miércoles, marzo 31, 2010

Graham Brookes, objetivo y neutral. ¡Que buen chiste!

He aquí el perfil profesional del economista agrícola Graham Brookes, a quien El Nuevo Día consultó para pedirle su opinión experta sobre los transgénicos en el reportaje publicado en la sección Negocios en la edición del domingo 7 de febrero titulado "Germina la Innovación". Léanlo bien. ¡Vaya experto "objetivo y neutral"!

http://www.spinprofiles.org/ index.php/PG_Economics



Bust the Trust! – The Department of Justice Takes on Agribusiness

By Annie Shattuck

Agribusiness has become the new class of robber barons, but these monopolists have suddenly found themselves under some uncomfortable public scrutiny.

Friday the Department of Justice began its series of listening sessions on concentration in agribusiness. The DOJ is investigating corporations like Dean Foods for gouging dairy farmers and manipulating prices. They are looking into companies like the Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS for dominating the notoriously concentrated and increasingly dirty meatpacking industry. They are even taking on the ultimate agricultural Goliath: Monsanto.

The U.S. created anti-trust laws at the turn of the last century to ensure competitive markets and protect consumers from price gouging. This legislation was most famously used to break up the control of the robber barons – the industry fat cats who owned monopolies on America’s railroads, oil and steel, including the chokehold Rockefeller’s Standard Oil wielded on America’s energy supplies.

Fast forward 80 years and we are in a similar situation: a handful of companies keep a stranglehold on our food supply. Over 80% of US beef is packed by just four companies. Monsanto’s patented traits are on some 80% of US corn acres. One company controls 40% of US milk supply, and five companies sell about half of US groceries, which ensures that the low prices paid to farmers aren’t necessarily passed onto consumers.

At a town hall meeting Thursday night in Iowa, Southern Iowa family dairy farmer Jerry Harvey summed up the situation of many of America’s family farmers “What was the American dream turned out to be the American nightmare the last 15 months…We haven’t even made enough money to pay our feed costs the last 15 months. We’ve borrowed $5-6,000 a month. My kids that work with me – they are going to be gone too because we just can’t keep going like this.”

The price of paid to farmers for milk has dropped by nearly 50% in the past 15 months, while retail milk prices have not come down nearly so far.
Action by the Department of Justice would have an immediate impact on farmers. Arkansas farmer Harvey Howington summed up the situation, “We have the same problems with the seed companies…they want to squeeze us on our inputs, they want to squeeze us for every dollar they can get out of us.”

But while gouging farmers is bad enough, these monopolies have found another way to gouge consumers: by using their sheer size and political weight to get at government handouts.

The teeth in America’s nearly century old anti-trust laws are about protecting consumers at the cash register. But corporations have figured out how to increase costs to consumers indirectly. Take WalMart for example. The retail grocery chain controls some 10% of the US grocery market. The top five firms control nearly half the market – not exactly the capitalist ideal of free and competitive. Where do we see the effects of this concentration? Not at the checkout line, but in other, more subtle ways. The State of California shells out $86 million yearly in public benefits like Medicare and Food Stamps to active WalMart employees making sub-poverty wages. Management routinely encourages employees to seek public assistance to beef up their wages.

Where else might we see it? In the broken immigration system, in shifting environmental costs (From 2003-2007, US taxpayers shelled out nearly $200 million to clean up after industrial dairy and hog operations), in the ability of firms to secure subsides (ADM, one of the top three global grain traders has been called the “biggest recipient of corporate welfare in US history” by the conservative Cato Institute), and in the lost opportunities for real entrepreneurs to ever get ahead.

The Obama administration’s choice to investigate the barons of agribusiness is historic. But it cannot stop there. The Justice Department is holding listening sessions all over the country to hear about how people are affected, and what they are about to hear is yes, farmers are being gouged, along with everyone else.

To find out more or learn how to request a hearing where you live, visit bustthetrust.org.


Holder calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement, Rural America Hopeful Once Again

March 16th, 2010

David Murphy

ANKENY, IA — There are moments in a nation’s history that define it. For America’s remaining 2 million farmers (less than 1% of the population) and the more than 300 million eaters, the recent joint Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture workshop on lack of competition in the food and agricultural sectors held in Ankeny, Iowa is potentially one of those moments.

With concentration at record levels in agriculture today, well past levels that encourage or even allow fair prices or competition, the Obama administration’s call for public workshops is an historic event. While agribusiness continues to deny any problem, a simple look at the facts shows that the playing field for family farmers and American consumers is distorted beyond anything resembling a free or competitive market.

Even though these statistics have been widely published lately, I will include them here again just to illustrate the point: 1 company (Monsanto) controls the genetics of 93% of soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in the U.S; 4 companies (Tyson, Cargill, Swift & National Beef Packing Co.) control 85% of the beef packing industry; 4 companies (Smithfield, Tyson, Swift & Cargill) control 66% of the pork packing industry.

For farmers trying to get a fair price for seeds or livestock, such concentration places a crushing burden on their bottom line.

This past Friday nearly 800 individuals from across the country gathered in a small community college auditorium to hear top officials in the Obama administration, including cabinet members Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (former governor of Iowa) and Attorney General Eric Holder, address the issue of how such excessive market concentration and food monopolies have negatively impacted the lives and livelihoods of family farmers, consumers and rural America. Over the course of eight hours, the audience, made up mostly of farmers, labor workers and farm advocates, some of whom traveled from as far as Montana, Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina, listened as academics, economists, agribusiness representatives, commodity groups and a few farmers detailed specific areas of concern regarding the lack of competition in agricultural markets or, in the case of a several industry reps, denied outright the existence of any problem.

The gravity of this meeting and its outcome could be felt by all attendees as Vilsack, Holder, DOJ antitrust chief Christine Varney, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and others took the stage for the first panel. A sense of anticipation and restlessness filled the crowd as the panel was announced, which included Iowa’s attorney general, Tom Miller, Congressman Leonard Boswell, Lt. Governor Patty Judge and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. The inclusion of the last three panelists, while expected, caused some dismay by longtime Iowa farm activists. Having two Democrats (Boswell and Judge) and a Republican (Northey) at the podium with a long history of supporting industrial agriculture was not what many had hoped for when the workshops were first announced.


Etiquetas: ,

martes, marzo 30, 2010

Article by Paula Crossfield

Confident after his success with health insurance reform, President Obama exerted his executive power on Saturday by making fifteen appointments during the Senate's recess. Among the appointments was Islam Siddiqui, who will now be serving as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (I've written here about what that job entails).

Siddiqui had been working since 2001 as a lobbyist and then later as vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, a lobbying organization for the pesticide and biotech industries. CropLife famously sent Michelle Obama a letter trying to convince her to use pesticides on her organic garden on the White House lawn. But while that move pushed the group into the media spotlight, behind the scenes the group in which Siddiqui has had a strong hand in leading has been lobbying to weaken regulations on biotechnology, pesticides and other agriculture chemicals both in the US and abroad, including securing exemption for American farmers in a worldwide ban of the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide in 2006, taking part in secret discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency to be allowed to test pesticides on children, and Siddiqui personally chided the European Union for "denying food to starving people" for using the precautionary principle in the case of GMOs.

While his nomination was held up for other, partisan reasons, over 80 environmental, consumer and farm groups opposed the nomination in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, and tens of thousands of people called their senators and signed a petition in opposition. But as President Obama ramps up his effort to increase our exports in agricultural and other products abroad (which I critiqued here), he has sought a warm body to fill this position -- and I've suggested before, a 'bad cop' to balance Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's 'good cop' abroad.

The Pesticide Action Network North America was one of the groups opposing Siddiqui's nomination, and Senior Scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman had this to say about his posting:

It is unfortunate that many of President Obama's nominations have been held up, largely due to partisan politics. But what President Obama seriously misjudged this weekend when he appointed Siddiqui without allowing a full Senate vote is that a huge swath of the American public is outraged at the idea of putting a former pesticide lobbyist in charge of US agricultural trade.

When 90,000 people petition their public servants (which is what Senators and the President are, after all) to say that a nomination is unacceptable, and that these revolving door appointments have to stop, and the President proceeds anyhow, what I see is a dereliction of duty. Expediency trumping democracy is how we end up with industry lobbyists running the regulatory agencies in the first place.

The forces protesting Siddiqui are not fringe, are growing, and will prove more powerful than I think President Obama wants to acknowledge. This March over 100 groups --including family farmers and farmworkers, anti-hunger, faith-based, sustainable agriculture, consumer and environmental groups across the country --wrote their Senators a second time, reiterating their opposition to this appointment in no uncertain terms.

During his confirmation hearing, Siddiqui attempted to appease public criticism, claiming that he would include the views of both organic and conventional agriculture--but we know from his tenure at USDA that Siddiqui's vision of organic farming includes use of toxic sludge, GMOs and irradiation.

Siddiqui also pledged to recuse himself for two years from taking part in decisions directly affecting his former employer. But this so-called "ethics pledge" does nothing to assure the American public that Siddiqui will value and protect the interests, health and livelihoods of family farmers, farmworkers, rural communities and urban consumers, over the interests of large multinational agribusinesses. Just about everything Siddiqui has said indicates his ongoing support for what is widely viewed as a failed model of agriculture that has led to dumping cheap and unhealthy agricultural products on consumers, polluting our air and water, and preventing small-scale and family farmers from being able to make a decent living.

What it comes down to is this: Both Siddiqui and Congress now face a well-informed and outraged citizenry as well as an unprecedented mobilization of public interest groups. The American public will be closely monitoring Siddiqui at his new job, and evaluating whether his actions will truly benefit small-scale family farmers in the US and abroad, workers, consumers and the environment--or whether they will benefit large corporations such as Monsanto, JPS, Cargill and Archer Daniel Midland.

Siddiqui's posting is a serious setback for those hoping for "fair trade" and for those who believed that President Obama had sustainable agriculture on his agenda. This Chief Agricultural Negotiator means business as usual.

Follow Paula Crossfield on Twitter: www.twitter.com/civileater


Etiquetas: , ,

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero *

Adital -

Tradução: ADITAL

Desde a década dos 80, Porto Rico tem sido uma importante plataforma da indústria de biotecnologia para experimentação e propagação de suas sementes transgênicas. Essas atividades de investigação e desenvolvimento estão em vésperas de aumentar a uma escala ainda maior, segundo um artigo publicado no diário local El Nuevo Día, em sua edição de 7 de fevereiro de 2010. Citamos textualmente a reportagem:

"Saúl Rosado, presidente da Puerto Rico Seed Research Association, confirmou que, para atender à crescente demanda por sementes, as subsidiárias em Porto Rico de multinacionais dos Estados Unidos e da Europa estão em vias de expandir suas operações... Manuel Pérez, gerente do Projeto de Milho, da Monsanto Caribe, confirmou que a empresa na ilha também tem planos de expansão".

Na ilha existem atualmente nove companhias sementeiras, todas agrupadas sob a PR Seed Research Association, que inclue a Monsanto, a Syngenta, a Pioneer, a Dow Agroscience e a Bayer Cropscience. Essas companhias têm, em Porto Rico, mais de 5.570 áreas (cuerdas) semeadas com milho, soja, sorgo, girassol, algodão e outros cultivos nos municípios de Lajas, Sabana Grande, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Salinas, Guayama, Isabela e Aguadilla. A grande maioria dos cultivos transgênicos do mundo é de milho, soja e algodão.

A estadunidense Monsanto, a maior companhia sementeira do mundo, que controla 90% do mercado mundial de semente transgênica, está em porto Rico sob o nome de Monsanto Caribe, desde 1983, diz a página web da Monsanto Porto Rico. Na cidade de Juana Díaz, na costa sul da ilha, a companhia tem uns dois mil acres onde semeiam soja, milho, algodão e sorgo.

No município de Isabela, no nordeste da ilha, no lado sul da estrada número 2, a Monsanto Caribe tem escritórios e uns 325 acres de cultivos. Pelo outro lado da estrada está uma subestação experimental da Universidade de Porto Rico (UPR), onde está sendo desenvolvido, com o financiamento da Fundação Bill & Melinda Gates, um tipo de macaxeira transgênica para ser usada na África. Essa macaxeira está sendo alterada geneticamente para incrementar seu conteúdo de vitamina A, ferro, zinco e proteína.

Este projeto está a cargo de Dimuth Siritunga, professor do Recinto Universitário de Mayagüez da UPR (RUM), que também dirige o programa Biocassava Plus, da Fundação Gates, que se propõe aumentar as propriedades nutritivas da macaxeira na África mediante métodos de fitomelhoramento convencional e biotecnologia transgênica. O RUM é uma das onze instituições participantes de Biocassava Plus, a principal é o Danforth Plant Science Center, instituição sem fins lucrativos, situada na cidade estadunidense de Saint Louis. Este centro foi fundado em 1998 com dinheiro da Fundação Monsanto Fund. O chefe da Monsanto, Hugh Grant, está na junta diretiva da Danforth.

Diz o repórter Tom Philpott, da revista ambiental Grist, que "me parece justo dizer que a Danforth é o brazço sem fins lucrativos de investigação da Monsanto".

Aura Alfaro "Crean 'superyuca' en Mayagüez" El Nuevo Día, 28 de febrero 2010.
Aura Alfaro "Germina la innovación" El Nuevo Día, 7 de febrero 2010.
Biocassava Plus http://biocassavaplus.org/
Danforth Plant Science Center. http://www.danforthcenter.org/
Monsanto Puerto Rico http://www.monsanto.pr/nuestra_empresa/historia/monsanto_puertorico.asp
Tom Philpott "USDA research chief concerned about 'safety of organic food'" Grist Magazine, 2 de marzo 2010. http://www.grist.org/article/usda-research-chief-concerned-about-safety-of-organic-food
Para más información:

[Em espanhol, foi publicado em: http://www.ircamericas.org/esp/6695]


Etiquetas: ,

lunes, marzo 29, 2010

GE FREE FUTURE - The European bus tour - Bob reports from the road

Our GE-free bus is currently on tour around Europe - calling for a moratorium on all genetically engineered produce in the EU in order to protect consumers, farmers and the environment.

The GE Free Bus leaves Greenpeace International Headquarters in Amsterdam

24 March: GMO bus tour leaving Amsterdam

Green light to risky GMOs? No way!

It was an early spring afternoon when the Greeenpeace GE FREE FUTURE campaign bus left Amsterdam, saying goodbye to people waving and shouting their best wishes to the 4 crew members of the bus. Many memberstates, farmers and consumers had the hope that the new European Commission is really going to take to the will, choice and worries of citizens, farmers and concerned Memberstates. That they will finally revise the authorization of Genetic engineered (GE) crops as Memberstates asked for it at the end of 2008. It did not. They authorized a GE potato instead with their first decision in an undemocratic way. A potato which could cause antibiotic resistance, so could reduce the efficiency of certain important medicines. A potato which could mean threat to health, environment and to economy. And that is not all - many more GE crops could still to come, which are already waiting for approval.


I was frustrated and angry at the same time because I can easily see the nightmare that a group of 27 is forcefeeding 500 million europen citizens. So, I happily joined the Greenpeace GE FREE FUTURE bus tour. We want to send the message to the Barroso led Commission and to all governemnts in EU that people do not want genetically modified food on their plate, seeds in the land, feed on their farm. Because it is not sure, whether they are safe, they are not helping farmers and they are more difficult to sell.

The "bus" originally came from Germany. It was used for airpollution measurements in the past in several countries inlcuding Austria, Argentina and Brasil, too. A team of activists and experts repaired the 19-year-old bus, changed its' interior and put additional features into it. This bus, for me more like a truck, could carry 5 people at the same time and had a separate room at the back.

Our German activists converted the container at the back to a traditional farmer "grandma's kitchen" with cupboard, cooker, dinner table, armchairs and even a stove. Decorated with fancy retro wallpapers and paintings, the bus has a videocamera attached to the wall to record everyone’s message to Barroso. The idea is to sit down at the table and give your receipt for a GE-free future, to send their message to European Commission and their own government about GE.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>FOLLOW THE BUS ON FACEBOOK<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


Greenpeace staff wave farewell as the GE Free Bus leaves Greenpeace International Headquarters in Amsterdam

Being a Hungarian I could get to know the other crew members of the bus: Emma, the British photograper, Jens, our German driver and mechanic and Jean-Jacques, the captain of the whole bus tour. who is coordinating the trip through 7 European countries.We had to be in Luxembourg city by the evening and the bus was much slower than I expected, so we could not enjoy the Dutch and Belgian landscape for long, however Emma could not avoid taking nice photos with tipical wooden windmill and our bus. Luckily. That's how I had to realize again, that the Dutch countryside is really really different from the Hungarian, much more organized and - at least for me - ours seems to be much more diverse. This is what I intend to show to everyone when we get to Hungary next week! The chanels fascinated me, though - used for agriculture, transport, fishing, sports, but fragmented the Dutch lowlands.

The team arrives to Luxembourg

We started to get to know each other fast. Jean-Jacques (JJ) came up with his travel stories and which became kick starter: weird stories followed each other. We got to know who is doing what and since when for Greenpeace.

Late at night we got to Luxembourg city and finally met Fredrik, the Swedish activist, who is interested in good food, agriculture, self-sustainable life and organic farming. He was put in deep water immediately: Maurice, the sustainable agriculture campaigner of the local Greenpeace office was waiting for us and explained our detailed programme for the coming two days! You should have been there! - all faces shocked by seeing the number of meetings he organized for the next day. A rally! Organic farmer presidents, farmer school directors, consumer union representatives, majors, cooks, and ministers were supposed to meet the GE FREE FUTURE bus tour.

Since we were not all experienced with the equipment, and wanted to discuss what steps are necessary to keep it secure and how to organize interior fast, in case a minister comes to send a video message to Barroso from our traditional farmer kitchen, it was almost midnight, when we still had to prepare to be good. We were carrying valuable publication on the roof of the bus, full of references to scientific studies which could mean treasure for the ones who want to ban GMOs in Europe. Maurice was worried about loosing them, so we decided to guard it and Jens volunteered to sleep in the bus.

Got to bed Supertired, but all enthousiastic seeing the importance of our tour in Luxemburg.

Balázs "Bob" Tömöri, GE Campaigner from Hungary

Click here to join us! Take Action! Write to President Barroso!

Picture credit: © Emma Stoner / Greenpeace, 03/24/2010, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


PUERTO RICO: The Transgenic Caribbean

CIP Americas Policy Program
Puerto Rico is an important
platform for transgenic seeds

Since the 1980s Puerto Rico has been for the biotechnology industry an important platform for experimentation with and propagation of its genetically modified (GM or transgenic) seeds. These research and development activities are on the verge of increasing substantially in scale, according to an article published in the local daily, El Nuevo Dia, on February 7, 2010. According to the article,

"Saúl Rosado, president of the Puerto Rico Seed Research Association, confirmed that in order to meet the growing demand for seeds, the subsidiaries of American and European multinationals are in the process of expanding their operations … Manuel Pérez, chief of the Maize Project of Monsanto Caribe confirmed that that company also had plans to expand on the island."

At present there are nine seed companies on the island, all members of the PR Seed Research Association. These include Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, Dow Agroscience, and Bayer Cropscience. These companies have about 5,736 acres sown in maize, soy, sorghum, sunflowers, cotton, and other crops in the municipalities of Lajas, Sabana Grande, Juana Díaz, Santa Iabel, Salinas, Guyama, Isabela, and Aguadilla. The great majority of GM crops world-wide consist of maize, soy, and cotton.

The U.S.-based Monsanto, the largest seed company in the world and which controls 90% of the world GM seed market, has been in Puerto Rico under the name Monsanto Caribe since 1983, according to the Monsanto Puerto Rico web page. In the town of Juana Díaz, on the south coast of the island, the company has over 2,000 acres planted with soy, maize, cotton, and sorghum.

Monsanto Caribe has offices and over 325 acres planted in the municipality of Isabela, on the northwest part of the island on the south side of Highway 2. On the other side of the highway there is a University of Puerto Rico (UPR) experimental substation where a transgenic yucca for use in Africa is being developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This yucca is being genetically altered to increase its Vitamin A, iron, zinc, and protein content.

Dimuth Siritunga, professor at the Mayagüez UPR campus (RUM), is in charge of this project. He also directs the Gates Foundation's Biocassava Plus program. This program aims to increase the nutritional properties of manioc in Africa by means of both conventional plant breeding and transgenic biotechnology. The RUM is one of eleven institutions participating in Biocassava Plus, the principal being the Danforth Plant Science Center (DPSC), a non-profit institution located in the U.S. city of St. Louis. This center was founded in 1998 with a grant from the Monsanto Fund. Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, is on the DPSC's board of directors.

"It seems safe enough to call Danforth Monsanto's not-for-profit research wing," says reporter Tom Philpott of the environmental online journal Grist.


Aura Alfaro, "Crean 'superyuca' en Mayagüez," El Nuevo Día, February 28, 2010.

Aura Alfaro, "Germina la innovación," El Nuevo Día, February 7, 2010.

Biocassava Plus, http://biocassavaplus.org/.

Danforth Plant Science Center, http://www.danforthcenter.org/.

Monsanto Puerto Rico, http://www.monsanto.pr/nuestra_empresa/historia/monsanto_puertorico.asp.

Tom Philpott, "USDA Research Chief Concerned About 'Safety of Organic Food'," Grist Magazine, March 2, 2010, http://www.grist.org/article/usda-research-chief-concerned-about-safety-of-organic-food.

For more information:

Etiquetas: , , ,

WSJ rushes to Monsanto's defense

Editorial. Seeds of Antitrust Destruction.

Anonymous. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Mar 29, 2010. pg. A.22

Full Text

(643 words)

When you can't beat 'em, scream monopoly. That's the vintage gambit now playing out in the farm business, with the encouragement of the Department of Justice.

At the first of a series of workshops this month, Attorney General Eric Holder, antitrust chief Christine Varney and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presided over a "forum" for farmers, activists and others to discuss competition in the agriculture industry. The occasion looked more like the Obama Administration's latest dunk tank for business. "Recessions and long periods of reckless deregulation can foster practices that are anti-competitive and even illegal," Mr. Holder warned in his speech.

Held in Ankeny, Iowa, the gathering occurred in the backyard of DuPont's seed company, Pioneer Hi-Bred. DuPont/Pioneer has become an ally of the Justice Department's resurrected antitrust posse. DuPont has filed an antitrust suit against Monsanto over its dominance of a sliver of the soybean market, and the company hopes Mr. Holder's trustbusters will grant it success where the market has not.

The controversy involves a soybean-seed technology created and patented by Monsanto in 1996. Called Roundup Ready, the product became a favorite among farmers because the soybean it produces is resistant to weed killer. At first, DuPont aimed to challenge Monsanto directly, developing a product called Optimum GAT. When that failed as a stand-alone product, DuPont came up with plans to use it as a so-called stacked product -- a seed that included both Monsanto and DuPont technologies.

Monsanto took DuPont to U.S. District Court in St. Louis on grounds that combining these products violated the two companies' licensing contract. In January, Judge Richard Webber agreed, ruling that DuPont didn't have the right to combine, or "stack," its product on Monsanto's blockbuster. DuPont meanwhile called in the monopoly lawyers. It counter-sued on antitrust grounds, with DuPont General Counsel Thomas Sager vowing that "this litigation is just the beginning."

On cue, the Justice Department antitrust posse saddled up. It opened a formal investigation into Monsanto's alleged monopoly behavior. But any "monopoly" depends on whose definition of competition gets used. If the relevant "market" is herbicide-resistant soybeans, then Monsanto has been a colossus since its first unit was sold. (Round-up Ready is literally the only product that's been developed for this purpose.)

In fact, DuPont holds a slight edge in soybean seed sales, and each company represents about one-quarter of the soybean seed market. Competition is strong in the seed industry, where Monsanto lost market share as a result of its decision to license its soybean technology to other seed producers.

But Ms. Varney, the Justice antitrust chief, has her eye on bigger things. She once worked to organize farm workers and she has said that Justice's Iowa workshops were inspired by her concern that the Bush Administration had allowed too many mergers across the farm industry, creating a culture of Big Agriculture that is bad for America. Besides this litigation, the Justice Department recently filed suit in Wisconsin to prevent further "consolidation" in dairy processing. The livestock industry, which is dominated by a handful of major producers and was another hot topic at the Iowa workshops, could be next.

Monsanto and farm conglomerates represent evil to the same demographic that believes we should go back to growing our own food. While the increase in organic produce and "buying local" is gospel to urban foodies and those rich enough to afford high prices, large-scale farming has succeeded in the marketplace because its economies of scale make food more affordable and have helped feed the hungry around the world.

An antitrust assault against Monsanto and the broader farm industry will do nothing to advance the competition that Mr. Holder claims to protect. Federal interventions against market leaders typically target companies most likely to innovate and create products that drive progress. Those who invest in research and development have a right to reap what they sow.

Etiquetas: , ,

domingo, marzo 28, 2010

GM Supporters and Foes Both Converge in Guadalajara



In the first week of March the Mexican city of Guadalajara hosted the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries. The conference was billed as a purely technical event, an objective and neutral affair, for the purpose of evaluating technological options for agriculture in order to face the challenges of hunger and climate change. But indigenous, campesino (peasant), and civil society sectors in Mexico and many other countries denounced it as having been an attempt to promote GM crops.

"The documents which FAO coordinated for the conference did not address fundamental questions about biotechnology, such as the domination of the entire sector by transnational businesses," asserted Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group. "They also ignored the impossible-to-ignore results of the use of agricultural biotechnology: the transgenic contamination of campesino varieties, the increase in the use of toxic agrochemicals on these crops (which worsens climate change), and other impacts on the environment and on consumer health."

"If the FAO had really wanted to have a discussion of options, it would not have organized a biased conference; one without the participation of the key actors, and one rejecting critical points of view. At this point, what the FAO has done is to condone the appropriation of the planet's seeds and food chain by a few transnational GM seed producers, something which will only aggravate hunger and climate chaos.

In response to the FAO conference, dozens of organizations from inside and outside of Mexico organized an alternative parallel conference called "GM Crops Rob Us of Our Future."

"That the FAO decided to meet in Mexico with government and private sector representatives under the banner of the false argument that 'biotechnology can benefit campesinos of poor countries' is an act of aggression, show of disrespect, and we take it as an affront," declared the international organization Vía Campesina, a participant in the parallel event.

"They use the word 'biotechnology,' which is broad and vague, when we all know that what they really mean to do is promote GM crops, which have never benefited and never will benefit campesino families," said Vía Campesina. "It is a major act of aggression and a provocation directed against the Mexican pueblo (people) and campesino and indigenous pueblos throughout the entire world to come to Mexico to promote GM crops. It is in Mexico itself that we have fought so hard to try to stop the contamination of our ancestral corn with transgenic pollen, which threatens the center of origin and the center of the biodiversity of this extremely important crop that provides food for our culture and for all humanity."

"GM crops don't bring benefits: only high costs and destruction which will fall on the shoulders of campesinos and indigenous people and on humanity in general," declared the Chilean Camila Montecinos, of the organization GRAIN. "These businesses seek to impose themselves on us in order to maximize their profits and their control over food. They are not concerned about the criminal damage their crops cause. The complicity of governments, research centers, and international organizations is also criminal, since it facilitates and aggravates these dangers. For these reasons, it is urgent that pueblos organize to defend their food supply and their environment."

In spite of the bleak and adverse outlook which confronts them with regard to the advance of GM, the participants at the meeting placed their bets on an optimistic outcome and on the alternatives which food sovereignty and campesino agro-ecological production offer. "Food sovereignty based on sustainable campesino agriculture will save us from the cycles [caused by] speculation and free trade and will reduce impacts on the climate," affirmed Vía Campesina. "Our wise ancestors and agro-ecological principles are wholesome, while an increasing number of scientific studies show the multitude of risks for human health which GM crops represent."

"To sow our fields with our native maize, and to defend it, is an act of resistance, an act of rebellion against an unfair system. But it is also an act of hope. Hope because we know that food sovereignty from sustainable indigenous and campesino agriculture is where the solutions to the crisis lie, and these seeds of rebellion which we sow are also the seeds of another, better world that we seek."

LINK: http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6706


Camila Montecinos, "Desenmascarando las mentiras de los transgénicos," http://www.biodiversidadla.org/Principal/Contenido/Documentos/Desenmascarando_las_mentiras_de_los_transgenicos.

Silvia Ribeiro, "FAO y transgénicos: Apuesta equivocada," La Jornada, February 27, 2010, http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/02/27/index.php?section=opinion&article=021a1eco.

Via Campesina, "Es una agresión de parte de la FAO reunirse en México para promover transgénicos," March 1, 2010, http://www.biodiversidadla.org/Principal/Contenido/Noticias/Es_una_agresion_

For more information:

Etiquetas: , , , ,

viernes, marzo 26, 2010

Kenya Imports GMO Maize Despite Surplus of Local Grain

Kenya is in many ways ground zero in the fight over GM crops on the African continent. A press release from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition yesterday called out government officials for allowing the import of GMO maize, while the nation's farmers are producing a surplus and struggling with low prices at the farm gate. GM crops have not been approved for release in Kenya.

The Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) is a coalition of farmer organizations, consumer rights groups, faith based groups, and community organizations. According to their release:

"It has come to our attention through our network friends -African Centre for Biosafety, (ACB) based in South Africa, that in January 2010, an international grain handling company in Kenya Louis Dreyfus Commodities (K) Ltd, got an export permit from South Africa to bring into Kenya a consignment of 40,000 MT of GMO maize varieties. This is an issue of public concern and a fresh case of deliberate violation of the Biosafety protocol by the Kenya Government as no approvals have been given for the environmental release of GMOs in Kenya.

When the government opened a window for importation of duty free maize late 2009, it was to address persistent food insecurity Currently, the nation is experiencing a bumper harvest of all cereals. Why did the government extend the window to import duty free maize when farmers in Kenya are struggling with lack of storage facilities and low prices of their recently harvested cereals?"

Industry, public and private donors have been working on GM crops in the country for nearly two decades, despite Kenya's adherence to the Cartagena Protocol. GM crops have never been legal for commercial plantings in Kenya.

Etiquetas: , ,

jueves, marzo 25, 2010

Mostra de Vídeo CMI - Transgênicos e Alimentos


GeneWatch PR: Bioeconomy a science fantasy: new GeneWatch report

A new GeneWatch UK report concludes that billions of pounds of taxpayers' money have been wasted in R&D investments intended to deliver a new biotech economy (1).

Responding to this week's report on science funding by the Science and Technology Committee of MPs (2), GeneWatch's Director Dr Helen Wallace said: "The big problem with the science budget is not its total size but that the wrong people are deciding how to spend it. A cycle of hype is driving research investment decisions, which have become disconnected from reality."

The MPs' Committee is also due to issue a report this week (midday Thursday) on bioengineering (including genetic modification, GM).

The new GeneWatch report questions whether current investments in the biosciences, including genetic modification (GM) of plants, and human genome sequencing, can actually deliver the claimed future benefits to quality of life and the economy. It finds that, after decades of investment, the net value of the bio-economy worldwide has been estimated to be zero or negative.

Only two types of GM crops have been commercialised on any scale - insect-resistance and herbicide-tolerance - and only the US company Monsanto has made significant profits from them. A new generation of nitrogen-fixing and salt-tolerant GM crops were promised nearly 30 years ago: many scientists are sceptical that such products can be delivered and even enthusiasts predict that several decades more investment would be needed before any prospect of delivery.

There is widespread recognition amongst geneticists that most diseases in most people, and many adverse drug reactions, are too complex and too dependent on environmental factors to be predictable by screening people's genes. Yet, significant investments of taxpayers' money continue to be made with a view to integrating scans of people's genomes into electronic medical records. Money wasted includes substantial sums in R&D investments, plus over 12 billion pounds allocated to implementing the UK centralised system of electronic medical records known as the 'Spine', with the aim of implementing a 'genetic revolution' in healthcare. Despite massive publicity, commercial companies have failed to sell more than a few tens of thousands of commercial human gene tests, because they are not useful to predict most diseases in most people (3).

"The Government and the European Union have wasted billions of taxpayers' money on a science fantasy", said Dr Wallace, "From the outset, the vision of a biotech economy failed to acknowledge the complexity of health, biology, society, the environment and agriculture".

The report documents how research investment decisions have been taken by a small circle of unaccountable advisors, including the New Labour donors known as the 'biotech barons'. Alternative 'on-the-ground' approaches to improving health and farming have been side-lined, starved of funding, or even axed altogether, leading to significant opportunity costs due to the failure to implement existing knowledge and best practice in areas such as public health and farmland management.

"The biotech barons and their friends deserve a prize for sleaze that goes way beyond the rest of politics", said Dr Wallace, "It is time to stop unaccountable advisors from pushing pseudo-scientific claims about the future of the biotech economy".

Diversion of potential food crops and land to industrial-scale production of biofuels (agrofuels) has long been proposed as part of the bio-economy: warnings about the effect on food prices and supplies made a decade ago have been ignored, and subsidised biofuel production - much of it using GM maize planted in North and South America - was one contributing factor in the 2008 food crisis. Developing new genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) to break down cellulose in woody plants to make ethanol, has been proposed as a potential future solution for the current problems caused by the diversion of food and land into growing agrofuels. However, this is unlikely to be technically feasible or cost-effective and will create new problems of its own if GMMs escape and survive in the environment.

The GeneWatch report concludes that science does have an important role to play in society and in the economy. However, there is an urgent need to re-assess what has been delivered by the major political and financial investments made in the bio-economy over the past three decades, and to reform the current decision-making systems for R&D investments. Scarce resources must be allocated more effectively.

For more information contact:

Dr Helen Wallace, Office: 01298-24300; Mobile: 07903-311584.

Notes for Editors:

(1) GeneWatch UK report: Bioscience for Life? Who decides what research is done in health and agriculture? March 2010. Available on: www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/Science_for_Life_final.doc . Appendix A: 'The history of UK Biobank, electronic medical records in the NHS, and the proposal for data-sharing without consent' was published online in February 2009. Available on: http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/UK_Biobank_fin_1.pdf

(2) House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Science cuts threaten economic recovery, warn MPs. 23rd March 2010. Available on: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_pn29_100323.cfm

Etiquetas: ,

PUERTO RICO: El Caribe transgénico

Puerto Rico es una importante
plataforma para semillas


CIP Americas Policy Program, 5 de marzo 2010 http://www.ircamericas.org/esp/6695

Desde la década de los ochenta, Puerto Rico ha sido una importante plataforma de la industria de biotecnología para experimentación y propagación de sus semillas transgénicas. Estas actividades de investigación y desarrollo están en vísperas de aumentar a una escala aún mayor, según un artículo publicado en el diario local El Nuevo Día en su edición del 7 de febrero de 2010. Citamos textualmente del reportaje:

"Saúl Rosado, presidente de la Puerto Rico Seed Research Association, confirmó que, para cumplir con la creciente demanda por semillas, las subsidiarias en Puerto Rico de multinacionales de Estados Unidos y Europa están en vías de expandir sus operaciones... Manuel Pérez, gerente del Proyecto de Maíz de Monsanto Caribe, confirmó que la empresa en la Isla también tiene planes de expansión."

En la isla hay actualmente nueve compañías semilleras, todas agrupadas bajo la PR Seed Research Association, que incluyen a Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, Dow Agroscience y Bayer Cropscience. Estas compañías tienen en Puerto Rico más de 5,570 cuerdas sembradas de maíz, soya, sorgo, girasol, algodón y otros cultivos, en los municipios de Lajas, Sabana Grande, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Salinas, Guayama, Isabela, y Aguadilla. La gran mayoría de los cultivos transgénicos del mundo consisten de maíz, soya y algodón.

La estadounidense Monsanto, compañía semillera más grande del mundo, que controla 90% del mercado mundial de semilla transgénica, está en Puerto Rico- bajo el nombre Monsanto Caribe- desde 1983, dice la página web de Monsanto Puerto Rico. En el pueblo de Juana Díaz, en la costa sur de la isla, la compañía tiene sobre dos mil acres donde siembran soya, maíz, algodón y sorgo.

En el municipio de Isabela, en el noroeste de la isla, en el lado sur de la carretera núm. 2, Monsanto Caribe tiene oficinas y sobre 325 acres de siembras. Al otro lado de la carretera está una sub-estación experimental de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), donde se está desarrollando una yuca transgénica para uso en Africa con el financiamiento de la fundación Bill & Melinda Gates. Esta yuca está siendo alterada genéticamente para incrementar su contenido de vitamina A, hierro, zinc y proteína.

Este proyecto está a cargo de Dimuth Sritunga, profesor del Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez de la UPR (RUM), quien también dirige el programa Biocassava Plus de la Fundación Gates, que se propone aumentar las propiedades nutritivas de la mandioca en Africa mediante métodos de fitomejoramiento convencional y biotecnología transgénica. El RUM es una de once instituciones participantes de Biocassava Plus, la principal es el Danforth Plant Science Center, institución sin fines de lucro ubicada en la ciudad estadounidense de St. Louis. Este centro fue fundado en 1998 con dinero de la fundación Monsanto Fund. El jefe de Monsanto, Hugh Grant, está en la junta directiva de Danforth.

Dice el reportero Tom Philpott, de la revista ambiental Grist, que "me parece justo decir que Danforth es el brazo sin fines de lucro de investigación de Monsanto".


Aura Alfaro "Crean 'superyuca' en Mayagüez" El Nuevo Día, 28 de febrero 2010.

Aura Alfaro "Germina la innovación" El Nuevo Día, 7 de febrero 2010.

Biocassava Plus http://biocassavaplus.org/

Danforth Plant Science Center. http://www.danforthcenter.org/

Monsanto Puerto Rico http://www.monsanto.pr/nuestra_empresa/historia/monsanto_puertorico.asp

Tom Philpott "USDA research chief concerned about 'safety of organic food'" Grist Magazine, 2 de marzo 2010. http://www.grist.org/article/usda-research-chief-concerned-about-safety-of-organic-food

Para más información:


Etiquetas: , ,

sábado, marzo 20, 2010

Bulgaria Puts Total Ban on GM Crops


Source: Sofia News Agency

The Bulgarian Parliament has passed amendments to the GMO Act which mean that GM crops will not be allowed to be grown in the country.

After a number of days of debate Bulgaria’s MPs finally passed the strongest possible amendments which although they do not include a total ban on GM crops, make it impossible for farmers to grow them commercially or in trials. Bulgaria has thus become the first country in Europe to introduce such stringent laws for all forms of GM crops.

The governing
GERB party earlier removed the proposed 5 year GM crops moratorium proposal
as they found that it was not necessary, considering the amendments proposed by rightist Blue Coalition MP Lachezar Toshev mean that farmers will never be given permission to plant them.
The long-debated articles 79 and 80 of the amended GMO Act were finally voted on and passed on Thursday: They ban the planting of GM crops within the boundaries of protected areas in the Protected Areas Act and within the protected areas of national ecological zone under the Biodiversity Law.

GM crops will not be allowed to be grown within 30 km of the protected areas, within 10km of bee hives or within 7 km of organic farmland – leading to an overall ban countrywide in practise.

“Environmentalists need not worry, I'm completely satisfied, because the law was made more rigorous, strengthening and protecting our traditional production and biodiversity,” Toshev concluded after the Parliament vote.

Bulgaria has seen a month of protests by environmentalists since the first reading of the ammended GMO Act in Parliament, which led to the government making a last minute decision to support the full and complete strengthening of the law.


Latest Blow to GM Crops - Insects in India resistant to Bt Cotton

Today Science Magazine reported widespread resistance to the Bt toxin in genetically modified cotton in India.

According to the abstract, "Monsanto has revealed that a common insect pest has developed resistance to its flagship genetically modified (GM) product in India. The agricultural biotechnology leader says it "detected unusual survival" of pink bollworms that fed on cotton containing the Cry1Ac gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which codes for a protein that's toxic to many insect pests. In a statement to Science, Monsanto claims that the finding from western India "is the first case of field-relevant resistance to Cry1Ac products, anywhere in the world."

Other independent researchers have disputed the claim that this is the first instance, with earlier reports cropping up in South Africa and the United States.

Regardless, the admission is a major blow for Monsanto and the GM industry. The Bt cotton varieties under fire are being sold as a technology that can help fight poverty and cut pesticide use. Neither claim so far has been substantiated.

The full article is available at www.sciencemag.org (Requires subscription)

Etiquetas: , , ,

viernes, marzo 19, 2010

COLOMBIA: Sanción a Monsanto por semillas OGM de algodón


Miércoles 17 de marzo de 2010

El Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA) impuso una sanción por 515 millones de pesos a la Compañía Agrícola Colombiana (Coacol), representante de la multinacional Monsanto.

La decisión la tomó la entidad sanitaria de prevención y control, teniendo en cuenta que la semilla de algodón genéticamente modificada (transgénica) lo ocasionó pérdidas a los cultivadores durante la temporada de cultivo 2008/2009. Inicialmente, la Confederación Colombiana del Algodón (Conalgodón) presentó la reclamación ante el ICA por información errónea, engañosa e insuficiente con la que la empresa publicitó la semilla de algodón, conocida técnicamente como DP 164 B2RF.

Según Luz Amparo Fonseca, presidente del gremio algodonero, la publicidad hablaba de una resistencia de hasta el 97 por ciento de resistencia del insumo al ataque de la plaga Spodóptera, por lo cual los agricultores casi que ni la tuvieron en cuenta para hacer las labores de prevención y control de la plaga, pues el insumo la daba por sí solo. "Sin embargo, las pérdidas por esa plaga fueron inmensas, perjudicando a 2.400 agricultores que sembraron 7.000 hectáreas", anotó la dirigente gremial.

En razón a esas pérdidas, se no se descarta que los agricultores, bien sea de forma individual o grupal (a través de sus cooperativas) puedan demandar a Monsanto por los daños económicos ocasionados. "Vale la pena aclarar que esto no es una guerra ni una batalla entre el gremio y la multinacional, más bien es un inconveniente surgido, nada más", concluyó Luz Amparo Fonseca, quien destacó que junto con la compañía están trabajando en la reestructuración de la cadena algodóntextil, buscando la competitividad del sector algodonero colombiano. Para este año, en el mercado de las semillas de algodón genéticamente modificadas (transgénicas) están las ofertas de las multinacionales Bayer y Monsanto.

En cuanto a la demanda, esta última tendrá cinco días hábiles para presentar su recurso de apelación, mientras que de hacerse efectiva la sanción económica, los recursos irán a un fondo para que el ICA siga con su misión de la sanidad agropecuaria del país. Conflicto algodonero de Monsanto Inicialmente, el conflicto pareció dirimirse cuando en mayo del 2009 la multinacional ofreció entregar 1.280 millones de pesos para resarcir a los cultivadores afectados en los departamentos de Córdoba y Sucre.

Los recursos se entregarían con la condición de que fueran utilizados por Conalgodón, pero a través de una fiducia (Fidubogotá) e irían a los bolsillos de los agricultores afectados; 130 millones de pesos más se entregarían directamente al gremio para fortalecer su departamento técnico. Sin embargo, no se llegó a algún acuerdo entre las partes y al cierre contable de junio del 2009, ante la imposibilidad de llegar a un acuerdo, la compañía destinó el recurso a otras actividades, por lo que Conalgodón inició la reclamación ante el ICA.

Previo a este escándalo, Monsanto ya había tenido un conflicto con los cultivadores de algodón transgénico de Tolima y Huila, en marzo del 2009, quiEnes denunciaron la venta de semillas de apariencia 'vieja' y cuyos índices de germinación no fueron aceptables (menor al 80 por ciento). Para los dos casos, la multinacional explicó que la quiebra de los agricultores obedeció al mal uso del insumo y al inclemente invierno que azotó las zonas algodoneras. En un comunicado entregado a EL TIEMPO, la empresa dijo que respeta de las leyes y las normas que rigen en cada uno de los países en los que opera.

"Consideramos que nuestras acciones se ajustan a lo que ordena la regulación colombiana. En este contexto la compañía analizará la sanción y definirá sus mecanismos de defensa legal. "Mientras estos hechos se aclaran y continua el proceso legal, es preciso resaltar que continuaremos comprometidos con la productividad del campo colombiano y, en especial con el sector algodonero, trabajando fuertemente de la mano del gremio y de los agricultores para en disponer cada vez más de mejores materiales y tecnologías de punta que contribuyan al aumento de la competitividad y la calidad del algodón colombiano", concluye el comunicado.

Juan Carlos Domínguez / Redacción de Economía y Negocios

Semillas de Identidad
Campaña por la Defensa de la Biodiversidad y la Soberanía Alimentaria
biodiversidad@swissaid.org.co / mauricio.garcia2007@yahoo.es
blog: http://semillasdeidentidad.blogspot.com

Etiquetas: , ,

BIO Proposes Second Wave of Advanced Biofuel Commercialization Policy to Stimulate Job Creation

Obama Administration’s Commitment to Building Advanced Biorefineries Can Create Green Jobs and Economic Growth with Additional Action

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Additional Congressional action is needed to follow through on the Obama administration’s recently announced initiative to rapidly build an integrated value chain for the bioeconomy, create jobs and kick start economic growth. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today released proposed policy options that provide needed incentives to support U.S. job growth incentivizing commercial scale biorefinery projects for production of advanced biofuels, biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, stated, “The economic recession created an extra hurdle for companies trying to build biorefineries for advanced biofuels and value-added biobased products. Industrial biotechnology solutions for advanced biofuels are ready, and companies have achieved significant successes in achieving research and development goals. Given the current economic climate, what is needed now is significant capital investment.

“The Obama administration correctly recognizes that large-scale production of advanced biofuels can be a significant driver of green job creation, energy security and greenhouse gas reductions. We applaud the policy initiatives announced yesterday, which call for federal coordination of programs to help integrate the complete biofuel value chain. This is a good first step in helping to stimulate the private investment needed to build new biorefineries. However, more needs to be done to de-risk investment in new technologies so that they can scale up to meet national goals. Congress can take action to ensure that these programs are adequately funded and targeted so that the effort will stimulate additional private capital investment.”

BIO’s proposals for new Congressional policy options include:

  • Revise the risk assessment process for advanced biofuels projects in the current Department of Energy loan guarantee program;
  • Double funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to deploy cellulosic feedstocks; include eligibility for value-added biobased materials, products and chemicals;
  • Fund the reverse auction for cellulosic biofuels already incorporated in law;
  • Fund development and deployment programs for biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals.

A recent report commissioned by BIO, U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production, projects that development of advanced biorefineries could create as many as 29,000 jobs over the next few years. For a copy of the report, U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production, please visit http://bio.org/ind/EconomicImpactAdvancedBiofuels.pdf.

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. The Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at http://biofuelsandclimate.wordpress.com/.


martes, marzo 16, 2010

Relying on GM Crops to Battle Climate Change 'Suicidal,' Indian Activist Charges

by Laurie Goering


LONDON - Faced with growing demand for food and increasingly unpredictable weather, many developing nations are debating whether to relax restrictions on the use of genetically modified crops.

[Students from the department of environment studies pose with their painted faces during a protest against "bacillus thuringniensis" Bt brinjal in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh February 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma)]Students from the department of environment studies pose with their painted faces during a protest against "bacillus thuringniensis" Bt brinjal in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh February 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma)
Seed developers promise that a coming generation of genetically modified (GM) food crops will have climate-resilient features, from drought resistance to saltwater tolerance.

But widespread adoption of GM varieties by small farmers would be "suicidal in terms of climate change," said Vandana Shiva, an Indian social activist, environmentalist and proponent of small-scale farming.

"The (GM) system is more about companies making money from farmers than food security," she told AlertNet in an interview in London.

Adopting GM crops puts small farmers at greater financial risk because they often have to borrow money to buy more expensive GM seeds. If their crops fail, particularly repeatedly, they can find themselves unable to repay the loans, she said.

Worldwide, crop failures are increasingly harder to predict because the climate is becoming more erratic.

In recent years there has been an unprecedented spate of suicides by heavily indebted cotton farmers in Central India, Shiva said. More than three quarters of the suicides, her research shows, have been committed by farmers using GM cotton seed and struggling to repay loans.

GM suppliers sell their seeds on the condition that farmers buy fresh seed each year - something many growers can't afford if their crop fails. A decade ago, 80 percent of Indian farmers saved part of their harvest as seed to plant the following season's crops, Shiva said.

Etiquetas: ,

Alimentos transgénicos no son solución para abatir el hambre

Miguel Altieri, de la Universidad de Berkeley, durante la rueda de prensa celebrada en el Hotel Gardet. A. CAMACHO

GUADALAJARA, JALISCO.- Los transgénicos no resolverán el hambre en los países del tercer mundo ni los problemas del cambio climático, ya que hasta la fecha no hay una sola hectárea, de las 180 millones que existen de cultivos genéticamente modificados, que se destine para los hambrientos del mundo, afirmaron distintos expertos internacionales que están de visita en Guadalajara, como parte de las actividades alternativas a la reunión de la Organización de Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO).

“El potencial de estos cultivos es cero. Porque la soya transgénica está dedicada fundamentalmente a la alimentación animal y a la producción de biocombustibles. Lo mismo con el maíz transgénico, 70% es para ganado y el resto para generar etanol. Y el algodón y la canola no alimentan a nadie”, aseguró Miguel Altieri, de la Universidad de Berkeley, California, durante el foro “¿Transgénicos? no, gracias”, que abrió las actividades.

Tan sólo en Sudáfrica, la introducción de maíz genéticamente modificado de la trasnacional Monsanto, dejó 130 mil hectáreas de este grano sin mazorcas, “entre otros conflictos que se han presentado a raíz de la autorización de este tipo de siembras”, resaltó Mark Wells, de la Alianza Sudafricana para la Moratoria a la Ingeniería Genética (Safeage).

Lo más importante –dijo Altieri– es que existen opciones como la agroecología, que promueve el diálogo de saberes, recogiendo el conocimiento campesino, que actualmente genera más de 70% de los alimentos básicos del mundo.

“Son sistemas que son resistentes al cambio climático. Está comprobado que después de algunos huracanes, los cultivos que sobreviven son los agroecológicos. Y si hoy todos los cultivos fueran transgénicos, la producción bajaría, porque no serían capaces de sobrevivir”.

El experto en agroecología señaló que la única opción para enfrentar el cambio climático es la diversidad genética.

“Los transgénicos van de la mano de los biocombustibles. El interés no son los alimentos, sino la producción de la biomasa para plásticos, combustibles, fármacos... todo respaldado con la biotecnología. Pero los más peligrosos son los biocombustibles, porque están desplazando tierras de cultivo y hay una coalición de multinacionales, tanto productoras de biotecnología, como empresas de petróleo, carros, que se unen con fundaciones como la Gates, que están penetrando en las agendas de investigación de los gobiernos y de las universidades públicas”.

Ymelda Montoro, de la Red de Acción de Agricultura Alternativa en Perú, compartió que en su país están trabajando para declarar zonas libres de organismos genéticamente modificados, que son polígonos aislados, por lo menos a 10 kilómetros de hectáreas donde hay cultivos transgénicos.

Después de esta reunión de la FAO, se prevé más impulso para transgénicos de segunda generación, como los biocombustibles; los países más interesados son los que han entrado en este mercado, como Brasil, Argentina, Colombia o Estados Unidos.

“Van a enfocarse a este tema, el problema es que los biocombustibles empeoran el problema del hambre, porque desplazan tierras agrícolas y son tierras más vulnerables al cambio climático. Es el camino equivocado."