UK GOVERNMENT CRITIC OF PRAJATEERPU JOINS SYNGENTA
Anyone who read UK Government Minister Clare Short's recent Guardian
piece on the Jo'burg summit, in which she presented environmental concerns
as being at complete loggerheads with development concerns, might have
wondered where exactly she gets her advice from. The answer is from people
like Andrew Bennet.
Andrew Bennett, who was one of the leading critics of Prajateerpu within
DFID, has joined the agri-chemical giant Syngenta - the world's second
largest promoter of mechanised, high-input, anti-poor agriculture.
Until recently, he was, Director, Rural Livelihoods and Environment, for the British Department for International Development in London and principal advisor to government ministers on policy and programs for the improvement of rural livelihoods, better natural resources management, environmental protection, sustainable development and research in international development.
The revolving door between DFID and Syngenta, along with the British environment Minister Eliot Morley's recent admission that UK government policy was being heavily influenced by trans-national GM corporations such as Syngenta, raises questions as to the extent to which DFID policy on GM, and their critique of Prajateerpu, is being dictated by commerical interests, rather than the priorities of the poor.
Syngenta provided a witness, Dr Partha Dasgupta, and observers at last year's Prajateerpu hearings. The marginal farmers were particularly critical of Dr Dasgupta's claims for GM.
'In an airless conference room, a woman called Anjamma was asked, through an interpreter: "If this project goes ahead, what does she think she will do?" "There will be nothing for us to do," Anjamma replied, "other than to drink pesticide and die."
In the West, leaving the land might sound like liberation, but to Anjamma it spells only destitution.
...Anjamma isn't speaking out of ignorance. She was one of 12 farmers who were chosen to be part of a citizens' jury set up by a couple of non-governmental organisations to scrutinise the development plans. That meant that she has sat through days of evidence from GM-seed company executives, from politicians, from academics, from aid donors. That was why her certainty was all the more impressive.'
excerpt from 'Citizens jury holds UK Government to account', Natasha
Walter, The Independent, 21 March 2002 http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/210302c.htm
More information on Anjamma and the citizens' jury can be found on
http://www.iied.org or http://www.ids.ac.uk
Powerhouse or poorhouse? New Scientist article
For an article on another citizens' jury involving Indian farmers in the state of Karnataka:
ngin bulletin archive