6 September 2002
GM FOOD AND ORISSA: THE REAL STORY
The Prakash-Monsanto-CEI campaign of misinformation continues.
from Devinder Sharma <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am shocked to see the report below. More shocking is the shoulder headline: "Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of Orissa". It looks from the report that some groups in India had blocked food aid to Orissa super cyclone victims, which left 10,000 people dead.This is completely wrong, and obviously fabricated and mischievous. But then, when was it that the GM 'loudspeakers' had told the truth?
Since it involves India, let me put the facts straight. The report below states: "Nor is this the first time activist groups opposed food aid shipments. In June 2000, Greenpeace and Shiva's Research Foundation attempted to block US food aid to victims of a cyclone in the Indian state of Orissa, which left over 10,000 dead. "It is time for groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to stop playing public relations games with people's lives and publicly condemn these statements and activities," said Patrick Moore of Greenspirit."
In reality, it was not because of blocking the food aid that 10,000 people had died. It was because of the super cyclone that 10,000 people had died. It should also be clear that there was no dearth of surplus food in India at the time the cyclone struck. We had nearly 40 million tonnes of food surplus stocked within the country at that time. It was the comfortable food stocking within the country that had helped rescue operations to meet the food requirement of the needy after the cyclone.
At another place in the report, it is stated: "The AgBioWorld Foundation and numerous other organizations, including the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum, AfricaBio, the Center for Global Food Issues, GreenSpirit, and International Consumers for Civil Society, have challenged activist organizations to formally endorse food aid shipments and to not repeat the mistakes of 'Orissa.'"
Can these biotech PR agencies please tell us the mistake that was committed in Orissa? If meeting the food shortage from the stocks that are held within the country (and mercifully which are also non-GM) is a mistake, then I have nothing more to say. In fact, countries must learn from the way India handled the relief and rehabilitation operations after the super-cyclone had done the devastation. We were safe because we were not depending upon multinational companies for the basic human requirement -- food. We grow our own non-GM food and we are a net exporting country. At present, India has a surplus of 65 million tonnes, which can feed much of the hungry population of the world. But the tragedy is that none of the scientific bodies, and that includes the FAO/WFP/USAID, the Nobel laureates and thousands of other scientists who ride the GM bandwagon, ever appeal for distributing this huge surplus among the world's poor and hungry. Their concern for the hungry begins and ends with GM crops.
Let me make it clear: these scientists are not committed to address the problem of hunger but their commitment lies in meeting the hunger of the private companies for more profits and that too over the empty stomachs of 800 million hungry who go to bed hungry every night.
Sadly, the biotechnology industry in league with the WTO is now
forcing India to forgo self-reliance in food so assiduously built over
the past few decades. In addition, we in India, like the developing world
in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, are being forced to follow the
American model of farming. And is that the right answer for sustainable
farming and development? I have tried to answer that in my essay "Sustainable
farming: Faulty Lesson from America". The essay is available at:
SCIENTISTS APPLAUD LIMITED ACTIVIST SUPPORT FOR GM FOOD AID
'Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of Orissa,' They Challenge
Auburn, AL September 5, 2002 - A group of scientists and agriculture experts led by the AgBioWorld Foundation are applauding recent activist statements supporting genetically-modified food aid from the United States, which has been refused by some African leaders despite the risk of millions dying from starvation. The group also challenged these and other activists to act responsibly and stop spreading misinformation about foods grown using biotechnology.
Greenpeace's Annette Cotter told the Wall Street Journal, "When it comes to famine, telling anybody not to eat GM food in this situation is a position we absolutely can't take." Juan Lopez of Friends of the Earth said, "We're not saying no to GM foods in the middle of the famine." Unfortunately, these messages conflict with other statements by the same organizations and are not shared by their various allies. Even though the rejection of food aid has been widely condemned, many activist groups, including Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Vandana Shiva's Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy, the Institute of Science in Society, and the Third World Network, continue to oppose the shipments.
"It is refreshing to hear that some environmentalists are no longer willing to sacrifice the lives of desperate people in order to further their own agendas," said Dr. C.S. Prakash, Tuskegee University plant genetics professor and president of the AgBioWorld Foundation. "But it is tragic that many others are still unconcerned by the consequences of their actions."
"The world is standing by as southern Africa may experience more deaths every day than all those lost on September 11," said Professor James Ochanda, chairman of the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum, based in Nairobi, Kenya. "Providing cover to those who use famine for political means and scaring starving millions into believing that the same food eaten by well-fed and wealthier nations is unsafe is having dire and inexcusable consequences."
Nor is this the first time activist groups opposed food aid shipments. In June 2000, Greenpeace and Shiva's Research Foundation attempted to block US food aid to victims of a cyclone in the Indian state of Orissa, which left over 10,000 dead. "It is time for groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to stop playing public relations games with people's lives and publicly condemn these statements and activities," said Patrick Moore of Greenspirit. Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who now opposes the organization's tactics, added, "They should urge their members and allies to stop compounding the impact of this and other crises by politicizing life-saving food aid."
The AgBioWorld Foundation and numerous other organizations, including
the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum, AfricaBio, the Center for
Global Food Issues, GreenSpirit, and International Consumers for Civil
Society, have challenged activist organizations to formally endorse
food aid shipments and to not repeat the mistakes of 'Orissa.' A coalition
of African scientists also urged southern African countries to accept donations
of genetically modified food aid during the ongoing World Summit on Sustainable
Development in Johannesburg.
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