warming; organic agriculture and localised food systems are the way forward

Invited lecture at conference on TRADITIONAL SEEDS OUR NATIONAL TREASURE AND HERITAGE -Traditional and Organic Agriculture instead of GMO, 17 May 2008, Bewelder, Warsaw, Poland

Food Futures Now , *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free, How organic agriculture and localised food, and energy systems can potentially compensate for all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities and free us from fossil fuels The Brave New World of GM Science

In 1994, I met some of the most remarkable leaders in the Third World: Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher (Institute of Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Martin Khor (Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia), and Vandana Shiva (Navdanya, New Delhi, India), who persuaded me to look into genetically modified organisms (GMOs), especially GM crops, which they rightly saw as a special threat to small family farmers. The biotech industry was promising miracle GM crops that would boost yield to feed the world, improve nutrition, and clean up and protect the environment. Monsanto’s Flavr Savr tomato, the first GM crop, had just been commercialised, though it turned out to be a complete flop, and was withdrawn several years later..

The biotech industry’s aggressive campaign of disinformation and manipulation of science did nothing to obscure the signs that the dream would soon turn into nightmare; and I said so in my book first published in 1997/1998 [1] Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare, the Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business, which became an international bestseller, translated into many languages, and recently reprinted with an extended introduction to coincide with its translation into Indonesian. Everything predicted in that book has happened. It also explained why the science behind GM is obsolete; a story elaborated further in Living with the Fluid Genome [2] published in 2003.

Genetic modification based on an obsolete theory and hence ineffective and dangerous

Genetic engineering of plants and animals began in the mid 1970s in the belief that the genome (the totality of all the genetic material of a species) is constant and static, and that the characteristics of organism are simply hardwired in their genome. But geneticists soon discovered that the genome is remarkably dynamic and ‘fluid’, and constantly in conversation with the environment. This determines which genes are turned on, when, where, by how much and for how long. Moreover, the genetic material itself could also be marked or changed according to experience, and the influence passed on to the next generation.

The best thing about the human genome project is to finally explode the myth of genetic determinism, revealing the layers of molecular complexity that transmit, interpret and rewrite the genetic texts [3] (Life Beyond the Central Dogma series, SiS 24). These processes are precisely orchestrated and finely tuned by the organism as a whole, in a highly coordinated molecular ‘dance of life’ that’s necessary for survival.

In contrast, genetic engineering in the laboratory is crude, imprecise and invasive. The rogue genes inserted into a genome to make a GMO could land anywhere; typically in a rearranged or defective form, scrambling and mutating the host genome, and have the tendency to move or rearrange further once inserted, basically because they do not know the dance of life. That’s ultimately why genetic modification doesn’t work and is also dangerous.

Independent science against GM

In 1999, I co-founded the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) with my husband and long-time collaborator Peter Saunders, Professor of Mathematics at King’s College, London, to work for science, society and sustainability and to reclaim science for the public good. We are fortunate to have the support of wonderful fellow scientists, especially Prof. Joe Cummins, who joined ISIS from the start and continues to play the leading role in monitoring GM science. (Joe Cummins has been honoured with the ISIS Distinguished Fellow Award 2008.)

In 2003, dozens of scientists from around the world joined us in ISIS to form the Independent Science Panel, and produced a report, The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World [4], documenting all the problems and hazards of GM crops as well as the successes and benefits of non-GM sustainable agriculture. The report was republished within a year, translated into many languages and widely circulated. We presented the report to the European Parliament in 2004 [5] (Keep GM Out of Europe, SiS 24), with the help of Jill Evans MEP.

In 2007, we updated the ISP report with a dossier containing more than 160 fully referenced articles from the archives of ISIS’ magazine Science in Society, spelling out the scandals of serious hazards ignored, scientific fraud, the regulatory sham and violation of farmers’ rights [6] (GM Science Exposed: Hazards Ignored, Fraud, Regulatory Sham, Violation of Farmers Rights). Duped farmers in India are driven to suicide in hundreds of thousands. GM science is a crime against humanity.

In a scientific review paper [7] (GM Food Nightmare Unfolding in the Regulatory Sham), we documented how national and international regulators and advisory bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority have been ignoring the precautionary principle (which is accepted by the European Commission), abusing science, sidestepping the law, and helping to promote GM technology in the face of evidence piling up against the safety of GM food and feed.

We presented our dossier and review paper to the European Parliament in June 2007, once again to press for a GM-Free Europe and a GM-free world, thanks to the sponsorship of Polish MEP Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski and his office. Our panel consisted of key scientists from six countries including Poland, and friends of independent scientists, including MEPs Dr. Caroline Lucas and Jill Evans.

The case for a GM-free world has grown much stronger since 2004, not only because so much more evidence has stacked up against GM crops; but especially because accelerating global warming, the depletion of water and fossil fuels, and the current food crisis make it that much more urgent to shift comprehensively to sustainable food and energy systems as proposed in ISIS/TWN’s energy report Which Energy? [8]. There is neither the time nor resources to waste on GM.

We’d had 30 years of GMOs and more than enough damage done, as detailed in the ISP Report [4], in our GM Science dossier [6], and more recent evidence has been piling up.

Thirty years of GMOs are more than enough

· No increase in yields; on the contrary GM soya decreased yields by up to 20 percent compared with non-GM soya [4], and up to 100 percent failures of Bt cotton have been recorded in India [6]. New studies confirmed these findings. Research from the University of Kansas found a 10 percent yield drag for Roundup Ready soya [9] that required extra manganese applied to the soil to make up the yield deficit. A team of scientists from the USDA and the University of Georgia found growing GM cotton in the US could result in a drop in income by up to 40 percent [10, 11] (Transgenic Cotton Offers No Advantage, SiS 38)

· No reduction in pesticides use; on the contrary, USDA data showed that GM crops increase pesticide use by 50 million pounds from 1996 to 2003 in the United States [4]. New data paint an even grimmer picture: the use of glyphosate on major crops went up more than 15-fold between 1994 and 2005, along with increases in other herbicides [12] in order to cope with rising glyphosate resistant superweeds [6]. Roundup tolerant canola volunteers are top among the worries of Canadian farmers [13, 14] (Study Based on Farmers’ Experience Exposes Risks of GM Crops, SiS 38)

· Roundup herbicide is lethal to frogs and toxic to human placental and embryonic cells [6]. Roundup is used in more than 80 percent of all GM crops planted in the world

· GM crops harm wildlife, as revealed by UK’s farm scale evaluations [6], and more recently in a study led by Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois in the United Stated, which found that wastes from Bt corn impaired the growth of a common aquatic insect [15, 16] (Bt Crops Threaten Aquatic Ecosystems, SiS 36)

· Bt resistance pests and Roundup tolerant superweeds render the two major GM crop traits practically useless [6]. A recent review concluded that [17] “evolved glyphosate-resistant weeds are a major risk for the continued success of glyphosate and transgenic glyphosate-resistant crops.” And the evolution of Bt resistant bollworms worldwide have now been confirmed and documented in more than a dozen fields in Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006 [18]

· Vast areas of forests, pampas and cerrados lost to GM soya in Latin America, 15 m hectares in Argentina alone [6]; and this has worsened considerably with the demand for biofuels (see later)

· Epidemic of suicides in the cotton belt of India involving 100 000 farmers between 1993-2003, and a further 16 000 farmers a year have died since Bt cotton was introduced [6]

· Transgene contamination unavoidable, scientists find GM pollination of non-GM crops and wild relatives 21 kilometres away [19]

· GM food and feed linked to deaths and sicknesses both in the fields in India and in lab tests around the world (more below)

GM food and feed inherently hazardous to health [7]

Here are some highlights from our GM Science dossier [6] on the hazards of GM food and feed. Dr. Irina Ermakova of the Russian Academy of Sciences showed how GM soya made female rats give birth to severely stunted and abnormal litters, with more than half dying in three weeks, and those remaining are sterile. Hundreds of villagers and cotton handlers in India suffer allergy-like symptoms, thousands of sheep died after grazing on the Bt cotton residues, goat and cows as well were reported in 2007 and 2008 [20] (Mass Protests against GM Crops in India , SiS 38). A harmless bean protein transferred to pea when tested on mice cause severe inflammation in the lungs and provoked generalised food sensitivities. Dozens of villagers in the south of the Philippines fell ill when neighbouring GM maize fields came into flower in 2003, five have died and some remain ill to this day. A dozen cows died having eaten GM maize in Hesse Germany and more in the herd had to be slaughtered from mysterious illnesses. Arpad Pusztai and his colleagues in the UK found GM potatoes with snowdrop lectin damaged every organ system of young rats; the stomach lining grew twice as thick as controls. Chickens fed GM maize Chardon LL were twice as likely to die as controls. And finally, GM maize Mon 863 was claimed to be as safe as non-GM maize by the company, and accepted as such by European Food Safety Authority. But independent scientists of CriiGen in France re-analysed the data and found signs of liver and kidney toxicity.

Different animals and human beings exposed to a variety of transgenic crops with different traits either fall ill or die. The evidence compels us to consider the possibility that the hazards of GMOs may be inherent to the technology, as I suggested more than ten years ago [1].

Litter from female rat fed GM soya (bottom) compared with control

(from Dr. Erina Ermakova)

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jueves, junio 19, 2008

Genetic Engineering - A Crop of Hyperbole

The food crisis is much in the news. It is also on the minds of the biotech industry, which is using rising food worries to suggest, contrary to the evidence, that genetically engineered, or GE, crops are needed to help the world feed itself. The recent spike in food prices is due to increased demand, drought and trade policies rather than to inadequate global production. But world population is growing, so it is worthwhile to consider the role of GE for ensuring adequate, affordable and sustainable food in the future.

After 20 years of GE research and 13 years of commercialization, GE crops have a track record that allows us to evaluate their future prospects. And so far, they have shown little progress on the biggest food production issues, such as intrinsic yield, stress tolerance and improving sustainability. The weak performance to date raises questions about how much more of our scarce research dollars should be devoted to this controversial technology. Moreover, the lax regulation of both food safety and environmental risks from GE also remains to be addressed, especially in developing countries that often have no regulatory infrastructure to evaluate GE crops.

Most relevant for food sufficiency are properties such as yield – producing more on available land – and better use of resources, especially in the face of climate change. Agriculture already accounts for about 70 percent of human water use, so using less water to grow crops is increasingly important. And because current industrialized agriculture often degrades soil and causes substantial pollution from fertilizers, pesticides and climate-changing gases, we need to do a better job of producing food without degrading the environment.

Let's be clear. As of this year, there are no commercialized GE crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GE crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.

The most widely grown GE crop in the United States, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, has not increased yield above its conventional non-GE counterparts, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture trend data and numerous field studies. Insect-resistant GE crops have sometimes indirectly improved yields by reducing insect damage – so-called operations yield. But such yield increases have been modest, and recent studies suggest that much of the apparent improvements may be due to other advances, such as from conventional breeding. New innovations, using new insights from our growing knowledge of crop genetics, are improving the versatility and speed of these established, productive breeding techniques, without using GE.

What about environmental benefits? Those, too, have been modest at best.

Cutting through the rhetoric, overall pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) has not been reduced through GE. Although there may have been some initial reductions, recent U.S. data suggest that herbicide use in GE crops is now significantly higher than it was prior to their introduction. Weeds that have developed resistance to the herbicide used with GE crops now infest several million acres, forcing greater herbicide use. Insect-resistant GE crops have reduced overall insecticide use somewhat, but on balance GE crops have not reduced our dependence on pesticides.

Soil erosion and degradation can be reduced by reducing tillage. And reduced tillage often accompanies GE herbicide-tolerant crops. But reduced-till methods were on the rise prior to the adoption of GE crops. The USDA reported in 2002 that the data did not point to GE as a significant contributor to reduced tillage.

In many cases we can accomplish the same or better results at less expense by applying the science of agroecology. Insecticide use can be reduced by alternating the use of more crop types rather than growing nothing but corn, or only corn and soybeans. Soil erosion can be largely eliminated by the common organic practice of using cover crops between seasons. These and other practices improve soil, which thereby retains more water, helping crops during droughts. Large improvements in water use can be achieved through technologies such as drip irrigation rather than wasteful methods commonly used now.

Many of these issues are discussed in a recently published report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, sponsored by the World Bank and U.N., which concluded that the role of GE in improving food security in the developing world should be secondary to other approaches.

Finally, to the extent that GE may provide benefits in the future, GE must be adequately regulated to ensure food safety and protect the environment. Unfortunately, the United States, with industry support, has neglected the regulation of GE crops. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve the safety of GE foods; it simply ushers them into the market. The FDA has only a voluntary regulatory process for GE food safety, fundamentally unchanged since 1992, that requires no specific safety tests and largely allows companies to determine the tests they conduct. USDA was criticized in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences for insufficient scientific rigor in its environmental safety assessments, and has recently lost several cases in federal courts for its lax regulation. Its own inspector general severely criticized its regulatory apparatus in 2005. USDA is revising its regulations, but current drafts do not adequately address previous criticisms.

The challenge of growing and distributing food for a hungry world deserves serious attention. So far the inflated claims of the biotechnology industry are not backed up by scientific evidence, but its rosy rhetoric obscures our choices. This can keep us from investing in tools such as conventional breeding and agroecology that, based on their track record, should be leading the way to helping the world feed itself.

Gurian-Sherman is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.

  • Monsanto still reading blogs
  • PR firm Edleman launches charm offensive for the GMO giant
    By Tom Philpott
    Gristmill, June 13, 2008
    Straight to the Source

Not so long ago, I was an utterly obscure farmer-blogger dashing off indictments of industrial agriculture for some 30 loyal readers (many of them house-mates and relatives).

And then, evidently by the miracle of the Google search, a functionary from Monsanto's legal office discovered my blog and fired off a cease-and-desist letter. I published it, added a tart response, and alerted a few editors to the exchange. Within days, my site meter showed thousands of readers piling in. Within months I had a paid writing gig. Thanks, Monsanto! Evidently, the GMO seed giant is still paying folks to scan Google for blogs that dare criticize it -- only now it has evidently outsourced the task to the PR-flack powerhouse Edelman.

Just today, a week after we published a (highly sarcastic) guest post by Claire Hope Cummings titled "All Hail Monsanto," a gentleman from Edelman wrote to one of my Grist colleagues to offer his services "tracking down information or putting one of you in contact with a representative from Monsanto that can insightfully answer any questions you may have concerning the company and its sustainability goals."

You never know -- we might just take him up on that.

I have recently heard similar tales from other food-politics bloggers who have had the unbridled nerve to question Monsanto's benevolence: A cordial email from an Edelman employee offering informational services that might better explain Monsanto's intentions.

In her post that inspired the Edelman missive, Cummings had some fun at the expense of Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant for declaring that "Skepticism is a commodity the world can't afford right now." What he meant was: Let us benevolent experts take care of the food supply -- you consumers just shut up and eat!

Well, I'm here to inform our readers over at Edelman that while we're always open to new information, we'd prefer to keep our skepticism well-honed, thank you very much.

And while we're happy to engage in friendly email exchanges, we also remember that Monsanto is fully capable of turning that smile upside-down -- and even baring its fangs. I remember that cease-and-desist letter. I also note that, according to a 2005 Center for Food Safety report (PDF), Monsanto wields an "annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers" deemed to violate its draconian gene-patent claims.

Read comments at:

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GE Wheat is Not the Solution to Drought

Sydney, Wednesday 18th June, 2008: Reacting to the Victorian Premier John Brumby's statement championing genetically engineered (GE) wheat as a solution to drought at a conference in the US, Greenpeace has accused the biotechnology industry of using the drought as an opportunity to foist GE crops on a justifiably suspicious public.

Louise Sales, Genetic Engineering Campaigner with Greenpeace says "Genetically engineered wheat is not grown commercially anywhere in the world nor accepted by any market, which is why even major GE crop producers such as the US and Canada have rejected it. Consumers simply do not want GE in their daily bread ­ and with good reason ­ there is growing evidence that GE crops are harmful to the environment and may be harmful to human health."

"The biotechnology industry thinks it can use drought tolerant GE crops to overcome consumer resistance to GE crops. However there are better techniques to develop drought tolerant crops that don't pose the same unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. The real reason the biotechnology industry wants use GE is that it can then patent the seed ­requiring farmers to buy new seed every year" she added.

Safe drought resistant crops can be developed using either traditional breeding or modern biotechnology techniques such as marker assisted selection (MAS). MAS does not result in a GE crop, but utilises our knowledge of DNA and the genome to breed new plant varieties. MAS has already been successfully used to develop non-GE drought tolerant canola in Victoria, which should be available to farmers this year.

A recent UN report, produced by over 400 of the world's leading scientists acknowledged that GE crops are highly controversial and will not play a substantial role in addressing the key problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, hunger and poverty.

Contacts: Louise Sales, Genetic Engineering Campaigner: 0438 679 263
Ruchira Talukdar, Media Officer: 0407 414 572

Notes to the Editor:
1. Victorian Government (2006) Media Release: Victorian scientist develop drought tolerant canola,

2. International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) final report

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No hay coexistencia posible

Portada del informe “La coexistencia sigue siendo  imposible-Testimonios de la contaminación” Greenpeace describe algunos  casos de contaminación a través de entrevistas directas con los  afectados

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“La coexistencia sigue siendo imposible-Testimonios de la contaminación”

Greenpeace ha presentado hoy un nuevo documento que recoge una serie de testimonios de productores que han sufrido directa o indirectamente la contaminación por el maíz transgénico de Monsanto, MON 810, durante el año 2007 y cuyas realidades socio-económicas se ven fuertemente agredidas por la presencia de este transgénico en nuestros campos. Sin pretender ofrecer una visión exhaustiva de la situación del maíz en España, esta nueva colección de testimonios muestra una realidad evidente: el MON 810 es un grave problema y la situación que se vive en el único país cuyo Gobierno tolera la presencia de transgénicos a escala comercial en la UE es desastrosa, no solamente para el medio ambiente sino también para la economía rural y agraria.

“La producción ecológica es económica y socialmente rentable, además de aportar enormes beneficios para la salud. Es la producción agraria y ganadera del futuro. La única capaz de garantizar un desarrollo sostenible que una los saberes antiguos y las nuevas investigaciones puestas en manos de la sociedad. Los transgénicos impiden ese progreso hacia un mundo mejor”, es el testimonio de un productor ecológico aragonés que ha sufrido repetidamente la contaminación de sus cosechas por el maíz insecticida de Monsanto.

Cada vez hay más datos científicos sobre los peligros de los transgénicos para la salud y para el medio ambiente. Existe un creciente escepticismo con respecto a los transgénicos en general y sobre el MON 810 en particular por parte de algunos sectores de la Comisión Europea y un buen número de estados miembros. De hecho, por el momento siete países han puesto en marcha moratorias al cultivo de organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG) debido a los peligros que conllevan (1). “Sin embargo España, con un Gobierno supuestamente progresista a la cabeza, sigue liderando esta loca carrera hacia una agricultura más tóxica y más transgénica”, ha afirmado Juan-Felipe Carrasco, responsable de la campaña de transgénicos de Greenpeace.

En 2006 Greenpeace presentaba, junto a las organizaciones Assemblea Pagesa de Catalunya y Plataforma Transgènics Fora, el informe “La Imposible Coexistencia”, en el cual se mostraba, a través de una amplia investigación, la verdadera situación de los cultivos transgénicos en España. Analizando las realidades de Cataluña y Aragón, el texto constituyó un testimonio real sobre la inviabilidad de la “coexistencia” de la agricultura transgénica con los modelos sin transgénicos.

Este nuevo informe confirma todo lo que en aquella ocasión se puso de relieve y describe, basándose en la experiencia del año 2007 en las comunidades de Aragón, Cataluña y Castilla la Mancha, las repercusiones socioeconómicas y humanas de la presencia de maíz transgénico en nuestro territorio, mostrando la alarmante reducción de la superficie de maíz ecológico y las consecuencias directas y reales que los OMG tienen sobre la población.

Conviene recordar que la contaminación de alimentos no transgénicos por OMG puede producirse a lo largo de toda la cadena alimentaria, tal y como demuestran los estudios científicos realizados al respecto. Si bien este informe describe algunos ejemplos de productores y elaboradores del sector ecológico, ello no significa en absoluto que la agricultura y la ganadería ecológica sean las únicas víctimas de la contaminación genética, más bien lo contrario: ninguna producción, salvo la ecológica, es sometida a tantos análisis, estudios y evaluación. Los alimentos convencionales (no ecológicos) no son analizados a pesar de que las leyes europeas de etiquetado y trazabilidad obliguen a ello, pero se sabe que las producciones convencionales están ampliamente contaminadas por transgénicos. En países como Estados Unidos, pioneros en el empleo de OMG, el banco de semillas convencional está ya contaminado en unos porcentajes alarmantemente altos (2).

La situación de los transgénicos en España sigue siendo extremadamente preocupante, con una absoluta falta de transparencia, inexistente trazabilidad, descontrol de los cultivos experimentales y decenas de nuevas variedades modificadas genéticamente (MG) aprobadas. El Gobierno español sigue tolerando el cultivo de un maíz, el MON 810, cuya peligrosidad ha sido claramente demostrada (3).

En España son ya cuatro las Comunidades que se han declarado libres de transgénicos (Asturias, Euskadi, Canarias y Baleares), junto a más de 50 municipios en todo el Estado. “El Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino no puede seguir manteniendo la situación actual. Otros muchos países europeos han tomado medidas activas para prohibir estos cultivos y proteger la salud de sus ciudadanos y el medio ambiente”, añade Carrasco.
A la vista de la experiencia del año 2007, de las repercusiones socioeconómicas y humanas de la presencia de maíz transgénico en nuestro territorio y de la contaminación genética, es imprescindible que el Gobierno vea esta realidad y actúe en consecuencia. “La única alternativa es alinearse con los otros grandes productores de maíz de la UE, reconocer la imposibilidad de la coexistencia y declarar una moratoria contra el maíz insecticida de Monsanto”, concluye Carrasco.

(1) Rumanía (primer productor de maíz europeo con 3 millones de hectáreas) se convirtió recientemente en el séptimo estado miembro que prohíbe las variedades transgénicas, siguiendo el movimiento de Francia, Hungría, Italia, Grecia, Austria y Polonia.

(2) Tal y como se concluye, por ejemplo, en un informe realizado a escala nacional y publicado en 2004, en EEUU más del 50% de las semillas “convencionales” de maíz y soja, y hasta un 83% de las de colza, contienen ya información genética procedente de las variedades transgénicas.

(3) En el mes de enero, a raíz de las nuevas evidencias científicas y ante la acumulación de incertidumbres tecnológicas y medio ambientales, el gobierno francés puso en marcha una moratoria sobre este mismo maíz. El ejecutivo de Sarkozy se acogió para ello a la “Cláusula de Salvaguardia” de la directiva sobre transgénicos 2001/18, prevista para aquellos casos en que un estado miembro disponga de datos según los cuales un OMG constituya un riesgo para la salud o el medio ambiente.

El informe se puede descargar en este enlace.

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miércoles, junio 18, 2008

Monsanto's Gene-Altered Cotton in Asia Developing Pest Resistance from Mealy Bugs & Bollworms

1. Mealy bug threatens cotton crop in state
2. The mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed 3. Pest resistance rising

NOTE: Evidence out of China has already shown any initial reductions in pesticide use from Bt cotton being eroded by new pest problems. The researchers warned the same patern was likely to be repeated elsewhere, and this seems to be exactly what's happening in India (where major pest problems have been besetting Bt cotton in the Punjab, Vidarbha and Haryana - items 1 and 2), the US and South Africa (item 3).
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1. Mealy bug threatens cotton crop in state
RAJENDRA KHATRY Express India, June 18 2008

2. The mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed
Science in Society #38 Summer 2008

Letters to the Editor

Deadly gift from Monsanto to India

To follow up on your articles, Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India (SiS 27) and Message from Andra Predesh: Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt cotton trap (SiS 29), I enclose photographs of mealy bugs infested cotton plants in the demonstration plots of different seed companies in Vidarbha: Ganga Kavari, Paras Bbhrahma, and Banny. All of the plots have the Bollgard label. These mealy bugs have never been in our region on any plants before Bt cotton was introduced. I learned about the devastation of cotton in China two years ago. This alerted me to photograph and video the demonstration plots regularly. So, anybody can say with confidence now that the mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed.

Now when the cotton plants have died, the mealy bug is shifting to nearby plants. By mid June, farmers will go for the new cotton crop or plant another crop. But before that, the bug will have multiplied like any thing. It has shifted to Congress weed nearby, and many other weeds and plants in gardens.

Read the rest of the letters and see the photographs here
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3. Pest resistance rising

+ USA: INSECT PRESSURE SHIFTING In the Southeast and Mid-South, stink bugs and plant bugs including lygus, tarnished plant bugs and cotton fleahoppers have become the primary problems on Bt cotton, which has provided an ideal environment for stink bugs and plant bugs to flourish.

+ SUPER BOLLWORM COMETH In the USA bollworms are developing resistance to Bt cotton - bollworms being the pest that Bt cotton was supposed to kill - and commercial pressures look set to weaken the refuge strategy that might have slowed down rising resistance.

+ RESISTANCE DEVELOPING IN SOUTH AFRICA TOO In South Africa the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has published trial results that indicate stalk-borer larvae have developed resistance to Bt maize plants.

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