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Feeding or fooling the world?

Can GM really feed the hungry?


Feeding or fooling the world?

"As we stand on the edge of a new millennium, we dream of a tomorrow without hunger… Worrying about starving future generations won’t feed them. Food biotechnology will."
Monsanto European advertising campaign, 1998

"If anyone tells you that GM is going to feed the world, tell them that it is not…To feed the world takes political and financial will"
Steve Smith, SCIMAC and Novartis (now SYNGENTA), Tittleshall Village Hall public meeting on proposed local GM farm scale trial, 29th March 2000

"We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millenia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves."
Delegates from 20 African Countries to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN on Plant Genetic Resources, 1998

"I'm against the theory of the multinational corporations who say if you are against hunger you must be for GMO. That's wrong, there is plenty of natural, normal good food in the world to nourish the double of humanity. There is absolutely no justification to produce genetically modified food except the profit motive and the domination of the multinational corporations."
U.N. human rights envoy and special investigator on the right to food, Jean Ziegler : U.N. food envoy questions safety of gene crops (Reuters, 15 Oct 2002)

"Seeking a technological food fix for world hunger may be the most commercially malevolent  wild goose chase of the new century."
Dr Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet

"I don't think any of us would disagree that, if an alternative exists to a GE solution, it's to be preferred"
Mr Hodson QC, acting on behalf of the Life Sciences Network at the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, 8th  Feb 2001

"The poor and hungry need low-cost, readily available technologies and practices to increase food production."
Professor Jules Pretty, Director of the Centre for Environment and Society, University of Essex

"Low-tech 'sustainable agriculture,' shunning chemicals in favour of natural pest control and fertiliser, is pushing up crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 70 per cent or more... The findings will make sobering reading for people convinced that only genetically modified crops can feed the planet's hungry in the 21st century... A new science-based revolution is gaining strength built on real research into what works best on the small farms where a billion or more of theworld's hungry live and work... It is time for the major agricultural research centres and their funding agencies to join the revolution."
New Scientist editorial, February 3 2001

"Organic agricultural production based upon cheap, locally available materials and technologies provides an important alternative in the search for an environmentally sound and equitable solution to the problem of food security."
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN

"Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security."
Christian Aid report - Biotechnology and GMOs

"Concerning the future, for the world as a whole there is enough, or more than enough, food production potential to meet the growth of effective demand."
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN

"History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day... Today, patenting of life forms and the genetic engineering which it stimulates, is being justified on the grounds that it will benefit society... But in fact, by monopolising the 'raw' biological materials, the development of other options is deliberately blocked. Farmers therefore, become totally dependent on the corporations for seeds".
Prof. Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement, Kenya

"We already know today that most of the problems that are to be addressed via Golden Rice and other GMOs can be resolved in matter of days, with the right political will."
Hans Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya; winner of the World Food Prize 1995

"As compared with the challenge of controlling protein-energy malnutrition, elimination of VAD [Vitamin A Deficiency] can be achieved rapidly. The cost-effectiveness ratio is also highly favourable. It is therefore a test case of political will, and managerial capacity to implement known technologies and known solutions."
World Health Organisation, 2000

"Some Green Revolution crops are poor in vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamins C and A. But often, under-utilised crops are rich in these nutrients. One study found four African home-garden crops, leafy vegetables with twice the micronutrients of spinach."
Stefano Padulosi, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome

"It is argued that the Indian peasants in Chiapas, Mexico are backward, they produce only two tons of maize per hectare as against six on modern Mexican plantations. But this is only part of the picture. The modern plantation produces six tons per hectare and that’s it. But the Indian grows a mixed crop. Among his corn stalks, that also serve as support for climbing beans, he grows squash and pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and all sorts of vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs. From the same hectare he also feeds his cattle and chickens. He easily produces more than 15 tons of food per hectare and all without commercial fertilisers or pesticides and no assistance from banks or governments or transnational corporations."
José A. Lutzenberger, former Minister of the Environment for Brazil

"Bangladeshi people do not need GM food. GM food means the destruction of farmers and letting the companies take over. We need to preserve a biodiversity-based food production without the application of poisonous chemicals. Bangladeshi farmers are rejecting the idea that GM food can meet the needs of hungry people. This is nonsense. GM can feed the GREED of the companies, not the NEED of the hungry people. People are hungry not because we are not able to produce, but because the food production base is being systematically destroyed by the interventions of the profit-seeking companies. They want to make business out of our hunger!"
Farida Akhtar, UBINIG. Policy Research for Development Alternatives, Bangladesh

"Greater concentration of ownership inherent in the new technologies, and laws drawn up to protect them, is set to repeat and worsen one of the great mistakes of the green revolution. More dependence and marginalisation loom for the poorest. The inability to contain genetic material once released into the environment means that even field trials of new crops are tantamount to uncontrolled, irreversible experiments and invasions of the global commons."
Christian Aid report - Selling Suicide: farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries

"We consider the use of the South's rural poverty to justify the monopoly control and global use of genetically modified food production by the North's transnational corporations, not only an obstructive lie, but a way of derailing the solutions to our Southern rural poverty. It is the height of cynical abuse of the corporations' position of advantage."
Joint statement signed by over 40 developing country NGOs

"It is only too obvious to concerned scientists, farmers and citizens alike that we are about to repeat, step by step, the mistakes of the insecticide era, even before it is behind us. I would even argue that these new miracle technologies are mostly not necessary, let alone desirable, to solve the world's food security problem."
Hans R.Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya; winner of the 1995 World Food Prize

"Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security."
Christian Aid report: Biotechnology and GMOs

'GM is a step too far. It’s the last flowering of a discredited form of agriculture.'
Donald Morton, Norfolk farmer farming 730 acres

"GM crops are not the solution to feeding the world. As a farmer, I am an environmental manager and do not see the need to start tinkering with nature when the outcome could have very serious long-term risks… We have pushed the land to the limit and GM is supposed to be the solution. This isn't true.'
Henry Birkbeck, one of Norfolk's biggest landowners, farming 8,500 acres

"There are still hungry people in Ethiopia, but they are hungry because they have no money, no longer because there is no food to buy... we strongly resent the abuse of our poverty to sway the interests of the European public."
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher of the Institute of Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa on the way pro-GM scientists try to promote GM crops through emotional blackmail: saying they are vital to feed the world

"There are 800 million hungry people in the world; 34,000 children starve to death every day. There are those who consider this a tragedy, and then there are the biotech companies and their countless PR firms, who seem to consider it a flawless hook for product branding. It is an insult of the highest and most grotesque order to turn those who live from day to day into the centerpiece of an elaborate lie.  ...the companies who make [GE foods], and the flacks who hawk their falsehoods, offer us a new definition of depravity, a new standard to plunge for in our race to care least, want more, and divest ourselves of all shame."
Michael Manville - Welcome to the Spin Machine

FIND OUT MORE - READ THE REPORT: 'Feeding or Fooling the World - Can GM really feed the hungry?'
download (as a pdf file) the Five Year Freeze's new report (October 2002)

"Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security."
Christian Aid report: "Biotechnology and GMOs"
 

"There are still hungry people in Ethiopia, but they are hungry because they have no money, no longer because there is no food to buy... we strongly resent the abuse of our poverty to sway the interests of the European public."
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher of the Institute of Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa on the way pro-GM scientists try to promote GM crops through emotional blackmail: saying they are vital to feed the world
 

"History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day... Today, patenting of life forms and the genetic engineering which it stimulates, is being justified on the grounds that it will benefit society, especially the poor, by providing better and more food and medicine. But in fact, by monopolising the 'raw' biological materials, the development of other options is deliberately blocked. Farmers therefore, become totally dependent on the corporations for seeds".
Prof. Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement Kenya
 

"It is only too obvious to concerned scientists, farmers and citizens alike that we are about to repeat, step by step, the mistakes of the insecticide era, even before it is behind us. I would even argue that these new miracle technologies are mostly not necessary, let alone desirable, to solve the world's food security problem."
Hans R.Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya; winner of the 1995 World Food Prize
 
 

Paddy work  Mr Borojjappa, a farmer from Karnataka, southern India, weeds his paddy field (photo March 2000 - from the collection of Hugh Warwick <hedgehog@gn.apc.org>)

FIND OUT MORE - READ THE REPORT: 'Feeding or Fooling the World - Can GM really feed the hungry?'
download (as a pdf file) the Five Year Freeze's new report (October 2002)

feeding the world

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