Seeds of Destruction:
The Geopolitics of GM Food
WILLIAM ENGDAHL / Current Concerns (Zurich) n.5, 6mar2005
In June 2003, President George W. Bush made the issue of lifting an 8-year European Union ban on genetically modified (GM) plants a matter of US national strategic priority. This came only days after the US occupation of Baghdad. The timing was not accidental. Since that time, EU resistance to GM plants has crumbled, as has that of Brazil, and other key agriculture producing nations. One year before, the future of GM crops was in doubt.
Now, some months and enormous pressure later, the strategists of GM food hegemony are on the verge of a control over the global human and animal food chain never held by any single nation or power.
The present debate over the nature of biotechnology and genetic modification of basic food such as maize or soybeans, misses the most essential point. The conversion of world agriculture by a small elite of biotech companies, most US-based, has little to do with corporate greed. It has very much to do with geopolitics and plans of some people to control world population growth over the coming decades.
The nature of American power projection in the world today rests on the development of key strategic advantages which no other combination of nations can challenge, what the Pentagon planners term, "full spectrum dominance." This includes global military dominance. It includes dominance of the world's limited, and rapidly depleting petroleum supplies. It includes control of the world's reserve currency, the dollar. And today it most definitely includes future control of world agriculture through control of GM patents and GM crops.
Before the end of the decade, if present trends continue, US global dominance will be based on control of the food supply of most of this planet, far more than military or even energy control. The geopolitical dimension of this prospect bears careful examination.
A Rockefeller Trojan horse
The agency at the center of the GM controversy is the Rockefeller Foundation in New York. Over the past decade, this influential private foundation has spent more than $100 million in sponsoring research and development of GM crops to be deployed in world food production. They have specifically targeted key developing nations in their effort.
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Their public statements suggest noble motives: "The Rockefeller Foundation is a global foundation with a mandate and a commitment to enrich and sustain the lives of the poor and excluded throughout the world," said foundation president, Gordon Conway, in a 1999 speech to the Monsanto Company, the world's largest producer of GM seeds and pesticides. Conway cites as justification for the GM revolution in agriculture the projections of an added 2 billion people in the world by 2020, amid a decline in existing agriculture yields, and increased degradation of soils and ecology. All indications suggest this is not the real reason GM plants are being promoted with a fervor.
Over the past 18 years, the Rockefeller Foundation has played a decisive role worldwide in spreading the acceptance of radical practices of genetic modification to countries and laboratories where a direct US Government research program would be greeted with greatest suspicion. The Rockefeller Foundation is, in effect, the Trojan Horse of GM proliferation.
It has gained entry in key countries in part by selecting key scientists from select developing countries to be educated and trained in the US or other industrial countries under foundation programs and auspices. It has done this by funding GM research and by using its influence in government and other agencies and NGO's. To date more than 400 leading scientists from the Philippines to Thailand to Kenya to China have been trained and cultivated by the foundation.
The Rockefeller Foundation has a murky past, since its creation in 1914 out of the Rockefeller family Standard Oil Trust fortune. Well before 1945, the foundation had been a leading funder of eugenics research, work made infamous by the Nazi race purity experiments. This included Rockefeller support to the American Eugenics Society and the Population Council. As the race breeding policies of the German Third Reich came to light after the war, Rockefeller strategists shifted profile to champion the causes of environment, resource scarcity and over-population. The policy remained one of global population reduction. (1).
Kissinger and NSSM 200
Since more than a quarter century, Rockefeller Foundation energy has been focused on biotechnology and genetic engineering research and promotion. This comes after decades of involvement in various population control schemes for the developing world. There is no contradiction.
In 1972 President Nixon named foundation board member, John D. Rockefeller III, to chair a Presidential Commission on "Population and the American Future." The same Rockefeller created the Population Council in 1952, and openly called for "zero population growth."
Rockefeller's Commission on Population and the American Future laid the foundation for Henry Kissinger's National Security memorandum, NSSM 200, of April 1974, which cited population growth in strategic, raw materials rich developing countries as a US national security concern of the highest priority.
During the 1970's, when Kissinger was National Security Council director as well as Secretary of State, food and oil emerged as strategic US national security commodities. Kissinger initiated the controversial "oil-for-food" strategy in which a food-deficient USSR imported vast sums of US grain and paid it with large export of Soviet oil for dollars. US domestic oil production, outside Alaska, had peaked in 1970 and began a steady decline. The US was becoming increasingly an oil import nation. National security became tied to security of cheap imported oil, and food was a weapon in the US security arsenal from that time on. Kissinger's Cabinet colleague, Agriculture Secretary, Earl Butz, reflected the Kissinger policy when he stated, "Hungry men listen only to those who have a piece of bread. Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the US negotiating kit." Kissinger was then chief negotiator.
In 1974, Kissinger submitted the NSSM 200 memorandum to President Nixon, naming population growth in key raw-materials rich developing countries as, a US "national security threat." Since that time, control of economic growth rates and population growth in key developing countries has been US national security priority.
Kissinger owed his political career since the late 1950's to his stint as a researcher for the Rockefeller family, and owed his rise to power to their backing. The Rockefeller family had been at the center of US oil and raw materials geopolitics since early in the 1900's, when the Standard Oil Trust was built. Kissinger was well aware of the importance of food and energy to US national interests.
With Kissinger's NSSM 200, Washington official policy was to impose restrictions on fast-growing developing countries, policies which would significantly cut population growth. In NSSM 200, Kissinger implied that famine might be an effective way to reduce population: "…large-scale famine of a kind not experienced for several decades - a kind the world thought had been permanently banished," was foreseeable, he wrote. He remarked that the US and other donor countries would not be likely to provide necessary food export to the afflicted regions.
In 1975, Kissinger's successor as National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, later a Kissinger business partner, wrote, "United States leadership is essential to combat population growth, to implement the World Population Plan of Action and to advance United States security and overseas interests. The President endorses…NSSM 200…," Scowcroft added.
Kissinger's NSSM 200 document, classified secret and not made public until 1989, took estimates of world population growth to the end of the century and beyond, and the impact on the need for food and raw materials, notably energy. "Growing populations will have a serious impact on the need for food especially in the poorest, fastest growing LDC's," Kissinger stated. "World needs for food rise by 2.5% or more a year at a time when readily available fertilizer and well-watered land is already largely being utilized. Therefore, additions to food production must come from higher yields," the Government memo declared. It was at this time that the Rockefeller Foundation also began large research in genetic engineering of plants, including rice, ostensibly to raise yields.
With NSSM 200, Washington made implementation of population control programs a pre-condition for US financial aid, even famine relief. Washington ensured that birth reduction was adopted as official policy by the IMF, World Bank and the UN. Beginning the mid-1970's all IMF and World Bank aid to developing target countries was tied to their willingness to accept population control policies dictated by Washington.
NSSM 200 explicitly listed 13 countries as "key countries" in which the US held a "special political and strategic interest." These were: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Their population growth was deemed especially worrisome to US national interests, according to Kissinger. Notably, every key country has been subjected to major social, economic and military upheaval since 1974. US food aid, even in famine, was withheld from countries refusing to adopt US-mandated birth control or population reduction policies. (2).
NSSM 200 continues as unofficial US Government policy to the present day, despite public Bush Administration concessions to Catholic Right to Life groups. In this, the role of the Rockefeller Foundation is central to Washington policy regarding genetic engineering in world agriculture, especially that in key developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Rockefeller's GM proliferation network
In 1971 the Rockefeller Foundation, together with the Ford Foundation and the World Bank, established the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which runs 16 research centers around the world, most in developing countries, spending some $350 million annually. The focus of CGIAR is the spread of GM crops in the developing world.
CGIAR today operates under the umbrella of the World Bank, and has drawn 20 developing countries in as sponsors. World Bank aid is administered on the basis of a recipient agreeing to impose population control policies, the present form of NSSM 200, but with Washington officially in the background. Thus, the Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, Monsanto and other agri-giants and the US Government, all meet under CGIAR auspices.
The CGIAR mission is to promote "sustainable agriculture for food security." To do this, CGIAR has used its funds and government influence to take control of one of the world's largest collections of plant genetic resources. CGIAR then makes the materials available to companies like Monsanto and Syngenta, "so that new gene combinations can be used to increase productivity, sustainably," as they state. In turn, CGIAR mobilizes biotechnology proliferation in developing countries. CGIAR trains the most promising national scientists and researchers in biotechnology, insuring that cadre of pro-GM national researchers will promote the spread of GM agriculture and biotechnology back home.
In addition to its role in establishing CGIAR, the Rockefeller Foundation has been a major donor to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications or ISAAA.
Every US President since George H.W. Bush in 1992, has made support of genetically engineered crops a matter of highest national priority. The example of US-AID backing for the Rockefeller Foundation's ISAAA is exemplary.
The ISAAA was originally founded with Rockefeller Brothers' Fund money for the sole purpose to "facilitate the delivery of proprietary biotechnologies from the corporate labs of the industrialized world into the food and farming systems of the South."
How this works becomes clear when the current financial sponsors of the ISAAA are known. In addition to the Rockefeller Foundation, sponsors include Monsanto (USA), Syngenta (Swiss), Dow AgroSciences (USA), Pioneer Hi-Bred (USA), Cargill (USA), Bayer CropScience (Germany), and a mysterious "Anonymous Donor "(USA), and US-AID of the State Department.
The argument of the institutions behind ISAAA is that the developing world is where a rising population makes growing food demand most acute, but where economic resources are least able to meet the needs. Hence, ISAAA enables the introduction of corporate GM technologies and crops from the industrial world into the South, acting as "honest brokers" in their words.
As the Kissinger NSSM 200 targeted 13 developing countries in 1974 for population reduction, the ISAAA targets 12 countries for introduction of GM crops. Six of these countries are the same as Kissinger listed in 1974: Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Egypt. In addition, ISAAA lists Malaysia, Vietnam, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Argentina and Costa Rica.
By their own admission, the ISAAA launches propaganda offensives to counter hostility to GM crops, and they train science elites from the target countries, often bringing them to USA or other leading GM research centers such as the Monsanto Life Sciences Research Center, to learn the world of GM elite research. Randy Hautea is head of the group's SEAsia Center in the Philippines, based in the center established by the Rockefeller Foundation's International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Hautea recently stated that his group has targeted Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam because, "they all have the political will to pursue and adopt biotechnology applications." What Hautea did not say was that introduction of GM seeds means introduction of costly GM pesticides and other policies which only global agribusiness companies are able to carry out.
Food production of target countries is being transformed into the global agribusiness market, not longer available for national food security. Hautea does not say how biotechnology brought in to, say, Indonesia or Malaysia by Syngenta or Monsanto, contributes to the benefit of small farmers, the heart of their food production. To date, in fact, there exists no proof of any benefit from GM crops for family farmers. In fact the opposite is the case. Farmers are often coerced or forced to buy Monsanto GM seeds or other GM seeds by their governments.
Through ISAAA and related networks of organizations, the Rockefeller Foundation is at the center of the worldwide actions of Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill and Dow Agri-sciences, Syngenta, Bayer AG and other major biotech giants, dominating the ongoing "new Green Revolution" as Rockefeller's Conway terms it. (3).
Spreading the GM control
The list of major GM plants today includes GM rice, soybeans, corn, oilseeds, and numerous other basic food crops. The Rockefeller Foundation has played a key fostering role in the development of most major new types.
More than 70% of all processed foods Americans consume comes today from GM products. Almost all the animal feed used to feed cattle, and other animals in the US and in major world markets today is GM feed, mainly soymeal and corn.
Most Americans are ignorant of what they eat. The US government has refused to label food that contains GM inputs. A new EU food labelling law also does not require producers to identify animal products fed on GM feed, leaving consumers ignorant of what GM products they eat. In 2003, the total acreage planted to GM seeds worldwide was 167 million acres or 68 million hectares according to ISAAA data. This was a 15% rise in one year. The United States is the largest GM grower with 106 million acres of genetically modified soybeans, corn and cotton. Worldwide, 55% of all soybeans grown now are GM crops. Soymeal is one of the most essential and richest protein sources for animal and human consumption. Every bite of a McDonald's hamburger contains as much as 30% of GM soyameal.
Without even realizing, most people in North America, East Asia and Europe regularly eat products or animals fed from GM crops. What is most remarkable is the fact that farmers in North America, Australia, Argentina, and more recently after a long battle, in Brazil, have surrendered their control over seeds to a handful of multinational biotech giants who have a deliberate strategy to dominate and control the planting of basic food crops worldwide.
The terminator not dead
If emerging nations from China to India to Indonesia and beyond, were to manage to create a food self-sufficiency independent of reliance on US or OECD food suppliers, the ability of the United States to remain the dominant power would diminish, regardless of military might.
What better way to control the destiny of China, India, East Asia and the rest of the world than to establish permanent control over their ability to grow food? Enter Monsanto and the agriculture biotechnology cartel, who dominate GM crops globally. Just two years ago it seemed Monsanto might be headed into financial ruin. Today, it is on the verge of becoming the one of the single most powerful corporations in the world.
Interestingly, it was the direct intervention of the Rockefeller Foundation in October 1999, which was responsible for the widely-touted decision of Monsanto "not to commercialize" its 'terminator technology' for GM seeds. Monsanto president Robert Shapiro wrote to the Rockefeller Foundation that it would "shelve" or put on hold its "sterile seed" technology, formally called Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT). The Monsanto decision was a tactical ploy, taken on advice of Rockefeller's Conway, to defulse growing opposition to GM crops, especially in Europe. Monsanto's terminator seed technology, in which the US Department of Agriculture also holds part patent rights, has been called the ultimate weapon, the 'neutron bomb' of agriculture, rightly so.
Terminator seeds would solve a major problem for Monsanto and other GM giants in collecting seed fees in the developing world for patented GM seeds, something made possible a few years ago by GATT trade talks on patent rights.
Free trade in agriculture is today at the heart of the WTO. Under the treaty of the World Trade Organization, created by the GATT Uruguay trade round in the early 1990's, multinational corporations now have the right, enforced by WTO sanctions, to collect royalty payments for "intellectual property."
The Uruguay agreement, ratified by all GATT member countries under enormous US pressure, allows a corporation for the first time, to patent a specific plant variety, even though that plant sort might have been in the public domain in a country such as Pakistan or Peru for thousands of years. The WTO term is Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPs. Washington pushed the controversial TRIPs agreement through GATT, accusing developing countries of 'piracy' in not paying due royalties to multinationals, claiming US companies were losing hundreds on millions in unpaid fees for fertilizer and seeds or drugs. Mickey Kantor, US Trade Representative who negotiated the Uruguay Round talks, today sits on the board of Monsanto.
The TRIPs WTO agreement includes patent rights on GM plants. Under TRIPs the Swiss agri-tech company, Syngenta, holds control potentially of most of the rice in Pakistan, India and Asia. Monsanto dominates patents on soybeans, corn, cotton and other major crops. Their only problem is how to collect royalty payments from millions of small peasant farmers. Collecting patent payments for GM seeds in many developing countries is extremely difficult.
Not so, if terminator seeds are sold. Terminator technology, which Monsanto paid $1.6 billion to acquire, allows introduction of a 'suicide gene' into plants such as corn or cotton or soya or potentially, even wheat. A farmer using terminator seeds no longer will be able to share seeds with other farmers or plant his own in following years. He will be forced to turn to Monsanto each season to buy his existence, in the form of more suicide seeds, as well as the special herbicides Monsanto has developed to be used with it. The original developers of terminator technology, Delta & Pine Land Seed, which Monsanto bought in 1998, specifically noted that the rice and wheat markets of China, India, Pakistan and such major population countries was the target of terminator. The political implications of such a development are easy to imagine.
Rockefeller Foundation funds vaccines with hidden birth-control hormones
The Rockefeller Foundation is among the funders of a WHO program in "reproductive health" which has developed a tetanus vaccine that allegedly contains hidden birth-control hormones.
According to a report from the Global Vaccine Institute, the WHO has overseen massive vaccination campaigns against tetanus in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines since the early 1990's. Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Catholic organization, tested numerous vials of the vaccine and found them to contain human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), a natural hormone needed to maintain a pregnancy. When combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier, it stimulates formation of antibodies against hCG, rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy. Similar reports of vaccines laced with hCG hormones have come from the Philippines and Nicaragua.
The organization confirmed several other curious facts about the WHO vaccination programs. Tetanus vaccine was given only to women, between ages 15-45, not men or children. The presence of hCG is a clear contamination of the vaccine. It does not belong. With financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, the Population Council, Ford Foundation, among others, the WHO has been working for 20 years to develop an anti-fertility vaccine using hCG with tetanus and other vaccines, according to scientific articles published on the effort by WHO. This has been documented by WHO and others, including the respected British medical journal, The Lancet, June 11, 1988, "Clinical Trials of a WHO Borth Control Vaccine."
To mid-1993 the WHO had spent a total of $365 million of such research funds on "reproductive health" including research on implanting hCG into tetanus vaccine. WHO has been unable to answer why women vaccinated were found with anti-hCG antibodies. They feebly replied it was "insignificant." The vaccine was produced by Connaught Laboratories Ltd of Canada and Intervex and CSL Laboratories of Australia.
Since the 1920's the Rockefeller Foundation has been among the leading sponsors of population reduction programs worldwide. If the reports of birth control vaccines are true, it is not difficult to suspect the Rockefeller Foundation is also among those planning to use genetically modified seeds technology as a potential means to control world population growth through future control of food supply.
The Rockefeller-Monsanto public relations maneuver "not to commercialize" terminator seeds was clearly designed to defuse growing opposition to proliferation of GM seeds, to buy time while allowing them to spread GM crops to the world's largest growing areas - North America, Argentina, Brazil and now, the EU. Once spread, it is simple to shift to terminator.
In February 2003, at a meeting of the International Seed Federation in Lyon France, Monsanto's Roger Krueger released a paper titled, "The Benefits of GURTs." It argued that terminator in fact would benefit poor farmers. Monsanto argues in a new ploy, that terminator would in fact hinder spread of unwanted GM genes to non-GM plants, promoting the same idea in new clothes as a "biosafety" tool. Clearly they believe opposition to terminator and GM is falling. Reports are that Monsanto would be ready to introduce commercial terminator or GURT seeds in 3-4 years.
Dual use and GM crops: Biowarfare?
The days are long past when the USDA represented the interests of America's family farmers. Today, US agri-business, dominated by a dozen or more giant international concerns, is the second most profitable industry next to pharmaceuticals, and has annual value of well over $800 billion. The USDA today is the organized lobby of agri-business giants, none more influential than Monsanto. Bush Administration official, Ann Veneman, USDA Secretary, is a former board member of a Monsanto company and, not surprisingly, a strong advocate of GM. Several other Bush officials have ties to Monsanto as well.
Terminator and related GM technologies in the hands of Monsanto and less than half-a-dozen corporations worldwide, backed by the USDA, Defense Department and State Department, could open the door to potential forms of biological warfare against entire populations not imagined before. A recent US Air Force study states that "biological weapons offer greater possibilities for use than do nuclear weapons."
Washington US-AID food assistance for Africa in recent months has been linked to willingness of a country to accept US GM crops. US assistance to combat AIDS in Africa has similar strings. GM has clearly become a strategic, geopolitical tool for Washington.
Defenders of GM technology argue that no one in their right mind would consider such a drastic use of GM crops as to control entire areas of world food supply. "We're tempted to say that nobody in their right mind would ever use these things." Stanford biology professor Steven Block stated in another context. Block hastened to add, "But not everybody is in their right mind!" Block, a leading consultant to the US Government, went on to warn, "Any technology that can be used to insert genes into DNA can be used for either good or bad." Genetic engineering can create rice with enhanced vitamin A, but can just as well create seeds containing highly toxic bacteria. US researchers first did this in 1986. Genetic engineering of more toxic and harder to detect bioweapons was a major motivation for nations to call for a stronger convention on bioweapons.
The US Government's controversial drug eradication program in Colombia, since discontinued, would spray crops with deadly glyphosate. Glyphosate, under the patent name, Roundup, is the GM herbicide sold by Monsanto also for its GM plants. The Bush Administration has repeatedly refused to back a legally binding Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, arguing it needs the freedom to develop defense against biowarfare. Freedom can work both ways however.
Genetic manipulation opens the possibilities in the hands of a malevolent power, to unleash untold harm on the human species. Even were it to be the case that GM plants increase yields, which is not at all proven, this potential for control of the food supply of entire nations is too much power to give to any single corporation or government. Essential foods, like fresh water, are no ordinary commodities to be sold under rules of an imposed free market. They are basic human rights as the right to breathe. We should not tempt any government with the power that present GM strategists advocate over our food security.
1. B.K. Eakman, "The Cloning of the American Mind," gives information on Rockefeller Foundation funding of eugenics.
s. Jim Heron, "Population Politics and the Shambles of Africa in http://catholiceducation.org/articles/population/pc0005.html.
2. National Security Strategy Memorandum, NSSM 200, "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests," National Security Council, April 24, 1974, Henry Kissinger, director, National Security Council. "The Over-population cabal" in Mindszenty Report, Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, April 1999, www.mindszenty.org.report/1999/April1999.html .
3. "ISAAA in Asia promoting corporate profits in the name of the poor," October 2000, in www.grain.org/publications/reports/isaaa.html.
4. The Monsanto terminator seed plans are described in "Monsanto Breaks Promise to Abandon Terminator Technology," April 23, 2003, http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/promise042403.cfm. "Biological warfare against crops," by Simon Whitby, reviewed in www.rainbowbody.net/Ongwhehonwhe/plantwar.htm notes the US use of Roundup against crops in Colombia. "Biological warfare emerges as 21st Century threat," by Mark Schwartz in Stanford Report, January 11, 2001, details the warnings of Block, a member of the top-secret Government research group, Jason. The US Air Force has published on the subject, "Biological Weapons for Waging Economic Warfare," by Lt. Col. Robert Kadlec who speaks of "using biological warfare to attack livestock, crops or ecosystems." In www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/battle/chp10.html, also www.sunshine-project.org/bwintro/gebw.html.
source: http://www.currentconcerns.ch/archive/2004/05/20040505.php 5mar2005