ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
6 September 2002


... Blair's chief scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology into Africa as a 'massive human experiment'. In a scathing attack on President Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries, where people are already facing starvation in the coming months. The Observer, UK, Sep 1, 2002,6903,784262,00.html
1. small farmers from around the world fiercely opposed to GM
2. Uganda "totally against" GM seeds
3. Activists say U.S. forces genetic foods on Africans
4. Who benefits from the World Food Programme - US corporations or the poor?


1. Small farmers from around the world fiercely opposed to GM
"Away With Genetically Modified Organisms," They Say
Mopheme/The Survivor, September 5, 2002
By Thabo Thakalekoala

History was made in Room 2 of the Buffalo Hall at Nasrec Expo Centre last week Thursday, when for the first time in the history of a world summit, small farmers from around the world made their voices heard and revealed their frustrations, problems and expectations to the outside world.

The Small Farmers Convergence which had been meeting at the Shaft 17 Education and Training Centre in Johannesburg under the auspices of Participatory Ecological Land Use and Management (PELUM) was invited to a commission on agriculture by the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative (SARD), a multi-stakeholder umbrella framework designed to support the transition to people-centred sustainable agriculture and rural development.

The commission on agriculture was part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg.

The theme for the Small Farmers Convergence was, "Increasing Visibility of Small Farmers in Sustainable Development."

The highly emotional meeting fiercely opposed dissemination and commercialization of genetically modified seeds, crops, plants and livestock. Small farmers pointed out that genetically modified organisms do not meet precautionary standards, as they have not been independently proven safe for humans and the environment.

They indicated that genetically modified organisms can contaminate both related and unrelated species, adding that since time immemorial small farmers have practiced a tradition of preserving, adapting and exchanging seeds to promote biodiversity and food security.

Small farmers from Africa and across the world vehemently opposed patenting of genetic seeds saying it is a direct threat to and violation of the rights of farmers to preserve, use and exchange their agricultural resources, which will eventually lead to the loss of indigenous farming methods.

The pointed out that poverty and starvation in some parts of Africa is being used to justify dumping of genetically modified food and as a channel to introduce genetically modified seeds in Africa.

Small farmers strongly criticized multi-national companies for claiming that genetically modified seeds will bring food security to the areas affected.

The farmers called on their governments to ban or place a moratorium on genetically modified seeds, adding that they also increase costs to farmers who must buy them anew each year.

They called on governments to introduce labeling of genetically modified foods.

The small farmers urged for a policy support for research and extension on sustainable agriculture aimed at the small farmers and family farmers, adding that investment in research of modern and latest agricultural methods available to farmers that promote food sovereignty and markets is needed.

They also opposed privatization of water, which they consider as a valuable commodity in agriculture, and called for full access of farmers to land and water.

Small farmers unanimously opposed liberalization of markets saying that it will have negative results when they are placed in unequal competition with industries, when the United States and Europe subsidies have a negative impact on farmers from developing countries.

One small farmer from Zimbabwe indicated that it was high time that small farmers formed local, regional and continental and even global alliances that will fight for their rights and make their voices heard.

He called upon other small farmers not to lose their traditional methods of farming but rather improve them so that they can be exchanged between African small farmers once the alliances are formed.

The small farmers' concerns, aspirations and expectation in the next ten years will be discussed by the heads of state and government attending the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development.

Lesotho was represented at the World Summit by about 35 small farmers from different areas of the country.


2. Uganda "totally against" GM seeds - presidential adviser on agriculture

BBC Monitoring Africa - Political
Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring September 5, 2002, Thursday
Radio Uganda, Kampala, in English 0400 gmt 5 Sep 02

Text of report by Radio Uganda on 5 September

The interim president of Ugandan Agricultural Council also presidential adviser on agriculture, Dr John Joseph Otim, says government is totally against genetically-modified organism seeds.

Briefing journalists in his office yesterday on the arrangements of the regional programme for policy and lawmakers' forum, scheduled to take place late this month, Otim said that unless Uganda wants to aggravate poverty and later come to extinct, then it can opt for GM seeds [sentence as heard]. He explained that the problem of GM or terminator seeds is that you plant only once in one season and you go back to the company that sold them new to buy. Besides, he said, scientific tests have proven there is a risk in eating GM food on top of losing export markets.


3. Activists say U.S. forces genetic foods on Africans

United Press International September 5, 2002, Thursday

Environmental activists Wednesday accused the United States of pressuring African nations with large numbers of starving people to accept donations of foods grown from genetically  modified seed,regardless of any potential harmful effects those foods might have. Friends of the Earth officials said officials appointed by President Bush are more interested in promoting the financial interests of wealthy biotech companies in the United States that want to expand their overseas markets. "Hunger in countries such as Zambia is being used to play devious politics," said Nnimmo Bassey, head of Friends of the Earth chapters in Nigeria. "Africans should choose what they eat, not have someone else decide for them."

 The activist group said in Washington food aid programs overseen by the U.S. government are using only genetically modified foods in putting together donations, placing the recipient countries in the position of either accepting the foods or receiving nothing at all. Activists called the "take it or leave it" position of the United States to be "deeply troubling."

 "There is plenty of non-(genetically) engineered corn available for food aid if the Bush administration cares enough to provide it," said Larry Bohlen, a U.S.-based director with the activist group. This is not the first time Friends of the Earth has complained on the issue.

Earlier this year, the group issued an attack saying that Bolivia officials also were being pressured to accept genetically modified foods as part of humanitarian aid packages. Their attack related to Africa comes one week after Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman issued a defense of genetically modified foods, saying they do not pose any threat to human health. Her comments came days after the United Nations refused to implement any policy concerning use of genetic foods in humanitarian donations. The U.N. said that each country should decide for itself whether to accept such foods. The use of genetically altered foods has split the United States from other countries. U.S. officials and researchers believe genetics can actually help improve food quality by developing crops containing the qualities most desired in vegetables. Other officials, including those in many European nations, believe not enough is known about the potential health hazards, including allergic reactions, that can arise from genetically altered foods.


4. Who benefits from the World Food Programme - US corporations or the poor?

by Robert Vint
Genetic Food Alert  6/9//02

World food production substantially exceeds the needs of the world's population - so much so that we can feed much of it to farm animals (a highly inefficient method of turning one form of protein into another) and still have so much surplus that many nations in both North and South have to dump or burn vast quantities. Hunger is not caused by underproduction but by unjust distribution of food, land and income. GM food and crops will do nothing to solve this problem - and could well exacerbate it.

If the World Food Programme were serious about ending hunger then much of its $1 billion expenditure per year would go to help the world's poorest farmers and landless peasants to obtain their own land and grow their own food.  In fact its activities perpetuate hunger and dependence.  Food Aid ships travel half way around the world to dump unwanted or unsellable crops on nations where inequality has caused hunger. The WFP money for the aid goes to the grain corporations that have unsellable GM grain to dispose of, whilst the flood of underpriced grain into the markets of recipient nations makes it impossible for local smallholders to sell their own produce at an adequate price. The poorest farmers go bankrupt and stop growing food.

Thus the wealthiest US corporations get a $1 billion subsidy mainly from US taxpayers whilst the agricultural economy of the recipient nation is destroyed, inequality is increased and dependency on food aid becomes permanent.

A quick look at the World Food Programme's sponsors reveals why it has so fanatically tried to forcefeed the population of southern Africa with unsellable GM corn. The US Government is the main sponsor of the World Food Programme (and the organisation always has an American Director). Nearly all of the corporate funding comes the same US corporations that profit the most from its activities, corporations that are well-known for their strong advocacy of GM crops and that are greatly troubled by their inability to sell them.......

The World Food Programme's Corporate Sponsors - from the WFP website:
* Archer Daniels Midland (U.S): "will provide US$3 million over three years for WFP humanitarian projects. In the first year, US$1 million was provided for Angola Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (vegetable oil and related transportation costs) "
* Alcon/Cargill Corporation (U.S.): "US$50,000 for school feeding projects in Santa Cruz Yojoa and Siquatepeque, Honduras
* General Mills (U.S.): US$50,000 for Mozambique to assist during the flooding "
* Isuzu Motors Limited (Japan): "in-kind contribution of a vehicle for WFP emergency operations in East Timor, Indonesia "
* Novartis Farma (Italy): "US$13,759 for Ethiopia to help the drought affected. Employees donated portions of their work day, which was matched by management "
* Sasoil Petroleum (Mozambique): "US$5,000 for Mozambique airlift"
* Arco Petroleum (Mozambique): "US$5,000 for Mozambique airlift"

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