ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

25 November 2002


Devinder Sharma is in London today and speaking at the conference mentioned below which, with the exception of one other speaker, has an aggressively pro-GM line up that includes Dennis Avery - see item 2

1. Hi-tech crops 'will not save poor'
2. Avery over London ­ Londoners take cover!


1. Hi-tech crops 'will not save poor'

Paul Brown
The Guardian, November 25 2002,2763,846939,00.html

With plenty of food available to feed the hungry of the world, claiming that bio-technology or free trade is needed to solve the problem is a deliberate distortion, a distinguished Indian expert will tell the World Conference on Food and Farming in London today.

The conference, timed to coincide with the Royal Smithfield Show, is sponsored largely by the bio-tech industry to promote their products but Devindar Sharma, chairman of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in New Delhi is using his paper to attack the industry and politicians who promote it.

He also pours scorn on the UN food and agriculture organisation's target of halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015. He says this could be achieved overnight if political leaders from his own country, the EU, and the US had the political will.

Yesterday he said that India had 320 million people who went to bed hungry each night, yet India had 65,000 tonnes of food in store, much of which was being exported. The problem was simply that the poor could not afford to buy the food, while India was able to acquire much needed foreign currency by exporting wheat and rice.

"In any other country... food exports are only allowed after the nation's food requirements have been adequately met." The US government spends around £30bn making food available to an estimated 25 million people living below the poverty line. In India, food prices were continually rising, and, with the percentage of the population earning less than a dollar a day also keeping pace, more and more people were finding it difficult to meet daily food needs, he said.

India, encouraged by the World Trade Organisation, exported the grain that the poor could not afford to buy.

A belief in a biotechnological silver bullet that could solve hunger, malnutrition, and real poverty had prompted industry, politicians, and policy makers to see in it immense potential - with the inability of the poor to afford to buy food being "conveniently overlooked", he said.



Dennis Avery is in London to lead round table discussions on GM food aid at the US embassy on Monday the 25th of November, 2002 - an event boycotted by UK NGOs in disgust at such a role being given to someone like Avery in relation to such an important and sensitive issue. Avery's also speaking at the ferociously pro-GM World Food and Farming conference being held at Olympia on 25th and 26th November - tickets 1,000 pounds plus.
Avery's already been slagging off organic agriculture at a meeting of the British Crop Protection Council in London, claiming that, if widely adopted, it will lead to "an environmental catastrophe". Avery, whose work is supported by Monsanto, DuPont, Novartis, ConAgra, DowElanco and others who profit from the sale of products prohibited in organic production, also previously claimed organic farming will lead to mass starvation, and that it is more likely to poison you, giving rise to such newspaper headlines as "Organic food--'It's eight times more likely to kill you'" and "Organic food link to E. coli deaths."  - see:  'Dennis Avery: Big Daddy of the!'
Avery's claims on organic are so ludicrous that even Greg Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the co-founder of AgBioWorld, has criticised his grasp of statistics. Conko told Avery on Prakash's pro-GM list, AgBioView, that the extreme selectivity of Avery's statistics on killer organics, "doesn't seem to be convincing anybody who doesn't already have a predilection to believe you in the first place".
In contrast to Avery, a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report concludes organic practices actually reduce the e-coli infection that causes food poisoning and they also reduce the levels of contaminants in foods.
With regard to feeding the world, Prof Jules Pretty of Essex University, an expert on farming in the Third World, has reported evidence from research in 20 countries on how more than 2 million families are farming successfully and sustainably with low inputs or fully organic systems and without GMOs. And this is often occurring in remote and resource-poor areas assumed incapable of producing food surpluses.
Londoners anxious to avoid any heightened risk of Avery-contamination during the period of the London Dennathon, can see multiple mug shots of the master statistician here:
for more on the organic attackers:

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