ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
22 August 2002


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
More information on Anjamma and the citizens' jury can be found on or
Powerhouse or poorhouse? New Scientist article
For an article on another citizens' jury involving Indian farmers in the state of Karnataka:

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