ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

29 August 2002


A World Bank initiative to review the use of GM foods and farming announced at the Earth Summit hardly inspires confidence. The World Bank has a record of working in tandem with the IMF to force open the world's local economies to multinational corporations, including the GM companies, with disastrous consequences for the poor and for small farmers. Also notable is the impact of the appointment of two former World Bank officials, Mark Malloch Brown and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, to the UN World Development Programme (UNDP) which took its focus from issues such as poor farmers‚ rights and environmental sustainability to promoting the rapid adoption of GM crops by developing countries.

1.International review of farming announced
2.Earth Summit Charities outraged over 'junk food' pacts



International review of farming announced
Press  Release
Immediate release: Thursday 29th August

Friends of the Earth called for a moratorium on the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops following today's announcement at the Earth Summit of a World Bank-funded initiative to review the use of GM foods and farming.

The Process, announced by the World Bank at a press conference in Johannesburg, is chaired by Robert Watson, former chair of the Inter-government Panel on Climate Change and Chief Scientific Advisor to the World Bank, and aims to include views from all sides on the impacts of agricultural science.  It is scheduled to meet in Dublin in November.

The Process will be responsible for looking at the impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as well as other agricultural science over the next three years.

Friends of the Earth cautiously welcomed the review, but sounded a note of caution over the independence of the review, given the involvement of the World Bank.  The issue of GM food and farming is different to climate change, and it is questionable whether a top-down review of this controversial science is appropriate.  The group warned that the review could play into the hands of the US and biotech industry rather than ordinary people, who should be making the decisions about how they farm and what food they eat. The first meeting will be crucial in ensuring that any process includes all stakeholders and covers all relevant issues.

Adrian Bebb, speaking for Friends of the Earth, said:  "By the time this review is finished the choice of many farmers and consumers around the world will already be removed as GM crops continue to contaminate our environment, conventional crops and food.
A moratorium should be immediately implemented."


Adrian Bebb 0113 389 9952  (m) 07712 843211


2. Earth Summit Charities outraged over 'junk food' pacts

By Charles Clover in Johannesburg

BODY: UNITED Nations plans to involve multinational companies including  McDonald's and Monsanto in projects to save the world's poorest countries  from environmental degradation provoked a bitter row at the Earth Summit  yesterday.

Charities rounded on the initiative, which has the support of Britain and  America, saying they were "outraged" by a proposed partnership between the  fast-food chain and Unicef, the UN children's fund.

The plan is intended by the summit's UN organisers to be complementary to  new multilateral agreements on sanitation, health, fish stocks and energy  which America and its allies are reluctant to sign. Britain and America are supporting setting up international partnerships between business, rich  governments and poor countries.

The partnerships also represent a fallback position for the summit in case the political stages collapse - like at last year's summit on racism in Durban - so that at least it can be said to have achieved something.

There is a formal process for registering a partnership and so far 192 have been registered at the summit.

But some partnerships are more controversial than others. The Government's "naive adulation of big business" was criticised by Sir Jonathon Porritt, its chief green adviser, at the weekend.

John Hilary of Save the Children yesterday criticised the UN's prized model partnership on vaccination of children. He said: "There are potential conflicts of interest which are not being addressed. "Companies have a tendency to push newer forms of vaccine and reducing the supply of ones for crucial diseases, such as polio, TB and measles. The priority gets skewed in favour of the big companies concerned."

Mr Hilary said charities were "outraged" by Unicef's partnership with  McDonald's. The UN body has decided to hold a McDonald's World Day for  Children later this year.

He added: "Given the record this company has on nutrition - in selling junk food - we think it is completely irresponsible."

Green groups say a partnership for feeding the poor proposed by Croplife  International, a global federation representing the plant science industry, could be a showcase for such biotechnology companies such as Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta.

Britain has already been working on several relatively uncontroversial  schemes, including one to help South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria provide  clean water to shanty towns and remote, poor areas.

The partnership includes four Government departments, two water charities, a major engineering company, the union Unison, and some of the big British water companies.

Officials say the Government and the companies would provide funds for  developing expertise at local authority level, as well as long-term  financial planning.

Companies theoretically stand to benefit from contacts at the end of this  phase - though South Africa is insistent that contracts are not assured.

This kind of partnership has the full support of charities such as Tear  Fund and Water Aid. Partnerships are being encouraged on all the summit's  areas for action identified by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, which are water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

Lord Holme, the Liberal Democrat vice-chairman of the Business Council for Sustainable Development, conceded that there was "mistrust" between  campaigning charities and companies.

"With all candour, that goes both ways," he said. "There are some that  think that even if we put on white sheets and green halos we would still be the enemy. We need confidence building measures."

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