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Will
Genetically Engineered Foods
Feed the World? 

Paul Goettlich / Mindfully.org 

Rev. 3jun2006

[More by Paul Goettlich]

Introduction

First, please note that this is a work in progress
and that your comments and questions are quite 
welcome. Comment on this page.

This article examines the premise that Genetically Engineered Foods (also known as genetically modified foods; GMOs; GE foods; Frankenfoods; and so on) are the answer to ending world hunger. I feel that asking if GE foods will feed the world is at best an illogical primary question. Even more so, the question itself is a tactic meant to divert public attention from the real problems — inequality, discrimination, selfish leaders, war, flooding and drought, snow and rain, extreme temperatures and more. The diversions are made possible by political contributions, and lobbyists and media consultants hired by the agbiotech industry, as well as their gifts and contracts to academia, which is presently in the dark ages with respect to honesty. No sector is without fault. And it is far easier to list the innocent than the guilty. 

Most biotech industry studies and publications are highly visible forms of disinformation* that impact public opinion by both confusing the issues and intentionally providing false information that put GE foods in a favorable light. The intent of the massive, lobbying, public outreach, and advertising expenditures has been to rocket the proliferation of GE foods throughout the world before anyone was aware of the consequences. And indeed, nobody can predict the consequences because there is no precedent in the history of life on earth.

* dis·in·for·ma·tion 
Pronunciation: (")di-"sin-f&r-'mA-sh&n
Function: noun
: false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth 
Merriam-Webster 

The impetus for beginning this study came from a relative who asked my opinion of a commentary by Dr. Florence Wambugu in the Los Angeles Times on November 11, 2001 entitled “Protesters Don't Grasp Africa's Need” [below]. In it, Dr. Wambugu complained that protesters of GE foods are the wealthy of developed nations who do not know the problems of the starving African. Her comments are both compelling and convincing if one has no knowledge of genetically engineered crops or the causes of hunger. And because she is a native of Kenya and a GE scientist, she makes a wonderful poster child for the industry as well. And use her they most certainly do. 

Background: Wambugu Wambuzling Again: Says GM Sweet Potato a Resounding Success?

For the most part, people in developed countries, especially the US, believe that hunger is caused by a lack of food. They think that hunger is something that happens to backwards people in far-off lands where they do not have the magnificent technology and determination that "Americans" have. These starving people are seen as slovenly and lazy. And much like a child's fable about the little animals who did not store nuts for the winter. They might say, "Of course, it is through their own fault that they are hungry."

On the surface, and in a literal context, hunger, starvation and death can most definitely caused by a lack of food by the hungry. I do not argue with this point. But what causes this great lack of food is not so easily relieved by producing more of it. 

And Wambugu, because she is African and black, transnational corporations (TNC) in agribusiness spotlight her, telling us that the only way to feed these people is to improve the efficiency of farming through the use of these advanced technologies — that the output must increase if we are to feed the starving people. It always comes to this point and this point alone. The logic also goes that anyone who is against this wonderful new technology that will obviously save the poor from starvation is a monster, hence her complaint about protestors. It is from this extremely limited view, biotech corporations attempt to corral the arguments and hawk their wares.

So, if you are like those who only hear the heart-break reasoning without understanding the deeper issues at hand, then read no further, for this article is not for you. Go to CNN or Fox News to be fed the usual nonsense that has been heavily censored so as not to upset the advertisers income.

However, if you're willing to work to understand a few parts of the issue, please read on. What follows is of course not the only issues to be discussed, but it is a beginning.

 

There are many causes of hunger and starvation that have little to do with the amount of food that is produced in the world. Just as they know nothing of the causes of hunger, many in the US have no concept of the ramifications of propagating GE foods on massive monocultured farms, nor do they know how the likes of Monsanto came to control much of the world’s food supply. For decades, these TNCs have been undermining legislation, public policy, and law enforcement. There is a readily available history of deception, bribery, bullying, and outright lying by Monsanto.* 

__________________________________
*  Fagan, D., Lavelle, M., and the Center for Public Integrity. How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law, and Endangers Your Health. Birch Lane Publishing Group 1996 

* Much more on Monsanto

Done for the sole purpose of profit and control, Industry sees the expenditure of vast amounts of money to facilitate these acts as nothing more than just another cost of doing business. To them, there is no shame involved, although we see them as something much worse than dishonorable and despicable. For they see the poor and hungry as a market to profit on by any means. And the means employed are, in many cases, ingeniously circuitous and deceptive. In other cases they simply buy off congress in order to expedite legislation that improves their market in some way. There is essentially a mainstream media news black-out with regards to the negative effects of GMOs, as well as with most subjects that would make us all healthier and happier.

Controlling public opinion is a delaying tactic that has worked most excellently. It certainly worked with progressive activist organizations for a few years. And by the time consumers come to the conclusion that they have been duped, the control will have been won. At this time — 2006 — it looks as if most people have heard only the promises of GE foods and nothing of the horrors besides the cute little Frankenfood posters from Greenpeace in the US. While US citizens sit mesmerized by TVs and are content to eat mostly inedible food from a mega-corporate agricultural machine, people in other countries are much more connected to food and production methods, and demand wholesomeness and honesty. 

The prospect of a handful of companies controlling the world’s food supply should elicit fear in hearts all around the world. But the rapid loss of biodiversity and complete contamination of all genetic code is quite a bit more permanent than human control. Once these strange new genes are let lose, there is no taking them back.

The purpose of GE foods is the final coup d'état of the world’s food supply. It has nothing to do with science, or benevolence. The eyes of corporate CEOs’ are strictly on the prize. And it’s a fantastic prize where, in their minds, any price paid is worth it. The price includes forcing millions to live in misery, a loss of biodiversity and culture, and the eternal pollution of the genetic coding of all living things. This is no small feat. Such things bring to mind a triptych, the Garden of Earthly Delight*(large file 3 x 200 Kb), painted in about 1504 by Hieronymus Bosch. Named for the garden depicted in the central panel, featuring an orgy of nudes, giant birds, and fruit. It illustrates the history of the world and progression of sin. From the left, it begins with Adam and Eve’s original sin and evolves through the central Garden of Delights that illustrates a world deeply engaged in sinful pleasures, and on to the torture of eternal hell, with no savior. With Bosch's work providing the correct visual accompaniment, Carl Orff's O Fortuna from Carmina Burana* (1934) is equally appropriate music to set the mood.

______________________________________
* Bosch, Hieronymus. The Garden of Earthly Delight. c. 1504; Triptych, plus shutters; Oil on panel; Central panel, 220 x 195 cm; Wings, 220 x 97 cm; Museo del Prado, Madrid. 

* Carl Orff (1895-1982) From Carmina Burana, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi- O Fortuna 1934 - played by the Berkeley Community Choir and Orchestra (1997)

s

Since the greatest increases in the world’s population are in Least Developed Nations (LDN), this is where TNC priorities are concentrated. Having spent many billions of dollars promoting and defending GE foods, the assumption is that people are hungry because there is not enough food. To them the answer is obvious, to increase production. Their answer was arrived at before they asked a logical question. Furthermore, logical questions are purposefully avoided in order to maintain profitability. But this is the state of science today in both academic and corporate sectors. It is a fairytale land where the players wear firmly-fitted blinders in order to continue merrily on their way to a paycheck. This is in no way an exaggeration and is easily witnessed where ever one looks. Profit is the starting point of all their work and it is the only justification required to produce any of their products. In some instances, even less justification is required — I can, therefore I must.

There are many different theories on increasing food production; small-scale organic farms; large-scale organic farms; large-scale commercial farms using synthetic chemical inputs; and large-scale farming using genetically engineered crops and synthetic chemicals. The type of farming employed is most important to the topic of sustainability, but it will not put food on the plates of the starving masses. It may help, but one must focus in a completely different direction for the answer to starvation. Before increasing food production as a means of ending world hunger, one must ask why they are hungry when so much food is available? There are more than 6 billion people on Earth presently, and enough food to feed 9 billion.

There are many reasons why hunger exists in spite of the extreme abundance of food. At some point in time, most of us have heard that it is “a problem of distribution.” What does this really mean? Are any of us exempt from at least attempting to understand what it means? Indeed, through every aspect of our daily lives—our habits and preferences—we each play a role in the cause of hunger throughout the world. We are each, in some way, responsible for the hunger and death by starvation of many thousands of people as we attempt to navigate through each day. Here are a few examples:

Today, with global warming increasing the incidence of storms, heat, cold, drought and flooding, harvest totals can be drastically short of expected yields. With whole areas of land being flooded or burned to the ground, nothing at all will be grown there. Many people are being displaced and/or killed by freak storms and armed conflicts. Realistically, GE crops cannot make up for bad weather and wars. GE crops will not solve the problems of the real world because they are created in the make-believe worlds of laboratories and corporate board rooms full of people who lack common sense. And in fact, they do not deliver on those expansive promises, for GE crops are lower in yield and nutrition, plus they use more petroleum-based chemicals than the normally terrible corporate farming methods.


american flag 4th of july

Americans lived in ignorant bliss until the horrific day of the 11th of September 2001. 

Today, the bliss is gone, but the ignorance remains. Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of scientific and social history is also no excuse. 

Dr. Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear physicist, was held in solitary confinement from December 10, 1999 to September 13, 2000 after being wrongly indicted on 59 felony counts alleging he transferred nuclear weapons information to unsecure computers and tape. On his release, the judge said, “"I sincerely apologize to you for the unfair manner in which you were held in custody by the executive branch. [The Departments of Energy and Justice] have embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it."[i] Even after he was arrested, Dr. Lee believed in the US government and thought it would protect him because he did his work and never paid any attention to political issues. As a result of his experiences with justice in the US, he strongly advises people pay attention to the political arena. He hopes that the youth learn a different type of citizenship than he was taught.[ii]

"Not knowing my rights as an American to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, I was constantly cold, shivering most of the time because all I had was a red jumpsuit ... an undershirt and two very thin blankets. I do believe the American system is the best system in the world, [h]owever, I want to say when the system is handled by the wrong people, our lives can be very miserable."[iii]

Reasons for hunger include, but are not limited to, war, poverty, inequality, discrimination, drought, flooding, and extreme temperatures. Many of these are the direct result of past and present US governmental policies. The US sells arms to many countries, initiating and/or prolonging conflicts. The brutal mishandling, poverty, and deaths of thousands of Palestinians are directly related to the continuing supply of military equipment, moral and financial support the US provides to the right-wing Israeli government. The history of the US is littered with illustrations of its brutally strong-handed and murderous tactics throughout the world. Without much stretching of the facts, even some weather-related issues can be attributed to the US government in part because of the reluctance to wean the country off of fossil fuels and establish sustainable energy use policies and to be a role model for other countries.


  1. Marshall, JM. Wen Ho Lee is free. Salon 13sep00

  2. Zia, H. (co-author of Wen Ho Lee's memoir, "My Country Versus Me.") Interview KPFA radio in Berkeley CA. 16jan02

  3. Associated Press. Wen Ho Lee Speaks Briefly in S.F. 17jan02
    Also see: Stowers, E. Anatomy of a Scandal Pressing Times v.4, n.1, Spring02


Lies

Excuse me for momentarily straying from the main subject of GMOs, but the crash of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers is also a lie. 

Of course it fell. But not the way they would have you believe. I think we live now in a very dark time, for we lack the essentials of truth, honor and justice.

I spent more than 20 years as an architect, coming in contact with the design and construction of a few high-rise buildings. At one point, I worked for the designer of the restaurant at the top of the WTC, Windows on the World. I ate there once and toured the kitchen. When I was a student, my structural steel professor was working on the design of the WTC. He also did some structural design work on Madison Square Garden. He would regularly describe the complex steel structure of the WTC. From my dormitory building, I could see the WTC creeping its way into the sky. And more recently, my nephew was one of the people running from the dust cloud created by the crashing WTC. When I watched the towers falling, what I saw reminded me very much of a planned building demolition. It came straight down. It has taken me a long time to admit to what I actually saw on TV because of the magnitude of such a spectacle. But, if those buildings had actually been weakened by jets — and yes the jets were real and did crash — then the building would have bent in the direction of that crashing jet. Another fact is that jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt or to weaken steel enough to cause a failure, especially that steel with fire proofing on it. I won't get into detail here because this is more about GE foods, but don't you think that if the president could fool the nation about a few buildings falling that the transnational GE industry could fool those same people about their product? I certainly think both are more than possible because I see this is what has happened. To read more on 911, please see 9/11: The Myth and the Reality by Dr. David Ray Griffin. 

The Green Revolution

The Green Revolution* was the chief method of increasing food production from about the mid-20th century until just a few years ago when the Gene Revolution began. Green Revolution farming is a high-output method characterized by the use of massive synthetic chemical inputs on very large fields containing one variety of crops. Over the last 50 years, the inputs have become greater and the machinery has gotten larger, more specialized, and substantially more expensive. These machines have replaced many people who used to be needed in the fields, making it possible for one person to manage hundreds of acres. Massive irrigation and drainage systems have been built over the years.

When this whole thing with GE foods started, not all that long ago, the researchers advised the managers that they weren’t ready to go to full scale planting. But the response they got was, what could go wrong? EXPLAIN and get references.


Q: Will GE foods feed the world? 
A. The quick answer:
 
Only if they get them for free or at a drastically reduced price.

The more detailed answer: Dr. Wambugu instructs anti-GMO protesters to “ask many questions.” Therefore, as an initial response to her assertions to “let the science and the data provide the answers,” and that “[t]he farmers and hungry people of Africa need this technology,” I will ask this one simple question of her:  Why are so many people hungry when there is so much food to spare?


A Closer Look

An enormous spotlight, powered by billions of multinational corporate dollars, shines brilliantly on the potential of GE foods to feed the world, and deliver drugs that will prevent sickness, cancers, and blindness. The operative word is potential, not ability or track record, but potential, as in maybe, and buyers beware. Many people believe that the corporate answer to hunger, genetically modified organisms (GE foods), is the one and only solution. However, logic has been short-circuited when the initial question is: Will GE foods feed the world? The focus is then mistakenly on symptoms rather than problems. A more reasonable initial question is Why are they hungry?

Without initially questioning why they are hungry, it is highly likely that the mountain of money being poured into agbiotech research would be better off being incinerated to warm those in colder climates, or perhaps being used to build shelter for the homeless. By this method, one searches for questions that may be answered with questions that maximize profit, rather than beginning with a hypothesis. Asking if GE foods will feed the starving masses of the world is one such question.

Advertising, Appearances, and Reality

Advertising plays a major role in the attitude of consumers, more so in the US than in the EU. People in the US have faith in the system to protect them, and they believe much of what they are presented in the popular media; television, radio, or newspapers and magazines. Drive through any neighborhood in the US after dark, whether it is rich or poor, and the shimmering light of the television sets will illuminate the windows of house after house. Most people are searching for answers, hoping to learn something.

Unfortunately, programming on TV is a vacuum, draining the minds of America. It is nothing more than a method to enter millions of homes each evening. One might as well read only comic books or cartoons for all the news that is delivered on TV. Even PBS is highly underwritten by many large corporations with something to sell or agenda to promote. A.G. Edwards, Archer Daniels Midland, Chase Manhattan, Fidelity Investments, and Salomon Smith Barney all gave more than a million dollars. Even the US Department of Energy and Army were in the under $1 million range.*

PBS does not bite the hand that feeds it. Sometimes a special program will air nationally PBS. A recent exception was the Bill Moyers’ special “Trade Secrets” about the decades-long conspiracy of the PVC industry to withhold information on the toxicity they exposed their workers to. That night, the NY Times cranked out industry’s denial, much the same as it did when Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring came out in 1962.*

In April of 2001, the local San Francisco PBS station, KQED aired a program about GE foods on the regularly scheduled “This Week in Northern California.” The title was Sowing Science, and it featured many widely known authorities on the subject of GE foods that consumers purchase. Immediately after the show aired it was stricken from any future reruns or reprints available to the public. It is not a mystery why it disappeared. I can only conjecture that industry pressure led PBS to pull it.*

  • Sowing Science KQED TV. "This Week in Northern California" Special on Genetically Engineered Food. Bela Davis, host. Apr01.

Corporate advertising giant, BSMG Worldwide created an advertisement called "good ideas are growing” for a $50 million dollar campaign by a cartel of biotech corporations including DuPont Co., Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co.* According to their website, BSMG Worldwide is “a leading public relations firm, has successfully managed corporate and marketing communications campaigns that have shaped or shifted public opinion for many of the most respected corporations, brands, industry associations, coalitions and nations of the world. The goal of all our campaigns is to shape opinion. Whether that means launching a new product or revitalizing an existing brand, ensuring that a company's employees and shareholders understand corporate strategy, or giving industry a voice on legislative issues that affect future regulation, we deliver strategic, thoughtful and creative programming to achieve the desired goals.”

Jeffrey Bergau, Monsanto’s spokesman for the advertising project said,

"The more people are exposed to information from a variety of sources, the more likely they are to embrace the technology. Our goal is to try to link people to information and data that's based on sound science."

Monsanto has a long history of misleading advertising and has been criticized many times. In March 2001, the UK Advertising Standards Authority said in their annual report that Monsanto among the 10 most complained about last year. Complaining that they were misleading the public about the benefits of [GE foods]. Monsanto had incorrectly stated that it had conducted safety testing throughout the last 20 years. Monsanto apologized and continued churning out other misleading information.*

The Facts?

"Approximately one-fifth of the world’s population live on less than US$ 1 per day
  and nearly a half live on less than US$ 2 per day."

Factual, peer-reviewed, long-term testing is absent for most of the assumptions and claims of agbiotech corporations. Because authoritative views critical of GE foods are routinely misstated, ignored, and/or withheld from the mainstream media, there is practically no way for people to realize that it is an extremely dangerous smoke and mirrors act.

The Malthusian view of the world states that hunger is inevitable because the population grows faster than the rate food production. However, there are presently 6 billion people on earth, and enough food to feed 9 billion. Dr. Miguel Altieri, a professor and entomologist at UC Berkeley, regularly cites this fact. He works directly with peasant farmers in developing countries, and collaborates with many universities, NGOs and research centers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, promoting research, training and sustainable agriculture. He believes that the massive scale of corporate agribusiness is both unsustainable and inaccessible to the poor.

After becoming experienced in ancient agricultural systems, he “realized that Western knowledge is inadequate to deal with the complexities of Third World agriculture.” His deep understanding of the peasant farmers’ needs is what drives his work. Combined with his knowledge of genetic engineering, his love of the people gives him a special insight, making him an authority on exactly what is the best way to feed the millions of malnourished and hungry people.

“The real problems are poverty and distribution: Three billion people live on $2 a day, and people lack access to land to produce the food they need. Furthermore, most of the food that is being produced is fed to cattle. In the United States, seven out of ten pounds of grain are fed to animals. In Latin America, Asia, and Africa there are huge amounts of land that are devoted to soybean production for export to Europe to feed cattle—which, by the way, the Europeans are killing because of mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases.”

“In Latin America, 80 percent of the agricultural land is in the hands of 20 percent of the farmers; and this is the best agricultural land. And all those farmers are exporting their crops for feeding cattle in Europe. Twenty percent of the land is in the hands of 80 percent of the farmers, the peasants. But they are the ones who are producing 50 percent of the potatoes, 60 percent of the corn, and 70 percent of the beans. It is the small and poor farmers who are feeding the continent—not the large farmers.”

“What’s happening today, as globalization takes hold, is that countries are forced to become agro-exporters, to exploit their ‘comparative advantage.’ There’s no reason for Chile to be growing corn when they can grow fruits to sell here in the winter when it’s summer down there. That’s their comparative advantage. But it doesn’t feed their own people.

The fact remains; there are 370 million rural households that are poor and exist in marginal environments. These people have a very important role in food security.”*

Nearly one in three children in the developing world, or 150 million are underweight.[i] There are those who haven’t enough food while at the same time, there are those who are getting far too much. Whether poor or wealthy, most nations are experiencing undernourished and overnourished people living side-by-side. "Obesity has become so rampant that there is no group in the population left unaffected," said Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, a professor of psychology and epidemiology at Yale.[ii]

  1. Gardner, G., Halweil, B. Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. Worldwatch Institute. Worldwatch Paper n.150, Mar00

  2. Angier, N. Who Is Fat? It Depends on Culture. New York Times 7nov00

Dr. D. Gale Johnson is the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Director of the Undergraduate Program, Department of Economics and the College, The University of Chicago. She has an amazing CV that spans about 60 years in academia, as a consultant and economic advisor on countless governmental committees; has served as director and on boards of directors of many organizations dealing with food and economic issues; and has numerous honorary designations. She believes that there is sufficient food to feed all people at the present time, yet hunger prevails because of the lack of peace.

"[T]he world is a bountiful place providing sufficient plenty to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. And this has largely been accomplished where there is political stability and people live in peace."*

In every country, there are groups of people who cannot realize their full human potential, either because their diets are inadequate or, because of sickness, their bodies are unable to benefit fully from the food they consume. In the poorest countries, the majority of people are affected by hunger, greatly magnifying the scope of other correctable defects in efforts to meet basic human needs.*

Help Waldo Find the Logic

Help Waldo Find the Logic - Will Genetically Engineered Foods Feed the World? Paul Goettlich / Mindfully.org 24oct02

One must seriously question the logic of the agbiotech industry when it emphatically states that GE foods are needed to feed the growing masses. Before the discussion ever gets to the point of GE foods, we should first be asking why are so many hungry when there is so much food?

Journalist Mark Hertsgaard has traveled extensively and written about the causes of hunger in Africa. Please note that none of the reasons he notes have to do with the capacity of world food supply.

“African hunger has various causes, not least of which is the terrible poverty and poor climate that characterizes so much of the continent, not to mention the larceny often practiced by its rulers and the inequitable trade and financial arrangements imposed upon it by the global economy. Every year, the countries of sub-Saharan Africa pay some $12 billion in interest to service their debt to Western financial institutions; this money would more than cover the immediate food, health, education, and family planning needs of the entire continent.

But what often propels these underlying causes of poverty into full-scale famine is war. War not only kills people directly, it reduces the freedom to plant and harvest and disrupts the transportation networks needed to connect food growers and buyers."*

Each year about 80 million new lives are created. More than 90% of them are in developing countries. This rate is expected to decrease to about 30 million per year 2050. At that time, in sub-Saharan Africa, it will account for 50% of the yearly population addition, compared with only 20% presently. The rate of poverty reduction in the developing countries is predicted to be much slower than in those that are industrialized.

Reductions in price trends on world markets indicate a reduction in demand, but only at the global level, not on the local level. Great disparities exist within countries and regions. World market prices do not adequately reflect the problems of the poor and the food insecure.* In other words, an abundance of food does not create a lack of hunger. People still need cash to pay for it. With no work, they have no money for food.

Countries that are net-exporters of food still having hungry populations

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 78 percent of all malnourished children under the age of five live in countries with food surpluses. What’s worse, food that’s exported generally feeds livestock of developed countries, which has a higher profit than feeding children.

India's wheat production in 1999 was 6 million tonnes more than in 1998. And it had surplus of 10 million tonnes. In spite of at least 250 million people going to bed hungry every night, the surplus stocks were exported. In 2000, the numbers of hungry Indians had increased, and yet foodgrain surpluses were at 44 million tonnes of wheat and rice. To make matters worse, a great deal of the surplus is piled on the ground without cover because there are not enough storage facilities. Much of that grain which is unprotected from the elements—sun, rain, mold, fungus, rats, mice, and insects—will not be edible. More than 33% of the world's 800 million hungry people live in India, with a large part of those being children under the age of 5 years old. Hunger at the global level would be greatly reduced by ending hunger in India.*

"In a country, which alone has one-third of the world's 800 million people who go to bed hungry every night, hunger no longer evokes compassion and reaction. News of hunger and starvation no longer adorns the front pages of newspapers. Politicians of all political parties, without exception, talk more about disinvestment and ministry expansion. Policy makers spend more time with industrialists and business houses, and agricultural scientists have little time for the small and marginalised farming communities. The new breed of modern scientists find it below their dignity to soil their feet. They instead prefer the cool confines of the biotechnology labs, howsoever unproductive the end result may be."*

Not in the USA!

Most would agree that the US has the best food supply in the world. Many people might also assume that hunger and malnutrition are not a problem in the US. However, about 10 million US households, or nearly 10%, are food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. Hunger is found in 3.5% of US households. Hunger is defined as the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food.*

“Hunger remains a very real problem in America and that problem has gotten worse over the past four years.” - Robert Forney, President and CEO of America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest hunger-relief charity.

The US Conference of Mayors’ released a study on December 12, 2001 indicating that the average increase in requests for emergency food assistance, in 25 of the 27 cities surveyed, to be 23%. The largest increases were in Santa Monica (50 percent), Phoenix (44 percent), Charlotte (42 percent), Salt Lake City (35 percent), and Portland, Oregon (34 percent). Thirty-three percent of the cities have to turn away people in need because of lack of resources. On average, 14 percent of the requests for emergency food assistance are estimated to have gone unmet during the last year. Fifty-four percent of the people requesting emergency food assistance were members of families — children and their parents. Thirty-seven percent of the adults requesting food assistance were employed.*

During the last ten years, there has been an increase in the number of working women, and preschool children enrolled in daycare, leaving less for food.*

In 2001, San Francisco had 7,305 homeless people, an increase from 5,376 in 2000 of 36%. The data are from a census study by the City of San Francisco, released in October. There was a 55% increase in the number of those living on streets.

George Smith, the director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Homelessness, said:

"The fact that this is happening in all of these cities raises the question, 'Where is the federal government?’”

One explanation of why the feds lack responsiveness is that the Bush administration is diverting billions of dollars to his preoccupation with the “War on Terrorism.”


Where, Oh, Where Did My Food Dollars Go?

In 1910, a dollar spent on food paid $0.45 for marketing, $0.40 for the farmer, and $0.15 for chemical inputs. In 1990, we paid $0.65 for marketing, $0.10 for the farmer, and $0.25 for chemical inputs. Since just 1984, the farmer's share of a food dollar has plummeted by 36%. The rate of return on investments for retail food chains was 18 %; 17% for food manufacturers, and about 2% for farmers. 

In 2001, about 10% of the average grocery bill paid for packaging (mostly paper and plastics) - that's more than goes to the farmers. 


And Where Did All the Farms Go?

The picturesque American family-run farm is disappearing rapidly as large corporations buy them out for pennies on the dollar. Some are incorporated into much larger farms. Others are replaced by urban sprawl, highways, and strip malls. The number of US farms peaked in 1935 at about 7 million. At that time, farms averaged less than 200 acres in size. Today, there are fewer than 2 million farms with an average size of nearly 500 acres. In 1979, Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland undertook a comprehensive study of agriculture in the US. Comparing what exists now with back at the beginning of the 1950’s, it is evident that the warning was not heeded. In the report that came out in 1981, he said,

"[U]nless present policies and programs are changed so that they counter, instead of reinforce or accelerate the trends towards ever-larger farming operations, the result will be a few large farms controlling food production in only a few years."*

A Department of Agriculture report published in 1998, stated the same thing in more ominous terms:

“Looking back now nearly 2 decades later, it is evident that this warning was not heeded, but instead, policy choices made since then perpetuated the structural bias toward greater concentration of assets and wealth in fewer and larger farms and fewer and larger agribusiness firms. Federal farm programs have historically benefited large farms the most. Tax policies give large farmers greater incentives for capital purchases to expand their operations. Large farms that depend on hired farmworkers receive exemptions from Federal labor laws allowing them the advantage of low-wage labor costs.”

“Today, we have 300,000 fewer farmers than in 1979, and farmers are receiving 13 percent less for every consumer dollar. Four firms now control over 80 percent of the beef market. About 94 percent of the Nation's farms are small farms, but they receive only 41 percent of all farm receipts.”

“Like most major industries, the ownership and control over agricultural assets is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Farmers have little to no control over setting the price for their products. The basic tenets of a "competitive" market are less and less evident in crop and livestock markets today."*

The problem with this development is that the large-scale corporate farms that are replacing small family-run farms are less productive and are extremely damaging to the social structure of the local communities. Small farms are healthier for local communities health and economies, and the environment.*

Dr. Walter Goldschmidt, now professor emeritus of UC Berkeley and UCLA, schools of anthropology, studied this issue more than a half century ago. He discovered that where the predominant farms were large-scale, there was a highly negative effect on the towns surrounding that community. The contrary was true in communities with smaller-scale family farms, where the local economies were healthy and vibrant. In general, the signs of a healthy community were present in the communities with small farms, and absent from those with large farms. Where larger farms were found there was greater decay in the surrounding towns with regards to all aspects of life. They have seen a breakdown of the rural way of life; it’s families’ makeup, social attitudes and solidarity, and the towns’ infrastructure. Dependence on technologies to solve problems aided large corporate interests in carving out increasingly larger pieces of the farming income pie. In 1937, farming income was 18% below that of 1929, but International Harvester made record-breaking profits.

“It carries with it the promise of more food for the consumer, cheaper production, more income for agriculture and therefore a better life. Wherever the industrial revolution has touched, it has carried this promise of greater wealth and leisure for humanity. Wherever it has touched it has, ironically, carried with it the threat of estrangement, depersonalization, and impoverishment. It carries now to agriculture and rural society both this promise and this threat. Yet the enrichment can be assured only if the impoverishment is prevented. It is for that reason that the principal of equity takes on particular significance in the formulation of rural policy."*

Today, many small sustainable farming businesses are being bought out when they reach national levels of attention. Horizon Organic, the main producer of organic milk in the US, introduced its first products in 1992. In 1998, Suiza Foods Corporation purchased Horizon. It has more than 35 national and international brands. Suiza also owns about 43% of Consolidated Container Company, which produces a large part of the rigid plastic containers in the US.* Our sights must reach beyond short-term profits to realize long-term benefits of the small sustainable farm.

Few representatives in any branch or level of government truly understand the consequences of our agricultural system being controlled by a few people. If the few noble ideas that exist could be played through, the results would be glorious. The alternative is to ignore what is happening and live with what comes along. By not attempting to understand and then act on that knowledge, we are essentially approving it. But can we allow our freedoms to be stolen from us by those who have nothing but short-term profit as a means of control in mind? The present Bush administration is accelerating this loss of freedoms at unprecedented rates. Please attempt to understand the severity of the situation we are in as explained by the 1998 Department of Agriculture report:

“It is our resolve that small farms will be stronger and will thrive, using farming systems that emphasize the management, skill, and ingenuity of the individual farmer. We envision a competitive advantage for small farms realized through a framework of supportive, yet responsible, government and private initiatives, the application of appropriate research and extension, and the stimulation of new marketing opportunities. As small farms and farmworkers succeed in this nurturing environment, not only will they continue their valuable contribution to the Nation's food supply, but they will also fuel local economies and energize rural communities all across America. In the process of flourishing, small farms will contribute to the strengthening of society, providing communities and the Nation with opportunities for self-employment and ownership of land, and providing a cultural and traditional way of life as well as nurturing places to raise families."*

Corporate Terrorist at Home and Abroad

The Devil's Dictionary (1911), defines the CORPORATION as;

n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Bush’s, ‘War on Terrorism’ is a cover story that obliterates the real intentions of his administration. With regards to popularity and perceived success, his presidential career was in definite need of the good press this war is delivering. While advising all citizens to be united by waving flags and increasing their consumerism, he is also pushing for corporate bailouts that benefit only the high-level executives and shareholders while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of laid-off workers. Enron, PG&E, and the airlines industries are a few examples.

Bush's Corporate Crime SWAT Team

Larry D Thompson FRAUD

Larry D. Thompson, head of the federal task force on corporate fraud and former director of Providian Financial Corp., made a profit of between $1 million and $5 million when he exercised his Providian stock options in July 2001, according to his annual financial disclosure statement released yesterday.

Thompson, who was also chairman of the troubled credit card firm's audit committee until his resignation to become U.S. deputy attorney general in May 2001, exercised his options and sold Providian stock worth nearly $5 million in a series of transactions in early July last year, according to the disclosure statement. His total profit from the transactions remained uncertain, however, because Thompson is not required to disclose exactly how much his gain was, but only a range. 

PG&E’s “Public Relations Problem”

Since the corporate leaders of PG&E knowingly destroyed their corporation, rates have increased 62% for its California customers. This is the highest increase in the state’s history. Customers will lose more than $3.9 billion through 2010. Many thousands of consumers, including PG&E workers who lost jobs in the mismanagement debacle, are now choosing between electricity and other essentials such as food.

On the opposite end of the scale, the top-level executives that caused the financial collapse were given $50 million in bonuses. Six senior officers, including the chairman, and seventeen other executives, received a bonus equaling 100% of their base salary. Seventy-seven directors and attorneys got up to 75% of their base salary. Another 126 managers and attorneys got up to 50%. This boosted the pay of chairman Robert Glynn close to $2 million for the year. Not only were these bonuses immoral, they should have been illegal. A company is ruined, its employees and customers made to suffer, and the executives that are the cause get million-dollar bonuses!

Two weeks later, they asked for $17.5 million more. A PG&E spokesman said that the utility is prepared to shrug off the public relations hit inevitable with any such request. With all the compassion and logic so typical of the corporate world, the fact that thousands of families were left without a source of income is perceived as a “public relations problem.”

Enron’s “Public Relations Problem”

Enron and VP Cheney played the lead role in bilking consumers and investors out of billions of dollars. Enron's Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay’s scam was made much easier by major roles played by Gov. Gray Davis, and V.P. Dick Cheney. Power that normally sold for $40 increased in price up to $3,880. The effect of this on already hungry people of California is not difficult to comprehend.

Recently released documents stated that VP Dick Cheney met directly with Enron's Mr. Kenneth Lay, "during which [they] discussed 'energy policy matters' including 'the energy crisis in California." The day after meeting with Lay, Cheney told the LA Times that the administration would not support price caps. And a month later the vice president's energy task force recommended an expansion of oil and gas drilling on public land and ramping up nuclear power. “[The meetings ended] just six days before Enron announced the $1.2 billion in reduction in shareholder equity."

Mr. Lay’s total compensation for 2000 was $11,957,642, plus $484,977,092 in options, totaling $496,934,734.[i] In other words, Mr Lay made more than $1.3 million per day. According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income in the United States was a little over $42,000 in 2000. He made enough on a daily basis to support more than 11.8 million median income families, or 47.2 million individuals. In 2000, there were nearly 276 million people living below the official poverty threshold.[ii] An example of the poverty threshold as defined by the US Census Bureau is a family of four earning less than $17,524.[iii] At that level, Mr. Lay would be able to support 28.3 million families, or 113.2 million individuals.

  1. Wall Street Journal website data 31dec01

  2. US Census Bureau website 31dec01

  3. Ibid.

The only way that GMO sweet potatoes would be of aid to those who have been most affected by this gross mismanagement—better defined as fraud—is if they were provided gratis. Through rate and tax increases, the people most affected, and least able to afford it, are the ones who pay the most for the actions of these corporate thugs. The movement of billions of dollars in the US certainly can be felt on a global scale.

The 6.2 million people (837,200 in CA) recorded as being unemployed in the 2nd quarter of 2001 had an average length of unemployment of 13.2 months. The Department of Labor does not record data on those who are not eligible or have exhausted their benefits.* For these people, whether or not represented in the Department of Labor data, more food on the shelves is not going to give them more on their dinner tables. Insufficient funds are the cause of their food insecurity, not a lack of food for sale.

It is difficult to imagine a GMO sweet potato having a positive effect on the lives of the thousands affected by the intentional abuse of trust by Enron, PG&E, or any other major corporations, unless provided gratis to all who needed such aid. Similarly, it is difficult to imagine is that a GMO sweet potato would be of use to the poor starving populations of a Least Developed Nation (LDN). If made available for free, their lives would merely be sustained, rather than improved. There is a big difference between having enough to survive and living a fruitful happy life.

Airlines

After September 11th, 100,000 workers airlines laid off “in an attempt to control costs.” And while these thousands of workers pondered how they would purchase food and pay their rent or mortgage, high-level executives continued being inundated with money.[a] According to the Wall Street Journal online database of corporate finances[b], Delta Airlines performed the worst of all US airlines during the 3rd quarter of 2001, losing $259 million. Using the same online source, Delta’s Chairman/CEO Leo F. Mullin’s compensation was $859,516, with $6,156,950 in options, totaling more than $7 million in 2000. Its Executive VP/CFO M. Michele Burns’ compensation was $457,784, with $221,900 in options, totaling $679,684. In general, the workers are seen as one of the major problems these executives must control. One corporate manager commented that replacing the CEO would be difficult without offering millions in compensation. My response to that is I could find several people in the 100,000 laid off workers who would be better qualified and work for significantly lease money.

  1. Airlines' Awful Year. San Francisco Chronicle 26dec01
  2. Wall Street Journal.

The “War on Drugs”

The average yearly cost per inmate in California in 2001 was $25,607. For about $500 more, that inmate could pay the cost of tuition and fees at Yale University.[i] In the US, there were 158,759 inmates, 24,278 of which are in for life, maintained by a staff of 47,916 on a budget of $4.8 billion for the fiscal year 2000-2001. Nearly 71% are nonwhite and 28% related to drugs.[ii] Sentence lengths are increasing. Between 1993 and 2001, the average sentence length has grown by 20 percent, from 47.9 months to the current 54.6 months.[iii] Since 1984, California has built a whopping 21 prisons but only one university.[iv]

  1. College Board website 26dec01
    http://apps.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail6.jsp?buttonPressed=&collegeId=1846&detailPageId=0&collegeName=Yale+University

  2. California Department of Corrections Fourth Quarter 2001 Report. (23dec01) http://www.cdc.state.ca.us/factsht.htm

  3. Thompson, D. California sends fewer inmates to prison, but for longer sentences. AP 26oct01
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2001/10/26/state1927EDT0105.DTL

  4. Suro, R. More Is Spent Building Prisons than Universities, Survey Shows. Washington Post 24feb97
    http://btp.tao.ca/news/news7.html 

As a national total in the US, imprisonment now costs $46 billion annually. Most of this is related to drug offenses. There are many options to remedy this situation. One is to educate the inmates at Yale. Another, more reasonable solution is to first put all addicts through an intensive drug treatment program. The RAND corporation found that dollar spent on treatment instead of imprisonment saves $7 in state costs. Therefore, spending $6.6 billion on treatment rather than incarceration leaves $39.4 billion to better the lives of the poor. This could be accomplished through education, meaningful employment, healthcare, childcare, family planning, and much more.

Telecommunications

These days, Vincent Galluccio spends most afternoons at the wheel of a tractor, overseeing his $5.2 million Long Island vineyard, Galluccio Family Winery. Mr. Galluccio, 57 years old, was a top European executive of Metromedia Fiber Networks Inc., a high-flying White Plains, N.Y., telecom-network builder. As Metromedia's value soared to its peak of $31 billion, Mr. Galluccio began selling small amounts of shares. Leaving the company in 2000, he liquidated all of his holdings, for a total of about $27 million. He used the proceeds to buy the 160-acre winery known for its Chardonnays. Metromedia has since landed in less idyllic territory: In May, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the [SEC] is examining the accounting practices the company used after Mr. Galluccio's departure. Mr. Galluccio is unapologetic about his haul. How will MFN's finances effect its more than 1,700 employees? And what about the more than half million shares of stock that people purchased?*  

The “War on Drugs” in Colombia

The U.S. has funded herbicide spraying as a means to eliminate illegal drugs in Colombia for years. Beginning in 2001, herbicides containing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, were used kill opium poppy and coca plants. Many human rights workers have reported that the use of this herbicide is not limited to the elimination of drugs.

Plan Colombia, which has gotten $1.3 billion in US aid to date, was supposed to be an concentrated development program to end the violence that has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the last 10 years and left some 1.2 million people displaced. Of the U.S. aid to Colombia, 70 percent is earmarked for military equipment and training to counter the drug trade — mostly for helicopters and training for Colombia’s counter-narcotics troops.

Critics, though, say that spraying with herbicides has in fact thwarted the very development it aims to boost. Further, some critics in Colombia, including some Catholic bishops, see the plan as a U.S. attempt to consolidate its political, economic, and military power in the area. Catholic Bishop Gonzalo López of Sucumbíos, the Ecuadorian province that borders Putumayo, where the bulk of Colombia’s coca cultivation is done believes that the aim of the US has nothing to do with aiding the country or eradicating drugs.

“They want to steamroll over Putumayo, to wipe everything out, then they’ll come with their oil-drilling rigs, pipelines and highways and, despite the hunger and poverty, say they’re rebuilding civilization. If they say 3 percent is for human rights and legal reform and no more than 10 percent is for development of the region, and that the rest goes for helicopters, soldiers, military advisers and spraying of coca crops, they’re not talking about a peace plan or a development plan.”[45]

The herbicide Roundup has been shown to inhibit the creation of steroids in humans.[i] It is interesting to note that Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, did not release the complete list of its ingredients. Being proprietary, they were protected by law from releasing this information to the researchers studying its health effects. Roundup has also been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a form of cancer.[ii] Both the incidence and mortality rates of NHL have increased between the years 1973 and 1997 by more than 80%, and 45% respectively.[iii]

  1. [46] Walsh, LP., McCormick, C., Martin, C., Stoccol, DM. Roundup Inhibits Steroidogenesis by Disrupting StAR Expression. Environmental Health Perspectives v.108, n.8 Aug00 http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Roundup-Inhibits-Steroidogenesis.htm

  2. Hardell, L., Eriksson, M. A case-control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and exposure to pesticides. Cancer v.85, i.6 12mar99. http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Non-Hodgkin-Lymphoma-Pesticides.htm

  3. Ries, L., et al. (eds.) SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1997. National Cancer Institute. NIH Pub. No. 00-2789. Bethesda, MD.

When a consumer in the US knowingly chooses to use a product that causes cancer, it is a personal choice. However foolish, it is a personal choice. But when the US flies over Colombia, pouring Roundup on unsuspecting peasants in wholesale quantities using air tankers, that is terrorism. In the first two months of this year, local authorities reported 4,289 humans suffering skin or gastric disorders, while 178,377 creatures, including cattle, horses, pigs, dogs, ducks, hens and fish, were killed by the spraying. Chemical additives, including the untested surfactant Cosmo-flux, are being mixed into the Roundup in Colombia to improve its efficacy.[49]

In a recent interview with CBS 60 Minutes, Massachusetts Congressional Representative Jim McGovern said that spraying Roundup on coca in Colombia doesn’t work and it is a health hazard to thousands of innocent people. He witnessed people with rashes caused by the herbicide. Rashes are common and fevers, diarrhea, and allergies were up 100 percent. More than 2000 families have complained of sicknesses. Sounding much like a subsidiary of Monsanto, the US State Department says that Roundup is as safe as shampoo. How can the State Department go on record as saying this when readily available governmental information states exactly the opposite? It is being sprayed indiscriminately in concentrations 26 times above the recommended strength along with Cosmo-Flux, which quadruples the biological action of Roundup.

"[The herbicide] is powerful stuff and I think it’s ridiculous to say that we shouldn’t worry about the health impacts…Nobody really can tell me…what the health effects of this spray might be." - Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Since the subject at hand is hunger, it should be noted that by dousing the Colombian countryside with Roundup, the US government is destroying the possibility of self-sufficiency for many thousands of peasants that have already endured 40 years of guerrillas and paramilitaries.

Go Global

The image of globalization through the eye of mainstream media is one of a planet encircled by people joined hand-in-hand, singing, “We are the world.” This is simply high-priced corporate advertising bending the minds of people through the popular media. When the curtain is parted, one finds that the wizard is actually a daemon.

Dan Rather’s audience has difficulty understanding what dancing around in the streets of Seattle with puppets has to do with the WTO and globalization, and why these motley lawbreakers dislike the WTO. Dan would have us all line up behind George Bush and do whatever he commands. CBS news is but one part in the deception of Americans by the corporate elite.

Just as they buy police protection, the planners and directors of this grand coup are also willing to spend millions of dollars on products to protect themselves. A recent auto show in Los Angeles featured armored Cadillac DeVilles weighing 3 tons and costing up to $154,000 dollars. In an Associated Press interview, a Cadillac representative said, "If you are going to go global you need to address armoring.” If their brand of globalization is so benevolent, and the citizens of developing nations welcome them with open arms, why then do they need to armor their inefficient and ostentatious cars?[52] Are there implications for the corporate leaders of globalization beyond merely being an added cost of doing business? One would hope they might also think about the safety of loved ones that may not be so well isolated from reality. Better yet, they might ask what it is that makes them a target for so much anger that they need armored cars, personal bodyguards, and electronic security devices.

The plain fact is that the globalization of the World Bank, WTO, GATT, and NAFTA is not about bringing the world together by making it a better place for all to live. It is also not about making sure that everyone has enough food. And it is not about love, understanding, or equality. Its dominant paradigm is control of the masses by a select few. The reality of globalization is the wealthy living on the backs of the poor, exploiting them regardless of race, religion, or color. So, to some degree, in an intensely perverted way, globalization is nondiscriminatory.

In a 1991 internal World Bank memo, their chief economist, Lawrence Summers, wrote:

“Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [less developed countries]?... The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable, and we should face up to that .... Under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted; their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City .... The concern over an agent that causes a one-in-a-million change in the odds of prostate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country where under-five mortality is 200 per thousand."*

During 1997 to 2000, Joseph Stiglitz was the chief economist and vice president of the World Bank, and is now a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He served on the president's Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1997. He resigned from his position with the World Bank to freely voice his opinions of globalization. With his new-found freedom, he stated that the IMF is arrogant, deaf, secretive and lacks unaccountability, and that economic conditions are often made much worse after they “help” a country “—turning slowdowns into recessions and recessions into depressions.”

“It's not fair to say that IMF economists don't care about the citizens of developing nations. But the older men who staff the fund—and they are overwhelmingly older men—act as if they are shouldering Rudyard Kipling's white man's burden. IMF experts believe they are brighter, more educated, and less politically motivated than the economists in the countries they visit. In fact, the economic leaders from those countries are pretty good—in many cases brighter or better-educated than the IMF staff, which frequently consists of third-rank students from first-rate universities. (Trust me: I've taught at Oxford University, MIT, Stanford University, Yale University, and Princeton University, and the IMF almost never succeeded in recruiting any of the best students.)”

“I was often asked how smart—even brilliant—people could have created such bad policies. One reason is that these smart people were not using smart economics. Time and again, I was dismayed at how out-of-date—and how out-of-tune with reality—the models Washington economists employed were. “

“Open discussion would have raised profound questions that still receive very little attention in the American press: To what extent did the IMF and the Treasury Department push policies that actually contributed to the increased global economic volatility? (Treasury pushed liberalization in Korea in 1993 over the opposition of the Council of Economic Advisers. Treasury won the internal White House battle, but Korea, and the world, paid a high price.) Were some of the IMF's harsh criticisms of East Asia intended to detract attention from the agency's own culpability? Most importantly, did America—and the IMF—push policies because we, or they, believed the policies would help East Asia or because we believed they would benefit financial interests in the United States and the advanced industrial world? And, if we believed our policies were helping East Asia, where was the evidence? As a participant in these debates, I got to see the evidence. There was none.”

In conclusion, globalization is being sold as being good for the world economy. The recipients of the benefits of globalization are the rich. Greed is the driving force behind globalization, and nothing good can come from it. It overrides everything that is good so that the few may profit from the labor of the many.

Patents as Master

The patent is the chosen weapon of the new world order. Through patents, the entire world’s food will be controlled by a handful of powerful multinational corporations. With patents in hand at the court of the WTO, they are able to deny peasants the right to live as they have for many thousand of years. Corporate bioprospectors scour foreign countries for useful genetic material. They search remote jungles, rain forests, and even rice paddies. One key to the value of what they “discover” is that the more people use or need that gene, the greater the value. In the eyes of the corporations, value is what the market will allow. And in turn, that depends on what the variables or controls are. When the control is absolute, the profits can be absolute. Therefore, the protection patents offer to corporations is exceedingly valuable. This is especially true when US patents are backed up on the global level, as by the WTO.

Many products have been designed to protect the patents of the corporations. Monsanto produces Roundup, a herbicide and crops that are genetically modified to withstand it. The farmer must sign a “technology agreement” in order to purchase these products. The Monsanto Technology Agreement covers Roundup Ready™ cotton, Bollgard™ cotton, Bollgard™ with Roundup Ready™ cotton, Roundup Ready™ soybeans, YieldGard™ corn and Roundup Ready™ corn.[55] In this agreement farmers must sign away rights to legal recourse should Monsanto Crops fail to perform, which happens quite frequently.

The future of these gene giants is highly questionable. Many protections are required for them to exist; patents, the WTO, and most of all, consumers’ ignorance of the facts by way of control of the government and popular media. Their corporate lies must be hidden from view; otherwise people would see them for the demons they are.

According to Monsanto's corporate mission statement, they claim to conduct [themselves] with integrity based on: courage, respect, candor, honesty, humility, consistency, and keeping [their] promises. They are especially efficient at one part of that statement, consistency. They consistently lie, cheat, bribe, conceal data, and bully without reservation. The record shows overwhelmingly that they will do anything to profit, no matter who or what is at stake.

In the last century, when foreign occupiers forced starving peasants of Bengal and Bihar to raise indigo, the peasants rose up in a series of "indigo revolts." Earlier in this century, two million people died of starvation in India while white rice was being exported by the British. In the subsequent Tebhaga uprising, the peasants declared, "We will give our life before giving our grains." Today, Indian peasants find their rights to their grains once more threatened by foreign powers, and once more, Indian society must resolutely defend their rights to utilize and grow what they choose.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is an outspoken Indian critic of the patenting of life. She founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology was founded in Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India in 1982. The foundation works “towards increasing awareness to the importance of conserving our valuable genetic heritage, while challenging and opposing the forces responsible for its rapid erosion and usurpation.” Dr. Shiva was trained as a physicist and has authored many books on the subject of food security, globalization and genetic engineering. She sees patents for what they are; a method of controlling peoples’ food sources.

“People have survived in the third world because in spite of the wealth that has been taken from them, in spite of their gold and their land having been taken from them, they still have biodiversity. They still have that last resource in the form of seed, medicinal plants, fodder, which allowed them access to production It allowed them to meet their needs of health and nutrition. Now this last resource of the poor, who had been left deprived by the last round of colonialization is also being taken over through patenting. And seeds which peasants have freely saved, exchanged, used, are being treated as the property of corporations. New legal property formations are being shaped as intellectual property rights treaties, through the World Trade Organization, trying to prevent peasants of the third world from having free access to their own seed, to have free exchange of their own seed. So that all peasants, all farmers around the world would be buying seed every year thus creating a new market for the global seed industry.”[i]

In India, agriculture provides livelihoods for more people than any other sector. It also has been the cutting edge of global corporate penetration of the Indian economy. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) has been one of the main instruments of monopoly penetration. Specifically, the intellectual property rights regimes being put into place through GATT set the stage for foreign corporations to gain a total monopoly control of our food production by displacing traditional seed varieties with patented hybrids.[ii]

In these economics of genocide, largely white, male elites of the North create class, race, and gender boundaries to exclude other social groups from the fundamental human rights to life and safety. This blatant disregard for the rights of Third World people was reinforced in 1996, when the European Union lifted its ban on the export of possibly BSE-infected U.K. beef and bovine products for Third World countries.[iii]

  1. Paget-Clarke, N. Interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva. In Motion Magazine 14aug98 http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Shiva-Interview-InMotion14aug98.htm 

  2. People-Centered Development Forum. Profile of Vandana Shiva. PCDForum Paradigm Warrior Profile #3 Release date June 1, 1996. http://iisd1.iisd.ca/pcdf/1996/shiva.htm 

  3. Shiva, V. Stolen Harvest: The Highjacking of the Global Food Supply. South End Press. Cambridge, Mass. 2000

The World Bank reported recently that the events of Sept. 11th would cause an additional 20,000 - 40,000 children under five years old to die from the economic consequences of the September 11 attack as poverty worsens.

"Outside of the US and OECD countries, the ripples from the September 11 attacks will be felt across all of the world's regions, particularly in countries dependent on tourism, remittances from populations living overseas, and foreign investment.

The worst hit area will be Africa, where in addition to the possible increases in poverty of 2-3 million people as a result of lower growth and incomes, a further 2 million people may be condemned to living below $1 a day due to the effects of falling commodity prices. Commodity prices were forecast to fall 7.4 percent on average this year, and are likely to fall even more as a result of the events of September 11. Farmers, rural labourers, and others tied to agriculture will bear a major portion of the burden. Travel and tourism represent almost 10 percent of merchandise exports for the region and are also likely to be disrupted. The 300 million poor in Sub-Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable because most countries have little or no safety nets, and poor households have minimal savings to cushion bad times. About half the additional child deaths worldwide are likely to be in Africa."

The Tanzanian ambassador to the WTO, speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDC), criticized the preamble of the draft declaration drawn up in anticipation of the planned Doha ministerial meeting of the WTO.

[It does not recognize] "the points made by LDCs and other developing countries on the downside in the operations and implementation of the system, such as the imbalances in the rules, the inequitable distribution of benefits and losses, the lack of tangible benefits to poorer countries, the massive losses to poor countries and poor people from the continuous decline in commodity prices and terms of trade, or the threats to livelihood and jobs when small firms and small farmers are unable to cope with the flood of cheap imports. In short, the marginalisation of LDCs and some other developing countries should be mentioned so that there is recognition of these problems by Ministers with the view to resolving them."

Afghanistan

Afghanistan owes $38 million debt to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. According to Oxfam, a nonprofit relief organization, because of a third year of drought, the harvest of Afghanistan was half the normal harvest, and much lower in some regions. Before the start of Bush's "war on terrorism," 20% of the population, or 5.5 million people were at risk of starvation. The drought has "increased the deep, underlying poverty, resulting in an annual life expectancy of only 44 years. Some 75 per cent of Afghans do not have safe water, 90 per cent do not have adequate sanitation, and more than 75 per cent do not have access even to the most basic health care. As a result, 25 per cent of children die before the age of five."

Whether or not one supports Bush’s “War on Terrorism,” it is, without question, an additional cause of extreme hunger for millions of people in Afghanistan who were already extremely miserable. According to Adrienne Smith of the World Food Programme (WFP), estimates of the numbers of Afghans requiring food aid are at 7.5 million, including 1.5 million refugees. The WFP is the United Nations frontline agency mandated to combat global hunger that afflicts one out of every seven people on earth. WFP believes that there is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for healthy and productive lives. In 2000, WFP operations reached some 83 million people in 83 countries. WFP works with more than 1,000 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to distribute its food aid. Typical food rations - in situations where no other food is available - call for more than half a kilo of food per person per day (or 2,100 kilocalories). This amounts to 15 kilos in food rations for one month, or 182.5 kilos for a year. The rations possibly consist of wheat, maize, sorghum, rice, beans, peas, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, cereal-blended foods, high-energy biscuits, and bread.

  • Personal conversation with Adrienne Smith, press relations at the World Food Project, and from information at website (10dec01). http://www.wfp.org

On September 16, 2001, the New York Times reported that the US demanded that Pakistan eliminate the food convoys entering Afghanistan from their country.*  Fortunately this demand went unnoticed by most of the press, and there was no mention of it or response from anyone, anywhere. If there had been compliance with this demand, it would have meant certain death by starvation for possibly 3-4 millions of Afghans. The US made this demand with complete knowledge of the consequences. Like other actions the US has a long history of, this would have been a silent massacre by starvation of many millions of people over the period of a few weeks, most of whom are only guilty of being alive and in Afghanistan.**

President Richard Nixon’s “war on terrorism” was loosed on Nicaragua with frightening results. Unprecedented in history, his representatives recruited and commanded one of the largest terrorist networks in the world. His thugs raped, tortured, and slaughtered tens of thousands of people. They destroyed Nicaragua’s farms, businesses, infrastructure, society, and economy. To this day, it has not been restored. The country of Nicaragua took this case of international terrorism to the World Court. They had no trouble at all putting the evidence together, and the court accepted their case. The court condemned the unlawful use of force (terrorism). It ordered the US to terminate the crime and to pay massive reparations. The US dismissed the court judgement with total contempt, and stated that the US would not accept the jurisdiction of the court henceforth. Nicaragua then went to the UN Security Council, proposing a resolution calling on all states to observe international law, which was aimed specifically at the US’s terrorism. The US vetoed the resolution. The US is now the only country on record of being condemned by the World Court and having vetoed a resolution for all nations to observe international law.

  • Chomsky, N. The New War on Terrorism. (see above)

These examples illustrate that war, terrorism, and global financial enslavement play a large role in hunger. The US has played a major role in causing hunger, starting with the death of millions of Native Americans after forcefully ejecting them from the land they live on for centuries. And the legacy of cruelty lives on today, as we bomb millions of innocent Afghan civilians.

Somalia

  Somalia is on the eastern border of Dr. Wambugu’s country, Kenya. In mid-December, the FAO reported that this year's harvest was the worst in the last seven years because of late and erratic rainfall. About 800,000 people were having problems finding enough food. 300,000 people, mainly in the southern regions, were in danger of starvation.

  • Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). Somalia: Food situation deteriorating rapidly. Web report 18dec01

After the attack on the World Trade Center, the US froze the assets of Al-Barakaat, the main banking and telecommunications system in the region. This, in effect, has cut off financial aid to many Somali families who rely on money from relatives abroad. The US has led proposals for military intervention in Somalia.

According to Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), a branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Somalia “is on the verge of an economic collapse ‘unparalleled in modern history’. It is standing on the threshold of ruin. The Somali people don’t understand why the US do this. They have been enduring the effects of two years of drought, and a ban on livestock sales to Arab states because of the cattle disease, Rift Valley fever.

ActionAid, one of the UK’s largest development agencies, works in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, listening to, learning from and working in partnership with over six million of the world’s poorest people. In a recent press release, Robin Le Mare, ActionAid's policy officer for Somalia stated that:

"Targeting Somalia because it is alleged that some unnamed individuals may support al-Qaida [terrorist network] is not going to resolve the wider issue of terrorism," said. "The US 1992 'Operation Restore Hope' effectively strengthened the positions of warlords in southern Somalia and further entrenched the clan-based system of self-governing territories. That action was a fiasco and this is no time to attempt anything similar." He also said that such actions would only strengthen the position of those in Somalia "who claim legitimacy through military might."

More than Food

“According to an ancient Indian Upanishad

Whether the subject is sweet potatoes, corn, soybeans, or rice, much more is involved than merely something that we stuff our faces with, like so much junk food of America. To many, it may be just that. But its significance is far greater than the four letters convey. To Indians rice is the “breath of life.” In fact, the word for rice, gift and wealth is the same. The Japanese equate it with the self. Native Americans believe that their folk crop varieties are sacred gifts of the Creator.

In areas where conversion from subsistence to a cash agricultural economy progressively occurred, a number of ecological and social problems became evident: loss of food self-sufficiency, genetic erosion, loss of biodiversity and traditional farming knowledge, and permanence of rural poverty.

In the past, whole families and villages joined forces during the harvest in order to accomplish the common goal of storing enough food for the winter. After the work was done, great gatherings of workers would eat, trade stories, and play music. In this way, the community’s communication and vitality were increased.

Green revolution farming, grows one variety of a crop as far as the eye can see, allowing massive machinery to sweep large areas. This machine requires only one person’s labor. Those lone drivers blaze across hundreds of acres a day, cocooned in an air-conditioned cab. The lack of diversity doesn’t end with the crops. They listen to endless streams of computer-programmed and played music that corporations decide should be played. And when the work is done, there is no reward of one’s neighbor’s company.

Seed Saving

Saving, sharing and trading seed is a tradition around the globe that has been practiced for thousands of years. It increases the social interaction that binds communities together and benefits all. It increases biodiversity by transporting seed long distances. Immigrants entering the US bring seed from their homeland as a remembrance and a first crop. Even the Internet hosts many seed saving groups.

Today, seed saving is vital because corporations such as Monsanto are destroying the world’s biodiversity. If they had their way, there would be only one of each variety of crops in order to maximize profits—one seed, packaged in one container, advertised in one way.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity can be thought of as a bank of genetic material. By having lots of money in the bank, one worries less about times of need, such as sickness or unemployment. Biodiversity works the same way. When the stores of genetic code are high, plants and animals are better able to deal with adverse conditions—disease, drought or flooding, too much or too little heat. The greater the number of crop varieties, the greater the chances of survival of that species.

Genetic engineering is but an extension of the green revolution, in that it is reducing the diversity of genetic code available for the future. The biggest reason for the mad scramble on the part of many groups to save seed is that once the code is lost, it cannot be regained.

Only 100 years ago, there were about 1,500 different plants, and thousands of varieties of those plants. Because of the industrialization of farming during the so-called green revolution, fewer than 20 different plants provide most of the world’s nutrition. Wheat, rice, and corn account for about 60% of the calories and 56% of the protein that humans consume from plants.

The loss of genetic diversity caused by today’s high yielding monocultured industrial farming can greatly heighten adverse environmental effects, thereby erasing massive amounts of potential profits. Without a robust environment, humans cannot survive.

In 1970, for instance, the U.S. corn crop suffered a 15 percent reduction in yield and losses worth roughly $1 billion when a leaf fungus (Helminthosporim maydis) spread rapidly through the genetically uniform crop. Similarly, the Irish potato famine in 1846, the loss of a large portion of the Soviet wheat crop to cold weather in 1972, and the citrus canker outbreak in Florida in 1984 all stemmed from reductions in genetic diversity.

In the 1994-1995 marketing year, the US market share of corn exports stood at 82%. As a result of the introduction of GMO corn in the US, the market share of world export of US corn has dropped to zero. Each year saw a steady decline from 82% in 1995, to 53%, 71%, 10%, 7%, 5%, 1%, 2%, 1%, and finally to 0% in the 2003-2004 year.(i) And as it looks now, the only way the US can get rid of the stuff is to force it on developing nations with the hope that they will not find out about the problems they will encounter as a result of accepting US corn food aid from USAID. In a typical assertion of power, USAID cut off all food aid shipments to Sudan, stating that "[A]s of March 7, 2004, USAID has ceased all further food aid shipments to Port Sudan due to the GOS' insistence that US commodities be certified free of genetically modified organisms ("GMO")." (ii) Starvation is common in Sudan, but they prefer to starve than to take the genetically mutated corn food aid from the USA. 

  1. Schubert, R. The Loss of Corn Exports to Europe: Something to chew on at the Commodity Classic - CropChoice 5mar04

  2. Winter, R. USAID Has Ceased All Further Food Aid Shipments to Port Sudan Due Insistence that it be on free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) -  United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 11mar04

The genetic engineering of agbiotech hasn’t stopped at the garden. There are also GMO trees being developed.

It is said that Mexico is the keeper of the genetic diversity of corn.

proliferating GMO varieties throughout the world without the benefit of preliminary long-term testing

Through so-called terminator technology, seeds are produced that grow crops without the ability to further reproduce. It would destroy this tradition, which is well documented in stories, music, art, and dances, and handed down through many thousands of generations. Terminator technology is a method of control that would be used to force the world’s farmers to purchase their seeds, and chemicals from one source.

Changes in dietary preferences come with increased affluence.

With a trend towards greater meat consumption, even in places where it is shunned, world meat production has more than doubled between 1950 and 1997, from 37.5 to 79.4 pounds per person. One-third of the world’s grain production is presently fed to livestock. And much that livestock is served to customers of the golden arches and the likes. The trend toward greater meat consumption is continuing and grazing lands are becoming scarcer as meat production increases and humans sprawl across the world. As this all happens, larger quantities of grains will need to be diverted from human consumption to livestock. This puts more pressure on the poor, who are unable to compete with the livestock that is going to feed more affluent populations.

Diets in the US have an impact on the rest of the world.

Over half of the water used in the United States goes to beef production. “The water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.”[71] It takes less water to produce a year’s food for a pure vegetarian than to produce a month’s food for a meat-eater.[72] This enormous use of water is not sustainable. It is also a hidden cost of producing meat that the taxpayers are force to pay for through taxes. One pound of red meat takes an average of 2,500 gallons, as much as it takes a farmer to grow up to one hundred pounds of grain. That one pound of beef will feed four people for one lunch, but one hundred pounds of grain can feed four people for a month.

“Rainforest beef is typically found in fast food hamburgers or processed beef products. In both 1993 and 1994 the U. S. imported over 200 million pounds of fresh and frozen beef from Central American countries. Two-thirds of these countries' rainforests have been cleared, in part to raise cattle whose meat is exported to profit the U. S. food industry. When it enters the U. S. the beef is not labeled with its country of origin, so there is no way to trace it to its source.”[73]

The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste - or five tons for every US citizen.[74] North Carolina's 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as much waste - stored in reeking, open cesspools - as the state's 6.5 million people.[75] According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

Corporate Benevolence

The benevolence of agbiotech corporations to feed the world’s masses is a sham. Its professed mission of feeding the world’s starving masses is in stark contrast to the reality of its investments. Most of the billions of dollars being invested are for products catering to capital-intensive, large-scale farmers of developed countries of the US and EU. The few products with relevance to poor, subsistence farmers actually divert attention from hunger’s underlying causes and other alternative interventions that would prove more appropriate, and safer.

Rice, called “Golden Rice,” a genetically modified rice that was to marketed as the cure for blindness in millions of children. The Rockefeller Foundation funded the project. As justification for such technology, the industry marketed it as being able to save the sight of 500,000 children a year. The perceived problem was a vitamin A deficiency in the rice diet of children in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Industry’s solution was to genetically modify rice to contain beta-carotene, which then is converted to vitamin A in the body. The beta-carotene turns it yellow, consequently it is named golden rice.

Dr. Vandana Shiva insisted that this GMO rice is a distraction from well-known and proven methods of providing sufficient vitamin-A in diets. Before the green revolution was introduced to India, these plants were much more abundant. She explained that it was the technology that had created the problem of vitamin-A deficiency in the first place.

“Genetically engineered rice as part of the second Green Revolution is repeating the mistakes of the Green Revolution while adding new hazards in terms of ecological and health risks.

The "selling" of Vitamin A rice as a miracle cure for blindness is based on blindness to alternatives for removing vitamin A deficiency and blindness to the unknown risks of producing Vitamin A through genetic engineering.

The lower cost, accessible and safer alternative to genetically engineered rice is to increase biodiversity in agriculture. Further, since those who suffer from vitamin A deficiency suffer from malnutrition generally, increasing the food security and nutritional security of the poor through increasing the diversity of crops and diversity of diets of poor people who suffer the highest rates of deficiency is the reliable means for overcoming nutritional deficiencies.

Sources of Vitamin A in the form of green leafy vegetables are being destroyed by the Green Revolution and Genetic Engineering, which promote the use of herbicides in agriculture. The spread of herbicide resistant crops will further aggravate this biodiversity erosion with major consequences for increase in nutritional deficiency. For example, bathua a very popular leafy vegetable in North India has been pushed to extinction in Green Revolution areas where intensive herbicide use is a part of the chemical package.”[76]

Many human rights and environmental watchdog organizations denounced the rice as a hoax. A Greenpeace study revealed that it wasn’t humanly possible to eat enough of the wonder rice:

“[A]n adult would have to eat at least 3.7 kilos [8.2 pounds] of dry weight rice, i.e. around 9 kilos [nearly 20 pounds] of cooked rice, to satisfy his/her daily need of vitamin A from "Golden Rice". In other words, a normal daily intake of 300 gram of rice would, at best, provide 8% percent of the vitamin A needed daily. A breast-feeding woman would have to eat at least 6.3 kilos [13.9 pounds] in dry weight, converting to nearly 18 kilos [39.7 pounds] of cooked rice per day.”[77]

In February of 2001, after the Greenpeace study and months of industry claims that a single month of marketing delays would cause 50,000 children to go blind, the Rockefeller Foundation, which funded it’s development, made the unexpected statement that "the [agbiotech industry’s] public relations uses of Golden Rice have gone too far.” It continued to say that claims by the biotech industry and some US politicians that genetically engineered "golden rice" would save the sight of 500,000 children a year are exaggerated.[78] Even the inventor of the so-called ‘golden rice’, Ingo Potrykus, responded by saying that he “acknowledge[d], that Greenpeace [was] arguing on a rational basis.”[79]

Gifts of Agbiotech Industry Shunned

The Case of rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone)

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a genetically engineered growth hormone injected into cows. Monsanto produces it under the name Prosilac. The purpose of rBGH is to increase milk production. It is used mostly in extremely large and inhumane factory farms, where cows rarely see the light of day and calves are not allowed to suckle. The growth hormone is administered by injection.

It causes an increased rate of udder infections, known as mastitis. To fight mastitis, enormous quantities of antibiotics must be used. Residues of the antibiotics and puss from the mastitis are found in the milk of rBGH-treated cows. Studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer from other residues in milk from treated cows.[80], [81] Most milk produced in the USA is produced on a large scale within this environment; one of cruelty, confinement, sickness and death. It is the norm of factory farming and agribusiness, in general.

After researchers revealed that Monsanto submitted false data with their application for approval to market rBGH in Canada, it was banned. The Canadian Broadcasting Company reported that Monsanto had attempted bribing Health Canada to have them approve the growth hormone. In spite of an attempt by Monsanto lawyers to kill a story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, they reported that Monsanto attempted to bribe Health Canada with a significant amount of money in order that rBGH be approved without a need for subsequent safety data. [82]

For three years Monsanto blocked attempts by British researchers to publish important findings regarding increased mastitis in cows. Monsanto also threatened to sue the Chicago Board of Education unless it reversed its decision to pursue rBGH-free milk and dairy products for participants in the school lunch program.[83] They sued two milk processors that labeled milk as free of the hormone. [84]

Ever since the mid-1950s, US milk production has outpaced demand. Federal subsidies have amounted to billions of dollars, in an effort to stabilize milk prices. At the same time that billions of dollars were paid by taxpayers to large corporations, thousands of small, family-run dairy farms have gone out of business each year because the milk prices are so low. In 2000, two-thirds of the federal farm subsidies went to 10% of the farm owners. Subsidies are based on farm size, rather than need. Ted Turner, one of the largest private landowners in the United States, was paid at least $190,000 in subsidies in 2000 for ranches he owns in Montana, South Dakota and Florida.[85] The number of farms in the US is rapidly dwindling from a high of about 7 million down to about 1.6 million, the number in the year 1850. The size of farms in that year was about 200 acres and is now at about 500 acres.[86]

Monsanto consistently blocks legislation to monitor the use and effects of rBGH. Even the FDA admits that humans gain nothing from rBGH. So why is rBGH still used when there is so much known about it and its maker? There is only one answer, profit at any cost by a multinational corporation with little regard for life, health, dignity or values. This is one example of many illustrating that Monsanto cannot be trusted at any time, no matter what they promise or how benevolent they appear to be.

The Percy Schmeiser Case

In March of 2001, a Canadian court ordered Percy Schmeiser, a farmer in Saskatchewan, to pay Monsanto over $15,000 plus damages, which could amount to another $75,000, after Monsanto’s genes were found in his canola crop. To obtain a test specimen, Monsanto company investigators trespassed on Schmeiser's land. And even though Schmeiser had not intentionally planted the GMO canola, he was still found liable because Monsanto owns patent rights on the genes used in the altered canola.

In court 70-year-old Schmeiser asked:

"What if a farmer has a scrub bull? And his neighbor's got a herd of purebred registered cows? Through negligence, the bull gets over the fence and impregnates his neighbor's cows. Now the guy with the scrub bull says those calves are his. The cows too! Same thing, eh?" The judge disagreed by stating that "[t]he bull farmer didn't have a patent on the bull."

"It will take totally all of my wife's and myself's (sic) retirement funds that we've worked for all our life. I've lost 50 years of work because of a company's genetically altered seed getting into my canola, destroying what I've worked for, destroying my property and getting sued on top of it."[87]

In August of 2001, a tornado in Homefield, Manitoba, seeds from a GMO canola crop were blown into other canola fields up to eight kilometres away. A farmer said, "The tornado actually picked up the canola plants and actually wrapped them around these trees." Nature does not follow any rules or regulations prescribed by humans. On the other hand, we mere mortals had better start accounting for nature; meaning that we cannot release genes that we have no basic knowledge of into the wild. The author of this paper feels that we should not be experimenting with life forms in general because the variables far exceed anything we can comprehend. Besides the millions of acres of GE foods planted worldwide, there are smaller plots of experimental crops planted everywhere that are just as exposed to the elements as the canola crop referenced above.[88]

Monsanto is pursuing suits against other farmers as well.[89] Organic farmers have followed the lead of Monsanto, and have begun their own suits.[90]

At the same time, the efficacy of Roundup is slipping quickly.[91]

Update: The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of Percy Schmeiser in January 2004. And the political climate for this case is much better than it had been in the past. It is highly likely that he will win this battle and the war that Monsanto waged against him.        . . . More

Corporate ethics and responsibility to society

Physicist/author Margaret Wertheim makes the point that the technology will put them out of what little work they now have.

“Several billion of the world's people still live on the land. What will happen to their livelihoods — and to their very lives — if they are made redundant by large-scale industrialized farms? Where will they find work? Will already-overcrowded Third World cities be able to absorb this immense influx of poor, ill-educated people?”[92]

No reduction in use of synthetic pesticides

Crop losses from pests have not decreased with the yearly increases in pesticide applications. Some crop losses stand at nearly 30% despite the overuse of pesticides—about of active ingredients worldwide. According to UC Berkeley Dr. Miguel Altieri, "several agricultural scientists have arrived at a general consensus that modern agriculture confronts an ecological crisis." Crops grown in monocultures cannot defend themselves from pest attacks. In the introduction of his book, Altieri states that "A key problem facing the public is that biotechnology companies and associated scientific bodies are making false promises that genetic engineering will move agriculture away from a dependence on chemical inputs, reduce environmental problems, and solve world hunger. Such promises are founded on philosophical and scientific premises that are fundamentally flawed, and these premises need to be exposed and criticized in order to advance toward a truly sustainable agriculture."[93]

More pounds of herbicides are applied on the average acre of Roundup-Ready soybeans (Monsanto’ GMO variety that is resistant to Roundup herbicide) compared to the average acre planted to conventional soybean varieties. Average per acre pounds of herbicide applied on RR soybeans exceeds by 2- to 10-fold herbicide use on the approximate 30% of soybean acres where farmers depend largely on low-dose imidazolinone and sulfonylurea herbicides. Herbicide use on RR soybean acres is gradually rising as a result of weed shifts, late-season weed escapes leading to a buildup in weed seedbanks, and the loss of susceptibility to glyphosate in some weed species.[94]

“Claims in favor of GM crops often involve environmental benefits for agriculture through reducing the need for agri-chemicals and promoting the practice of sustainable agriculture. However, these statements are based on a reductive view of sustainability since a global environmental assessment is usually missing. Current engineered pest resistance relies on vulnerable, monogenic mechanisms that would rapidly result in the selection of resistant pests and would need to be replaced in the short term. Herbicide resistance is prone to similar drawbacks. Emergence of weeds resistant to herbicide through outbreeding and gene dispersal would impose the replacement of both the transgenic crops carrying the herbicide resistance gene and the herbicide itself. Instead of sustainability, these approaches promote transient, disposable pest management systems with short-lived, ephemeral crop varieties and herbicides or pesticides.”[95]

GMO Pollution

Bt toxin from GMO corn has been found in concentrations that were 5 times higher than in drainage waters and sediments near agricultural land.

The Québec study showed that earthworms are harmed by this Bt pollution because they are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of the Bt insecticide. This news further confirms previous studies indicating that Bt corn poisoned not only the corn borer but also monarch butterflies.

You Are What You Eat[96]

A study commissioned by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), at Leeds University found that DNA is not degraded under most processing conditions. This means that GE products eaten by livestock is not decomposed

“Current animal feed is likely to contain substantial amounts of undegraded DNA, and secondary horizontal transfer of intact antibiotic resistance genes to bacteria and other organisms cannot be ruled out. Other components of transgenic DNA may also have significant health impacts on livestock and human beings up the food chain.”

MAFF recommends:

“In view of the potential health impacts due to the secondary horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA on livestock and human beings, all current animal feed should be withdrawn immediately. Steps should be taken to ensure that no GM material will be fed to animals directly or incorporated into commercial animal feed.”[97]

Since livestock is being fed GE feed that contains undegraded foreign DNA that was inserted into it, the next logical question is to question whether or not that foreign DNA survives the digestion processes of the livestock. And the answer is that the DNA most certainly can survive digestion. Nutrition scientists of the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena/Germany detected DNA fragments of genetically engineered corn in organs and meat of chicken.[98] It then passes through the digestive processes of humans:

"In contrast to earlier views of long-standing, DNA is not fragmented in the intestine but rather remains stable surprisingly long. DNA ingested with food can be excreted only after partial digestion. Moreover, it can also pass into the blood and be taken up by leukocytes and cells of the liver and spleen."[99]

A famous study by Dr. Arpad Pusztai found that rats fed a diet of GE potatoes caused an abnormal increase in the number of normal cells in normal arrangement of connective tissue surrounding the small intestine. The rats in his study that ate GE potatoes that express GNA lectin experienced decreased organ weights and immune damage. Dr. Pusztai’s work was discredited by the agbiotech industry, which also had him discharged from his research position at [100]

Sources for lectin include: wheat, wheat germ, quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley, millet and corn, legumes, including all dried beans such as soy and peanuts, dairy, potato, tomato, eggplant and pepper, milled grains, flours, oils, vinegars, peanut butter, cereal or legume oils (soy, canola, corn), additives, thickeners, grain vinegar and products containing grain vinegar, grain alcohol including grain based vodka, and all beers and ales.

GMO Contamination of the Natural World

Uncertainty is extremely high at each level of GMO production.[101] The unknown dwarfs the known. But we are told repeatedly that they are safe. Biotech scientists and their sponsoring agbiotech corporations are presently incapable of predicting the risks of their actions. There has been no long-term testing of GE foods at any level. No corporation, academic institution, private laboratory, or governmental agency has done so because it would necessitate the forestalling of a big moneymaker in favor of profit.

Let me offer a simplified illustration of the absurdity of these claims of safety. Consider the human body’s complexity and infinite interconnectivity with itself, those around it, and its entire environment—both natural and manmade—as compared with state-of-the-art human technology. The number of genes in the human genome ranges between 27,462 and 153,478 (as of July 2001). There are about 100 trillion cells in the human body. If all DNA in the human body were put end to end, it would reach the Sun and back more than 600 times. There are 80,000 chemicals in commercial use, and only a small percentage of them have been tested. Then consider ASCI White, the most powerful computer on earth. To calculate the movements of a mere 240 molecules (600 atoms) in an explosion-produced mixture of hydrogen fluoride and water vapor for 1-trillionth of a second, scientists have had to tie up the most powerful supercomputer available for about 15 days.[102]

Simplified Example:

Possible combinations of chemicals if:
A: 
Number of chemicals in commercial production 87,000 
B:  Number of chemicals registered 41,778,066 (on 3sep02)

Then:
A:  approximately 1.063725377 x 1086,991(see note a)
B:  approximately 4.070265758 x 1026,180 (see note b)

a) equals 10 followed by 86,991 zeros.
b) equals 40 followed by 26,180 zeros.

This example contains an infinitesimal number of
variables compared with those required for genetically
engineered life forms. Once these things are set lose
in the environment, there is no taking them back.
They become part of our world and our bodies. 

Not being a mathematician, I will not attempt to scale up the time requirements for predicting adverse outcomes of GE foods, but it would certainly be longer by many magnitudes of order. Most likely, ten years would be inadequate to study an organism to be released into the vast world of nature. Then, considering the state-of-the-art computer, it will be a very long time before they will be powerful enough to handle the task. [See box at right.]

The greatest absurdity in allowing the widespread sowing of GE foods is that they have received no such scrutiny. GMO safety research budgets are about 1% of total spending. Virtually no long-term testing has been done on any GE foods. And if the regulatory agencies have seen any of the so-called long-term testing, it has not been made public. Contrary to the claims of Industry—that the biotech industry is the most regulated industry in history, it is quite the opposite—the least regulated.

Pigs that had been genetically modified to develop a type of diabetic blindness and injected with enough barbiturates and chemicals to kill a 500-pound pig, were made into sausage in High Springs, Florida. The sausage was served at funeral dinner, but was discarded because "it didn't taste right."[103]

Corn that had been genetically modified to contain a pesticide in each and every one of its cells—StarLink corn by Monsanto(?)—was found in tacos at a supermarket. It created a flurry of media coverage that continues today.

Canola has become herbicide-resistant through cross-pollinization with canola that has been genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s Roundup®. This is an enormous financial problem for the farmer whose field is contaminated. Many markets for crops mandate that they be GMO-free, meaning that the DNA of genetically engineered crops cannot be found in them. Monsanto’s response is that they “[work] with the farmer to address the situation to their satisfaction." However, the method they employ discourages farmers from complaining. Monsanto does indeed contact the farmer and visits the farm. But the farmers are treated as if they know nothing about farming. They are grilled about every aspect of their farm and told that they don’t know how to keep their seed free from such contamination. Monsanto also does this same type of questioning for each individual field the farmer has, which takes a lot of time the farmer doesn’t have. [104]

Biotech Industry is Self Regulating

common sense.

Pollen from GMO plants has been shown to travel miles, but the “area of refuge” required by the EPA for Bt Corn varieties is only several hundred feet. This is a completely unrealistic safety measure.

Patents

Is it Unique or is it Equal? …That Depends.

Agbiotech corporations use whatever rules fit the situation when they need permission or protection. Mostly it depends who is doing the questioning. When they are before the FDA, asking for approval to plant millions of acres of GMO apples, they are equal—an apple is an apple is an apple. This is called substantial equivalence. It is also used at the time of packaging. By doing so, they avoid the need for labeling because, through the use of the substantial equivalence clause, there is no difference between a GMO apple pie and its one made from natural apples.

Then, as if some miracle had occurred, when that same GMO apple is presented to the US Patent Office, it becomes unique. Patents offer rights and protections; thereby create wealth for holder of that patent.

The Substantial Equivalence Doctrine

Confidential documents made public in an on-going class action lawsuit have revealed that the FDA’s own scientists do not agree with concept of "substantial equivalence between GE and normal seeds.

“FDA does not receive notice of GM-plant pesticides, and its 1992 Policy Statement suggests that it requires very little notice for foods derived from the vast majority of GM plants. If a manufacturer or an importer decides that a genetic modification results in the addition of a food additive to food, i t must provide notice to FDA by way of a petition for approval of that food additive prior to marketing the food. So far, however, only one food additive petition has been filed for GM foods the Calgene petition for approval of the kanamycin resistance gene. At present, the voluntary approach adopted in the 1992 Policy Statement allows manufacturers and importers to market GM foods that they determine to be GRAS without informing FDA. FDA invites companies to request consultations with the agency, but it does not insist upon them. On May 3, 2000, after worldwide protests placed GM foods high on the political agenda, FDA published a press release promising to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to require notice to the agency of GM food GRAS determinations, but the promised notice has not yet appeared in the Federal Register. The agency has in fact expressed doubts in the past about its authority to require manufacturers and importers to provide notice to it of their GRAS determinations.

One need not be a fierce skeptic of GM foods to conclude that the existing regulatory regime allows manufacturers and importers a great deal of discretion in deciding whether to notify regulatory agencies of their plans to introduce GM plants into the environment and into commerce. Although a company that desires to play it safe will provide notification to USDA, EPA and FDA in close cases, no serious consequences are likely to befall companies that decline to provide notice to those agencies if they can plausibly argue that their plants are not regulated articles or plant pests (in the case of USDA), are GRAS in the case of FDA, or come within the agency-created exemptions in the case of EPA. Consumers are therefore ultimately at the mercy of the proponents of the technologies to exercise their judgment wisely in deciding whether to inform regulatory agencies of the introduction of GM plants into the environment or the food supply. In the case of imports, the fact that GM foods are not likely to be detected at the borders means that consumers must in effect place their trust in the regulatory regimes of the exporting countries to evaluate the safety of GM foods imported into this country. Many consumer and environmental groups do not trust the companies to make wise decisions in this regard. Given the aggressive development of GM foods in some countries like China, consumers may not trust importers and exporting countries to make decisions with the best interests of U.S. consumers in mind.”[105]

Substantial equivalence does not deal with the subtle or unexpected changes that are inherent to GE foods. It is based on subjective determinations made by the corporations themselves and low-level bureaucrats, and upon a policy of encouraging GM foods, rather than scientific principles. There are no standardized objective tests that a regulator could employ to determine equivalence or to measure substantiality.[106]

The concept of substantial equivalence as used for GE foods, is a reductionist method for their rationalization. It ignores the how GE foods have been produced. Food is not just a chemical or a machine as set out by Descartes, in his 1637 Discourse on method. He viewed living organisms as sophisticated machines ruled by the laws of physics and chemistry, thus reducing all life to what he could understand. Reductionism refers either to a philosophical approach that attempts to reduce complex phenomena to the simplest possible explanation or to the belief that such reduction constitutes the only valid style of explanation. But humans relate to food beyond the level of the mechanics of nutrition or immediate toxicity. Food is our tie to the environment. And food is a strong part of human society. In addition other things, we relate to each other through food.[107]

In February 2001, the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology recommended that there should be “rigorous scientific assessment of their potential for causing harm to the environment or to human health. Such testing should replace the current regulatory reliance on ‘substantial equivalence’ as a decision threshold.”[108]

Hungarian-born researcher Dr. Arpad Pusztai explained what he thought about the concept of GE foods being substantially equivalent to natural foods. As an example, he uses the testing of animals for deleterious health effects caused by GE foods fed to them:

“[T]he main problem is that the researchers appear to have done their utmost to find no problem. They were using mature animals which are not forming body tissues and organs. Adults only need a small amount of protein because their bodies are in equilibrium, in homeostasis. But a young growing animal needs a great deal more protein because it's laying down muscle and tissues, and forming its organs.

With a nutritional study on mature animals, you would never see any difference in organ weights even if the food turned out to be anti-nutritional. The animals would have to be emaciated or poisoned to show anything. In this study, they gave the rats a commercial feed that contained 20% protein, of which only one-tenth was replaced by GM soya protein. Most of this high overall dietary protein was used by the rats for energy, thus masking any possible effect of the GM soya protein. You need to stress the animals if you want to see the effects of a feeding trial in a short enough time. This is my field, so you can take it for granted that if I had had the chance of refereeing that paper, it would never have passed.

Another problem was the way they did the post-mortem. They never weighed the organs; they just looked at them ˜ what they call "eyeballing". I must have done thousands of post-mortems so I know that even if there is a difference in organ weights of as much as 25%, you wouldn't see it. In my lectures I used to put up two identical computer-drawn rats side by side and put two different sized organs in them, and I asked the audience which rat was bigger, and they always got it wrong. You have to weigh them.”[109]

FDA: “It’s not a potato, it’s a pesticide"

The FDA states "if a new food product developed through biotechnology does not contain substances that are significantly different from those already in the diet, it does not require premarket approval." It goes on to say a trait of resistance to a pest or a pesticide is subject to regulation by the EPA, thus alleviating itself from a nuisance issue.[110]

EPA: “It’s a not a pesticide, it’s a potato”

When New York Times journalist Michael Pollan did his research for a 1998 article on GE foods, he was rather startled by answers he received from the regulatory agencies.

"Since my Bt potatoes were being regulated as a pesticide by the EPA rather than as a food by the FDA, I wondered if the safety standards are the same. "Not exactly," Maryanski explained. The FDA requires "a reasonable certainty of no harm" in a food additive, a standard most pesticides could not meet. After all, "pesticides are toxic to something," Maryanski pointed out, so the EPA instead establishes human "tolerances" for each chemical and then subjects it to a risk-benefit analysis.

When I called on the EPA and asked if the agency had tested my Bt potatoes for safety as a human food, the answer was . . . not exactly. It seems the EPA works from the assumption that if the original potato is safe and the Bt protein added to it is safe, then the whole New Leaf package is presumed to be safe. Some geneticists believe this reasoning is flawed, contending that the process of genetic engineering itself may cause subtle, as yet unrecognized changes in a food."[111]

Must be restated…add refs and URLs….

http://www.mindfully.org/Farm/Green-Revolution-Reg-Vacuum.htm 

In a memo to FDA Biotechnology Coordinator James Maryanski in 1992, FDA compliance officer Dr. Linda Kahl argued that genetically engineered crops and traditional crops were not the same. "The process of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks," Dr. Kahl wrote.

In a separate memo, Dr. Louis Pribyl, an FDA microbiologist, commented that a draft of the FDA policy "read very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects." It is "industry's pet idea that there are no unintended effects that will raise the FDA's level of concern." But, Prybil wrote, "there is no data to back up their contention." See below…

In court filings, the FDA has dismissed the memos as coming from "low-level FDA employees" and said their comments were not part of the formal record on which the agency based its decision. A judge is expected to decide upon the lawsuit against FDA early this year.

GE foods Have Lower Yields

Dr. Charles Benbrook reviewed the results of over 8,200 university-based soybean varietal trials in 1998. What he found was that "[u]nder most conditions extensive evidence shows that RR soybeans produce lower yields than possible if farmers planted comparable but non-engineered varieties." They produced between 5.3% and 10% less than conventional varieties. He also believes that "this downward shift in soybean yield potential could emerge as the most significant decline in a major crop ever associated with a single genetic modification."[112]

Corporate Piracy

In what should be viewed as both as resource and cultural piracy, US patent laws allow corporations to take the biological and natural resources and heritage of communities without permission. As well, it can be considered economic piracy, because it destroys the markets of those it steals from.[113]

Regulatory Aspects

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Royal-Society-Canada-Questions.htm 

An expert panel convened by the Royal Society of Canada has serious doubts about many aspects of the biotech industry ranging from a lack of peer review and secrecy, to their control of academic research.

Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology

7.2 The Panel recommends that the design and execution of all testing regimes of new transgenic organisms should be conducted in open consultation with the expert scientific community.

7.3 The Panel recommends that analysis of the outcomes of all tests on new transgenic organisms should be monitored by an appropriately configured panel of "arms-length" experts from all sectors, who report their decisions and rationale in a public forum.

8.1 The Panel recommends the precautionary regulatory assumption that, in general, new technologies should not be presumed safe unless there is a reliable scientific basis for considering them safe. The Panel rejects the use of "substantial equivalence" as a decision threshold to exempt new GM products from rigorous safety assessments on the basis of superficial similarities because such a regulatory procedure is not a precautionary assignment of the burden of proof.

8.2 The Panel recommends that the primary burden of proof be upon those who would deploy food biotechnology products to carry out the full range of tests necessary to demonstrate reliably that they do not pose unacceptable risks.

8.3 The Panel recommends that, where there are scientifically reasonable theoretical or empirical grounds establishing a prima facie case for the possibility of serious harms to human health, animal health or the environment, the fact that the best available test data are unable to establish with high confidence the existence or level of the risk should not be taken as a reason for withholding regulatory restraint on the product.

8.4 As a precautionary measure, the Panel recommends that the prospect of serious risks to human health, of extensive, irremediable disruptions to the natural ecosystems, or of serious diminution of biodiversity, demand that the best scientific methods be employed to reduce the uncertainties with respect to these risks. Approval of products with these potentially serious risks should await the reduction of scientific uncertainty to minimum levels.

8.5 The Panel recommends a precautionary use of "conservative" safety standards with respect to certain kinds of risks (e.g. potentially catastrophic). When "substantial equivalence" is invoked as an unambiguous safety standard (and not as a decision threshold for risk assessment), it stipulates a reasonably conservative standard of safety consistent with a precautionary approach to the regulation of risks associated with GM foods.

9.1 The Panel recommends that Canadian regulatory agencies and officials exercise great care to maintain an objective and neutral stance with respect to the public debate about the risks and benefits of biotechnology in their public statements and interpretations of the regulatory process.

9.2 The Panel recommends that the Canadian regulatory agencies seek ways to increase the public transparency of the scientific data and the scientific rationales upon which their regulatory decisions are based.

9.3 The Panel recommends that the Canadian regulatory agencies implement a system of regular peer review of the risk assessments upon which the approvals of genetically engineered products are based. This peer review should be conducted by an external (non-governmental) and independent panel of experts. The data and the rationales upon which the risk assessment and the regulatory decision are based should be available to public review.

9.4 The Panel recommends that the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Commission (CBAC) undertake a review of the problems related to the increasing domination of the public research agenda by private, commercial interests, and make recommendations for public policies that promote and protect fully independent research on the health and environmental risks of agricultural biotechnology.

Safety

In January of 1992, Dr. Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer criticized the FDA’s logic that GE foods are the same as traditionally bred plants.

“[T]here is no data that could quantify risk….[The FDA is] asking the scientific experts to generate the basis for this policy statement in the absence of any data…. [T]he first and only clue [that there is danger to the public health] will be the 'body count', so to speak…. There is no data that addresses the relative magnitude of the risks…. Are we to insinuate that practitioners of genetic engineering do not need to adhere to the most basic level of good laboratory techniques simply because the traditional breeding community cannot also provide that data?….[The FDA is trying to] fit a square peg into a round hole [by forcing] an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices.[114]

Allergies

York Nutritional Laboratory (YNL) in England tested 4,500 people for allergic reactions to foods and found a 50% increase in the year 1998. This was an increase from 10:100 to 15:100 in just one year. After performing such testing for 17 years, soy is not placed in YNL’s “top ten” foods that caused allergic reactions. Others on the list are yeast, sunflower seeds and nuts. People experienced irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems and skin complaints including acne and eczema, along with chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches and lethargy. Soy is found in more than 60% of the processed foods marketed today.

"This is a very interesting if slightly worrying, development. It points to the fact that far more work is needed to assess their safety. At the moment no allergy tests are carried out before GM foods are marketed and that also needs to be looked at."
Dr Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology at Guy's Hospital, Central London.[115]

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) featured an article on the allergenicity of soy modified to contain a protein from the brazil nut. Because the trait was discovered before marketing began, there was no danger to the consumer. This is an ideal situation because it was discovered before being mass-marketed. But in reality, all genetically engineered organisms are unique. As such, there can be no predictions made about how the added genes will react within the host organism, or how the new living entity will react to its environment. In the NEJM editorial, Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H. called for increased regulatory oversight.

“This situation illustrates the pressing need to expand basic and clinical research on food allergies. More information about incidence, prevalence, dietary exposure, antigenicity, immune responses, diagnosis, and treatment would help researchers, regulators, and biotechnology companies predict whether transgenic proteins are likely to cause harm. In the special case of transgenic soybeans, the donor species was known to be allergenic, serum samples from persons allergic to the donor species were available for testing, and the product was withdrawn. The next case could be less ideal, and the public less fortunate. It is in everyone's best interest to develop regulatory policies for transgenic foods that include premarketing notification and labeling. Industry benefits when the public is convinced that transgenic foods are safe, and stronger federal regulations would encourage such public confidence.”[116]

The kind of oversight that this NEJM editorial calls for has not materialized.

Regulators Can’t Test or Regulate GE foods

Corporate media campaigns boast of rigorous and thorough testing of GMO food products’ safety, however it cannot actually be done. Presently, the FDA, EPA, and USDA have no means to test GE foods for one even aspect of safety. In January of 2002, EPA, director of the Human Studies Division at EPA's National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Linda S. Birnbaum confirmed that there is insufficient knowledge to test these novel life forms.

Attention was brought to this issue because StarLink corn was found in a great number of products and fields that it had no place in. The great controversy was because it was illegal for StarLink corn to be used in human foods. Forced recalls of products illegally containing StarLink corn cost Aventis several hundred million dollars. They had to reimburse farmers and compensate food producers. Newly found StarLink-containing products are still being found a year after the recall.[117] Originally approved for use as animal feed, StarLink has never been proven safe for human consumption, or that it will not cause an allergic reaction in humans.

In September of 2000, Kraft Foods recalled its Taco Bell taco shells that were in grocery stores all across the US. From the onset of these findings, Aventis claimed in many public statements that StarLink was safe.[118] Day after day, week after week, and month after month, StarLink corn turned up in everything from Taco’s and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to Sausage and Chips. The FDA reported recalls of StarLink-contaminated products well into 2001.[119]

While StarLink corn was grown on less than 0.4% of the total US acreage—about 300,000 acres[120]—it was found to contaminate nearly 25% of the entire US corn crop when finally searched for by USDA inspectors. The National Corn Growers Association was even surprised by the degree of contamination.

"It really tells you how much grain is co-mingled, that's the lesson from it. It's amazing how a very few kernels get mixed in with millions of bushels. None of us are convinced that we'll be able to abandon the testing for domestic food use and exports any time in the near future."[121]

The lesson of this continuing incident is that no person, animal, or plant is protected from these genetically mutated genes once they are released anywhere in the environment in any way. The FDA and EPA cannot force a corporation to test for adverse effects when they don’t know what effects to look for and there are no tests even if they knew what to look for. Nobody has enough knowledge of the process or its resultant products to have released any of them in any amount. Yet a great proportion of our lands are planted with GE foods that we know extremely little about. How they act in the wild is completely different than in the test tube. The variables of interactivity are infinite.

NYT article
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/FDA-Officials-Disagreed.htm 

A review of GMO technology by the Plant Research International B.V. in Wageningen, The Netherlands, “demonstrate[s] the fragmentary nature of current knowledge of genome structure and function and regulation of gene expression in general, and the limited understanding of several physiological, ecological, agronomical and toxicological aspects relevant to present-day and planned genetic modifications of crops.” They found that there have been extremely few studies of GE foods comparing the functioning of crop plants originating from several different (xeno) transformation events, and of the few reports that were found, there is conflict.[122]

In the fall of 2000, I attended a lecture by Richard Strohman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley. He explained in very simple language why genetic engineering is not safe and should not be released into nature. His reasoning was not that we know enough to categorically condemn genetic manipulations of life, quite the contrary; he focused on the unknowns, and again, the importance of asking the right questions.

"The reason why Monsanto can claim scientific soundness is that they are only answering the technical question, `Can I move this gene and this characteristic from A to B?' They are not asking the questions that the current understanding of cell biology demands. You can ask the technical question and get the answer you are looking for. You can take a gene from A and put it into B. We know that. But that's the only question we can answer with certainty. We now realize that there are a whole host of other questions.”

Furthermore Professor Strohman believes that:

"We're in a crisis position where we know the weakness of the genetic concept, but we don't know how to incorporate it into a new, more complete understanding. Monsanto knows this. DuPont knows this. Novartis knows this. They all know what I know. But they don't want to look at it because it's too complicated and it's going to cost too much to figure out."[123]

In a recent Science article, a similar sentiment regarding the knowledge accumulated to date on how the cells works was voiced. If only the regulators would read such material! Better still, federal legislators should be taking notice of such statements.

"[D]espite growing knowledge about the molecular components of the cell, the dynamics of even simple cellular networks are not well understood. For instance, a quantitative explanation of the high sensitivity and exact adaptation observed in bacterial chemotaxis is still lacking. Similarly, many other cellular networks, such as the ones responsible for signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, or metabolism, are poorly understood from a quantitative point of view." - C. Guet, et al. Combinatorial Synthesis of Genetic Networks Science v.296, n.5572, 24may02

Trojan Gene Hypothesis

The Trojan gene theory by Muir, et al, warns that one GE fish released could wipe out local fish populations. Since the last Ice Age, salmon have migrated thousands of miles and return to their home river. GE salmon can grow up to 10 times faster than normal salmon and attain a size advantage of five times larger than normal salmon. Because they attain a larger size, more quickly, they are more attractive as a mate than the normal fish. The severely limited capabilities of genetic engineering result in inherent genetic defects that are completely unexpected and unpredictable. One such defect is that a great percentage of these fish do not reach sexual maturity. The combined effect of greater sexual attractiveness and shortened life could result in the extinction of an entire local population. The loss of a species would have a cascading negative effect throughout the local community, which in turn, would continue throughout the ecosystem.

“The predicted time course for extinction of a wild-type population after the release of transgenic individuals varies as a function of the rate of transgene spread, which is influenced by the relative mating advantage of transgenic males and by the severity of viability reduction in transgenic young.” [124]

A typical industry response from industry is that technology will assure the safety of GE foods. A/F [antifreeze] Protein Corp., genetically engineers fish at Aquabounty Farms, on Prince Edward Island. They have applied to the FDA to sell GE salmon. They have 15 million GE salmon eggs set to go to market. Elliot Entis, president of A/F Protein, allayed environmentalists’ fear by saying that existing technology will sterilize “almost 100%.” But the Muir study indicates that only one GE fish is required to take down a whole species.

According to Mr. Entis, “[A/F Protein’s] studies have not found that their salmon end up being larger than wild salmon at sexual maturity, meaning they would not have a mating advantage. He also calls the Trojan gene hypothesis beside the point: Fish breeding technology can render the biotech fish almost 100 percent female and infertile, he said, and that means they simply can't reproduce.”[125]

The Genetic Engineering Process

Genetic engineering is an inefficient process. The first step, selecting a gene for certain desired traits, is accomplished with sufficient accuracy. But from then on, all is hit-or-miss. The selected gene is shot, with what could be likened to a cannon, into the chromosomes of the host organism. It takes thousands of attempts before the gene is located within the cell enough accuracy to attain evidence of the desired trait being active.

The survival rate in one study was fourteen of four hundred lambs. Six were alive a week later. And only three remained after six months.

What do FDA Scientists Think?

Dr. Louis J. Pribyl, an FDA microbiologist, reviewed (6mar92) the Federal Register notice of an FDA biotechnology regulatory document. He had many concerns, negative comments, and strong warnings. The FDA ignored all of them, and the popular media made only extremely limited mention of them. Dr. Pribyl pointed out that the then-proposed FDA regulatory document was a sham:

"This document reads like a biotech REDBOOK!! The initial intent of the document was to present scientific considerations and to avoid telling industry what tests to run and how to go about doing it, but the flow charts do just what (initially) was to be avoided. -It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects, but contains very little input from consumers and only a few answers for their concerns, many of which would be answered by supplying the scientific grounding principles."

He also completely negates the FDA/industry premise that there will be no unintended effects:

"This is industry's pet idea, namely that there are no unintended effects that will raise the FDA's level of concern. But time and time again, there is no data to backup their contention, while the scientific literature does contain many examples of naturally occurring pleiotropic effects. When the introduction of genes into plant's genome randomly occurs, as is the case with the current technology (but not traditional breeding), it seems apparent that many pleiotropic effects [the appearance of unpredicted compounds in the transgenic plant] will occur. Many of these effects might not be seen by the breeder because o£ the more or less similar growing conditions in the limited trials that are performed. Until more of these experimental plants have a wider environmental distribution, it would be premature for the FDA to summarily dismiss pleiotropy as is done here."[126]

What do scientists think?

At a recent academic conference on GE foods I attended at UC Berkeley, Dr. Ignacio Chapela expressed very strongly that he feels universities have been taken over by corporations, and that researchers have been reduced to corporate lackeys.

“This is a reality [GE foods] being released into the environment. I want to express my urgent position. Too long we have played a media game on TV when the biological reality is being played out all over the world with artificial microbes. These constructs are showing up in the strangest places. (he mentions Mexico and a few other countries) There is NO (emphasis added) precedence to what is being done. Do we, will we, can we survive in a GMO world?

This is a crisis situation—a biosphere being radically modified. The Ag/Bio MNCs [multinational corporations] are the replacement of the Nation/State. It negates the enlightenment principles...is the formation of a new governance. We [those in attendance, or possibly more specifically, academics] in Berkeley are playing a major role in this reformation. The university is nothing but a locus of investment for economic growth and development. We are that whether we like it or not.”[127]

What do government officials really think?

USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman’s role at the USDA was that of a high profile promoter of agbiotech. His confession to the press upon his departure is a frightening glimpse into the power that agbiotech corporations have over the regulatory process:

"What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn't good because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you're against it, you're Luddites, you're stupid. There was rhetoric like that even here in this department. You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view on some of the issues being raised. So I pretty much spouted the rhetoric that everybody else around here spouted; it was written into my speeches"[128]

What do officials from other nations think?

After Monsanto began a £1 million advertising campaign to persuade the European public that biotech will feed the world's growing population, 24 leading African agriculturalists and environmental scientists representing their countries at the UN issued a statement to counter Monsanto's arguments. They say Monsanto is using the poor to emotionally blackmail skeptical Europeans by making claims that which are blatantly untrue and unproven.

"We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves."

The African statement calls on Europeans and others to stand in solidarity to resist the gene technology, especially the Terminator Technology that destroys the capability of crops to reproduce from saved seeds.

"This is a crime against nature and humanity and should be resisted and terminated" said Dr. Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, African spokesperson in many international fora2. Prof. Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement Kenya said: "History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day. Despite protests from citizens, social justice for the common good was eroded in favour of private profits. 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."[129]

What does the Clergy think?

The Catholic Bishops of South Africa feel that because there is no long-term safety testing of GE foods and for reasons of precaution, "It is morally irresponsible to produce and market genetically modified food."

“In November 2000, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) issued a press statement supporting the campaign calling for a five-year freeze on genetic engineering and patenting in crop and food production. The Bishops' stand is mainly based on the precautionary principle. So far, no rigorous long term testing has been carried out to ascertain the effects of genetically engineered crops and foods on humans, animals, plant-life and soil. Doubts about the safety of the new bio-technologies have been confirmed by the results of scientific studies and many scientists are warning that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) pose risks to health, for example, increasing the incidence of allergies, toxic reactions and antibiotic resistance.

In 1999 the British Medical Association called for an open-ended moratorium until there is greater scientific certainty about the safety of GM seeds and derived products. In February 2001 the Royal Society of Canada added its voice to the call for a moratorium. Many scientists around the world have joined the call, along with farming organisations, especially in the USA, which are advising farmers to discontinue GE practices.

Because safety-testing on these foods is not strict, their long-term effects on our health and on the environment are unknown. Unlike chemical or nuclear contamination, new living organisms, bacteria and viruses will be released into the environment to reproduce, migrate and mutate. They will transfer their new characteristics to other organisms. These changes can never be undone or contained. The effects of genetic mistakes are largely irreversible and irretrievable. Therefore, at this stage - as the Bishops declare in their statement, "It is morally irresponsible to produce and market genetically modified food."[130]

Who is Responsible?

In order to find the solution to feeding the growing masses of the world, we must all look within ourselves to first see the problem. The solution will then make itself known.

Much of what we take for granted—the material wealth and life of leisure—are the cause of suffering for those whose lives are sacrificed so that we may live like royalty. In order for us to enjoy such extravagances as never before seen—the gas-guzzling cars and SUVs, frequent flying, multiple TVs and VCRs, fancy restaurants many times a month, homes with many thousands of square feet—millions of people must work nonstop in multiple jobs for wages that are impossible to live on in almost any fashion.

The $150 Nike athletic shoes most people wear is a good example that many can easily relate to. The Nike workers at a Vietnam factory making these shoes earn about $10 per week. Working conditions are unhealthy and dangerous. They are constantly exposed to mind-warping, hormone mimicking chemicals that can cause a wide range of negative health effects such as reduced fertility, mental retardation, loss of short-term memory, various cancers, and more. They must live in absolute squalor for lack of sufficient income. They eat a substandard diet, if they eat at all. To be sure, they do not like their jobs or their employer. Nike claims that they pay a fair wage to their workers and give them a safe place to work. They say that the workers do not need as much to live on as those in the US. When CorpWatch visited the factory and spoke with the workers. The workers they spoke with complained about working conditions, including heat, chemical exposures, poor ventilation, forced overtime, and verbal abuse by managers. And leaders of the trade union were selected and paid by management. [131]

Nike is but one example in the employment

Multinational corporations and institutions—the World Bank, IMF, and G-8—reinforce the logic of profit and exploitation of the land and people. The free market does not work for the betterment of all, as the proponents contend. If it were true, then poverty and hunger must be the preference of the poor.

If one is to believe the logic of economic leaders such as Milton Friedman, that the market best allows for the expression of individual preferences in the production of goods and services, then it must be the preference of much of the world's population to suffer from hunger in the midst of plenty.

This system does not work for the betterment of all, as proponents of the "free market" would contend? In a telling exchange reported in the book with Milton Friedman, a leading economist of the free market school, the authors answer his claim that the logic of the market best allows for the expression of individual preferences in the production of goods and services. The authors reply that it could hardly be the preference of much of the world's population to suffer from hunger in the midst of plenty.[132]

Globalization = Corporatization

The reality of globalization is not what the mythmakers present on the evening news, with scenes of multiracial hands joined, singing, "We are the world." Globalization, as used by the likes of the WTO and IMF, is a cancer sucking the lifeblood from democracy all over the world, making it next to impossible for the poor to earn a living wage. This is hard-core globalization—not the glossy image that sits in the minds of most US citizens. It enslaves countries through IMF bailouts after they find themselves saddled with unmanageable debt. In order to get the IMF money to pay of the horrendous debt, a country basically gives up its economic sovereignty. They must generally end public subsidies for basic items such as food, which doubles the its price. Sometimes they must devalue their currency, giving the poor even less economic power. State jobs are drastically cut, adding to the already unbearable unemployment. Then they raise interest rates, which kills the small local businesses and increasing unemployment even further. Finally, the IMF insists that a country open up to foreign investment, which further devastates local small businesses and increases unemployment yet again.[133]

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, articulates the suffering of the world’s poor:

“Globalization is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel, that is, this planet where we all live. But, passengers on this vessel are traveling in very different conditions.”

“Trifling minorities are traveling in luxurious cabins furnished with Internet, cell phones and access to global communication networks. They enjoy a nutritional, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care and to culture.”

“Overwhelming and hurting majorities are traveling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade from Africa to America in our colonial past. That is, 85% of the passengers on this ship are crowded together in its dirty hold suffering hunger, diseases and helplessness. Obviously, this vessel is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat and it pursues such an irrational and senseless route that it cannot call on a safe port. This vessel seems destined to clash with an iceberg. If that happened, we would all sink with it.”

“After World War II, Latin America had no debt but today we owe almost one trillion dollars. This is the highest per capita debt in the world. Also the income difference between the rich and the poor in the region is the greatest worldwide. There are more poor, unemployed and hungry people in Latin America now than at any other hard time in its history.”

“Presently, 727 billion US dollars from the world Central Banks' reserves are in the United States. This leads to the paradox that with their reserves the poor countries are offering cheap long-term financing to the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world while such reserves could be better invested in economic and social development.”

“The International Monetary Fund is the emblematic organization of the existing monetary system and the United States enjoys veto power over its decisions.”

“Fifty years ago we were promised that one day there would no longer be a gap between developed and underdeveloped countries. We were promised bread and justice; but today we have less and less bread and more injustice. The world can be globalized under the rule of neoliberalism but it is impossible to rule over billions of people who are hungry for bread and justice.

The pictures of mothers and children under the scourge of draughts and other catastrophes in whole regions of Africa remind us of the concentration camps in nazi Germany; they bring back to us memories of stacks of corpses or of moribund men, women and children. Another Nuremberg is required to put to trial the economic order imposed on us, the same that is killing of hunger and preventable or curable diseases more men, women and children every three years than all those killed by World War II in six years.”[134]

The people setting the present course of globalization do not consult us. If we do not voice our disapproval, we are allowing the process to continue on its present path. Initially, it would seem to be the path of least resistance. But, each opportunity missed has the effect of adding another degree of complexity to the solution.

We’d better start listening to the voices of the people

It is no stretch of the imagination to say that politicians lie, cheat, steal, gamble, and have interesting sex lives. So why do so many people believe them? Why do they follow these people whose only ambition is the squandering of useless plastic objects and massive quantities of money? We had better begin to heed the warnings that have become crystal clear. September 11th will not be forgotten by most of us, but how many understand that the US is by far the largest terrorist in the world? Read the words of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, or Michael Parenti. WRITE MORE HERE>

Irene Zubaida Khan, head of Amnesty International, was interviewed by IRIN, a UN organization:

“If people are going to be safe in New York, then the people in Afghanistan have to be as well. They have to have their human rights respected. That is the lesson we see out of this crisis. I think because of this realisation there is an enormous degree of international cooperation in Afghanistan now. The challenge will be to sustain this focus.”[135]

Dr. Wambugu

I believe Dr. Wambugu’s intentions are good, but her solution is an added distraction from the root causes of hunger. Her sincerity is not suspect, but her logic is definitely unsound. She is paraded all about the globe by the agbiotech industry in an effort to win acceptance of agbiotech crops. They would not do so unless they believed it meant profit.

As their “poster child,” she does quite a convincing job if her audience is unaware of the possible causes of hunger. Her articles and those about her are sown throughout the media, including that which our children’s young and impressionable minds will see.[136] In her 11sep01 LA Times commentary, she says, “the United Nations Human Development Report 2001 unequivocally states that biotechnology offers ‘the hope of crops’” [with better traits]. The operative word is “hope,” because very little of what the agbiotech industry has promised has come to fruition, and many unexpected negative incidents have occurred.

Dr. Wambugu, a leading plant geneticist in Kenya, helped create the genetically altered sweet potato. She is presently, the director of the African Center of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), which is funded by biotech companies like Pioneer, Monsanto, Novartis and AgrEvo as well as government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Val Giddings, a vice president of BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), was quoted as saying, "I wish we could clone her." [137]

BIO, Dr. Michael J. Phillips

BIO is the primary biotech trade association representing more than 900 biotech companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and more than 27 other nations. The executive director for food and agriculture at BIO, Dr. Michael J. Phillips, represents the agbiotech industry on domestic policy and international trade issues. He was once a scientist with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He was in charge of a crucial study of how regulators would oversee the hundreds of new organisms industry is creating. His unannounced and abrupt departure to join BIO shocked the NAS. It is an example of conflict of interest and the “revolving door”[138] between industry, academia, regulatory agencies, and legislators.

Peter Seeburg -- Will Genetically Engineered Foods Feed the World? Paul Goettlich / Mindfully.org Rev. 24oct02

This type of behavior is quite typical of the biotech corporate world. To be sure, the biotech industry was begun by the theft of genetic material from UCSF when Peter Seeburg, one of the world's most eminent molecular biologists, stole the genetic material from his study of human growth hormone at UCSF to jump-start Genentech. Not long after this theft, Genentech miraculously announced is had produced human growth hormone. UCSF sued Genentech in May of 1999, claiming that company's product infringes on the university's discovery. Under oath, Peter Seeburg said, "It was dishonest. I regret it, but that's the way we did it 20 years ago. I really am sorry." [139]

Source:
UN World Populations Estimates & Projections (1994)

In late 1998, to all intents and purposes, UC Berkeley sold the exclusive rights of its Department of Plant and Microbial Biology to Novartis, the multinational agbiotech colossus with $22 billion in sales in 1997. For a mere $50 million—half up front and the rest over 5 years—Novartis gets to observe the work of 32 faculty members and nearly 200 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. It is given the first bid to market all and any of the department’s work. This benchmark sale places Novartis in the catbird seat, with an inside voice on what gets studied. At the same time it limits the communication that is so essential to academics. One study will not be allowed to communicate with another unless Novartis grants permission.[140] This was a very shrewd investment on the part of Novartis, as the return will be better than any other they could have made.

Small Farms More Productive

Almost 30% of agricultural subsidies go to the top two percent of farms and over four-fifths to the top 30%. - Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, July 9, 1999.

Go to Miguel Altieri’s website for sustainable agriculture http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~agroeco3

“Agroecology” Also use the file GE/GE2/ Miguel-Altieri-Agroecology.htm And http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~agroeco3/

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/suncommentary/la-000090119nov11.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dsuncomment


BIOTECHNOLOGY

Protesters Don't Grasp Africa's Need 

FLORENCE WAMBUGU in the Los Angeles Times November 11, 2001.

Florence Wambugu is a plant pathologist and regional director for International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. In January, she will become executive director of A Harvest Bi

NAIROBI, Kenya — They can buy their food in supermarkets. They can eat fast food, home-cooked food, restaurant food. They can choose the more expensive organic foods, or even imported foods. They can eat fresh, frozen or canned produce. Then, from their world of plenty, they tell us what we can and cannot feed our children.

The “they” I refer to are a variety of anti-biotechnology protesters who would deny developing countries like my home, Kenya, the resources to develop a technology that can help alleviate hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Genetic engineering of plants has sparked a revolution in agriculture, one that can play an important role in feeding the world's hungry. As an African, I know that biotech is not a panacea. It cannot solve problems of inept or corrupt governments, underfunded research, unsound agricultural policy or a lack of capital. But as a scientist, I also know that biotech is a powerful new tool that can help address some of the agricultural problems that plague Africa.

The protesters have fanned the flames of mistrust of genetically modified foods through a campaign of misinformation. These people and organizations have become adept at playing on the media's appetite for controversy to draw attention to their cause. But the real victim in this controversy is the truth, and African farmers and consumers are not far behind. I know of what I speak, because I grew up barefoot and hungry in Nyeri, Kenya, searching for solutions that would rid our crops of the pests that ravaged them year after year. We tried to smother the bugs by using ashes from burned wood and crafted various concoctions to spray the plants with. Most of the time our attempts failed, and so I learned early in life that to grow enough food we must somehow find a way to control the plant pests and viruses that routinely destroyed our crops and shrank our harvests.

Long before there were protesters, I was working on biotech solutions to the vexing local problems facing African farmers. Today, after years of research, we are well on our way to finding some of the answers. At home, I am engaged in field trials of sweet potatoes, an important staple in the African diet. These sweet potatoes have been modified to resist a plant virus that can decimate up to 80% of a farmer's crops. We have completed only the first of four trials, but thus far the results are encouraging. Potential benefits from this research include increasing sweet-potato yields enough to feed an additional 10 million hungry people and giving farmers bigger harvests without increasing their production costs, for a potential gain of $500 million per year in crop yields.

American protesters talk about how the new methods will wipe out traditional varieties. But let me tell you how it worked with sweet potatoes in Kenya. Researchers worked closely with farmers, allowing them to select the local variety they thought had the best taste, color and texture. That was the sweet potato into which we inserted the virus-resistant gene.

But, even as the science moves forward, the protesters try to push us back. I do believe they care, but they do not understand the hunger that grips millions of Africans and deprives malnourished children of the opportunity to grow up healthy and to achieve their full potential. For people in affluent countries, hunger is an abstract concept. For me, it is the affliction of a person I know. When I grew up, it was my brother and sister, my neighbor—in bad times, my entire village. It is still the face of the child at my feet.

There are those who say there is more than enough food in the world, and that the solution to ending hunger lies in redistributing surpluses to the people who need them. However well-meaning their intentions, they are wrong. Food aid is a temporary solution at best—and hardly a solution at all to the underlying causes of hunger and poverty. We have learned through many difficult years that if we can develop the means to maximize our agricultural productivity, we can both combat malnutrition and ignite an engine of economic growth. Biotechnology is one of the keys.

Biotechnology is also a solution for Africa because, unlike some other technologies, it is packaged in the seed. Even small-scale farmers can learn how to handle it and can share in its benefits. Such farmers lack the resources for the machinery and chemicals that revolutionized agriculture in the West years ago. This time we must not miss out.

And biotechnology can help Africans conserve our beautiful natural resources and protect our biodiversity. Instead of local varieties being lost to disease, they are being protected and conserved both in the field and in the laboratory. This same opportunity can extend to other African crops. And by using biotechnology to make lands low in nutrients, affected by drought or hampered by other conditions more productive, we can help slow the pressure to put remaining wilderness under cultivation, thereby protecting the plants and animals they house.

I'm not alone in my belief that biotechnology offers a solution to agricultural and food problems. In Western Europe, birthplace of the biotech protest movement, after an analysis of the scientific evidence from 81 research projects, the European Commission concluded that, "The use of more precise technology and the greater regulatory scrutiny probably make [biotech crops] even safer than conventional plants and foods."

And the United Nations Human Development Report 2001 unequivocally states that biotechnology offers "the hope of crops with higher yields, pest-and drought-resistant properties and superior nutritional characteristics—especially for farmers in ecological zones left behind by the green revolution." As a scientist working in biotechnology, and as an African, I know this to be true.

So, I say to the protesters: Be careful what you attack because you might be harming that which you profess to care about. As researchers, we are taught to ask many questions. I say to the protesters, ask many questions. But let the science and the data provide the answers. The farmers and hungry people of Africa need this technology.


Definitions
LAWYER, n.
One skilled in circumvention of the law.
LIAR, n.
A lawyer with a roving commission.
LITIGANT, n.
A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
LITIGATION, n.
A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
LOGIC, n.
The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion — thus:
Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore —
Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.
This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.
CORPORATION, n.
An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. 
source: The Devil's Dictionary. Ambrose Bierce 1911

Genetic coding of GMO Corn found in that of pigs that eat it.

Ethics

· Doing things of which we have no idea of the consequences

· Animal genes within plants are not labeled and against the dietary practices of vegetarians

· Pig genes within plants are not labeled and against the religious beliefs of Jews.

Duffy, M. Who Benefits from Biotechnology? Iowa State University. Presented at the American Seed Trade Association meeting December 5 -7, 2001, Chicago, IL http://mindfully/GE/GE3/Who-Benefits-From-Biotech.htm

References

Reference numbers are being absorbed into the document in order to make this more easily expanded as new information is available and time permits. It also reduces the size of this file by eliminating text from page's the code. Therefore, at this time, 71 is the first reference number.

 

 

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[73] Rainforest Action Network. Facts About Beef.
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[74] Horrigan, L., Lawrence, RS., Walker, P., How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture. Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future 9jul99

[75] Bedford, C., How Our food is Produced Matters! AWI Quarterly, Summer 1999

[76] Shiva, V. Genetically Engineered Vitamin 'A' Rice: A Blind Approach to Blindness Prevention. 14feb00
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[77] Genetically Engineered 'Golden Rice' is Fool's Gold. Greenpeace Press Release 9feb01
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Also see GE rice is fool's gold Greenpeace Press Release 9feb01
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[78] Brown, P. GM rice promoters 'have gone too far.' The Guardian (UK) 10feb01

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[79] Potrykus Responds to Greenpeace Criticism of 'Golden Rice' Ingo Potrykus < Potrykus@active.ch > 9feb01
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[80] Yu, H., Rohan, T. Role of the Insulin-Like Growth Factor Family in Cancer Development and Progression. J Natl Cancer Inst 2000; 92: 1472-1489 20sep00
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[81] Hansen, M., et al. Potential Public Health Impacts Of The Use Of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin In Dairy Production. Prepared for a Scientific Review by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives Sep97
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[82] Personal phone call to CBC in fall of 1997.

[83] IATP (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy) Bio/Technology/Diversity Week v.3, n.17, 26jul94

[84] Schneider, K. Lines Drawn in a War Over a Milk Hormone. New York Times 9mar94

[85] Kelly, J. Mega-farms, government agencies and the rich get bulk of federal farm aid. AP 9sep01
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[86] USDA, Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service. Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms: 2001 Family Farm Report. Robert A. Hoppe, editor. Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 768 May01
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[87] CBC News Online. What next for Percy Schmeiser? Canadian Broadcast Corporation 3apr01
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[88] Canola Spread Far and Near by Tornado: Concerns raised over unregulated spread of GM crops. CBC 8aug01

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE3/Canola-Tornado-CBC8aug01.htm

[89] Monsanto Tangles with more Canadian Farmers on Licensing. Canadian Press 19jul01
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[90] Pratt, S. Proposed GM lawsuit may stir major waves. Western Producer 18oct01
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[91] Benbrook, CM. Troubled Times Amid Commercial Success for Roundup Ready Soybeans: Glyphosate Efficacy is Slipping and Unstable Transgene Expression Erodes Plant Defenses and Yields. AgBioTech InfoNet Technical Paper n.4 3may01
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[92] Wertheim, M. Can Biology End World Hunger? LA Weekly 7jul00

[93] Altieri, M. Genetic Engineering in Agriculture: The Myths Environmental Risks and Alternatives. Food First Special Report n.1 Apr01
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[94] Benbrook, C. Do GM Crops Mean Less Pesticide Use? Pesticide Outlook Oct01
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[95] Pouteau, S. Beyond Substantial Equivalence: Ethical Equivalence. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 13: 273-291, 2000.
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[96] Brillat-Savarin, JA. Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante...Paris: Sautelet et Cie, 1826. Note: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) was a French lawyer and politician who achieved fame through a book, Physiologie du Gout. "You are what you eat comes from the quote by Brillat-Savarin "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."
http://www.bsjc.org/patron/index_e.html

[97] Ho, MW., Ryan, A. Transgenic DNA in Animal Feed. Critique of MAFF Report CS0116 Effect of feed processing conditions on DNA fragmentation. Institute of Science in Society and Department of Biological Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

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[98] Jahreis, G. Gene transfer from corn to chicken. Institut für Ernährungswissenschaften der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena 3nov00

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Corn-Chicken-Gene-Transfer.htm

[99] Tappeser, B. Genetic engineering and the production of foodstuffs: Biosafety Aspect. Presented at Discovery 98, international conference 28-30.9.1998, Kulmbach, Germany.

[100] Ewen, S., Pusztai, A. Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine. The Lancet V.354, N.9187 16oct99 http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Pusztai-Potatoes-Rat-Lancet.htm

[101] de Visser, AJC., Nijhuis, EH., van Elsas, JD., Dueck, TA. Crops of Uncertain Nature? Controversies and Knowledge Gaps Concerning Genetically Modified Crops: An Inventory. Plant Research International B.V., Wageningen (The Netherlands) 12aug00.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Knowledge-Gaps-Greenpeace-Wageningen.htm#summ

[102] New initiatives scale up supercomputing. Science News v.160, n.8 25aug01
http://www.sciencenews.org/20010825/toc.asp

[103] Associated Press. Tainted pigs show up in sausage at funeral. 3jun01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE2/Pig-Sausage-Funeral.htm

[104] Volunteer GM canola a problem: farmer Ian Bell / The Western Producer 6dec01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE3/Volunteer-GM-Canola6dec01.htm

[105] McGarity, T., Hansen, P. Breeding Distrust: An Assessment and Recommendations for Improving the Regulation of Plant Derived Genetically Modified Foods. University of Texas School of Law. Prepared for the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America. 11jan01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Breeding-Distrust.htm

[106] McGarity, T., Hansen, P. Breeding Distrust: An Assessment and Recommendations for Improving the Regulation of Plant Derived Genetically Modified Foods. University of Texas School of Law. Prepared for the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America. 11jan01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Breeding-Distrust.htm

[107] Pouteaua, S. Beyond Substantial Equivalence: Ethical Equivalence. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 13: 273-291, 2000.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Ethical-Equivalence-Pouteau.htm

[108] The Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities. Report of the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology. 5feb01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Royal-Society-Canada-Questions.htm

[109] Pusztai, A. Why I Cannot Remain Silent. Dr Pusztai talks to GM-FREE. GM-FREE v.1, n.3 Aug/Sep99

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Pusztai-Interview-GMFree.htm

[110] FDA Evaluation of Bioengineered Soybean and Corn Varieties. FDA Talk Paper 7oct96
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/FDA-Evaluation-Soy-Corn7oct96.htm

[111] Pollan, M. Playing God in the Garden. New York Times 25oct98
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Playing-God-Garden.htm

[112] Benbrook, C. (Benbrook Consulting Services, Sandpoint, Idaho) Evidence of the Magnitude and Consequences of the Roundup Ready Soybean Yield Drag from University-Based Varietal Trials in 1998. Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper n.1 13jul99
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[113] Pouteau, S. Beyond Substantial Equivalence: Ethical Equivalence. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 13: 273-291, 2000.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Ethical-Equivalence-Pouteau.htm

[114] Comments From FDA Compliance Officer About Federal Register document "Statement of Policy: Foods from Genetically Modified Plants" 8jan92
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Dr-Linda-Kahl-FDA.htm

[115] Soy Allergies Up Along With GMOs Mark Townsend / Daily Express 12mar 99
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Soy-Allergies-GMOs.htm

[116] Allergies to Transgenic Foods — Questions of Policy Editorial - New England Journal of Medicine 14mar96
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Allergies-Transgenic-Foods.htm

[117] EPA, NIH, and FDA seek allergenicity protocols to test and regulate genetically modified foods. Chemical & Engineering News 7jan02

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Allergenicity-Protocols-None.htm

[118] Van Wert, S. Manager, Regulatory Affairs – Biotechnology, AgrEvo USA. AgrEvo Response to EPA Background Document: Comments regarding the "Cry9C Food Allergenicity Assessment Background Document", the DERs cited in that document, and the July 15, 1999 Memorandum "Review of Additional Data from AgrEvo USA on the Cry9C Protein Expressed in Corn." EPA Registration Number 45639-221. 14dec01
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/cry9c/web%20letter%20-%20Cry9C%20html.html

[119] The FDA Enforcement Report. Published weekly by the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. It contains information on actions taken in connection with agency Regulatory activities.
http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html

[120] Engineered corn found in more tacos. AP 12oct00
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/More-Tacos.htm

[121] Shadid, A. Nearly 1/4 US maize contaminated with StarLink. Knight-Ridder Tribune 17may01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE2/StarLink-25percent-US.htm

[122] de Visser, AJC., Nijhuis, EH., van Elsas, JD., Dueck, TA. Crops of Uncertain Nature? Controversies and Knowledge Gaps Concerning Genetically Modified Crops: An Inventory. Plant Research International B.V., Wageningen (The Netherlands) 12aug00.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Knowledge-Gaps-Greenpeace-Wageningen.htm#summ

[123] Strohman, R. Crisis Position. Safe Food News 2000. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Strohman-Safe-Food.htm

[124] Muir, WM., Howard, RD. Possible ecological risks of transgenic organism release when transgenes affect mating success: Sexual selection and the Trojan gene hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences v.96, i,24 23nov99
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Trojan-Gene-Ecological-Risks.htm

[125] Kaufman, M. Salmon to Set Biotech Precedent: FDA must rule on whether gene-spliced fish can be eaten for dinner. Washington Post 17oct00

[126] Pribyl, LJ. Comments on FDA Biotechnology Draft Document. 27feb92

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Louis-J-Pribyl-Comments-27feb92.htm

[127] Presentation of Ignacio at "Apocalypse Now?" The Political and Cultural Economy of Agriculture Biotechnology and the Life Science Industries. A workshop at UC Berkeley 4-5 May 2001.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE2/Chapella-Apocalypse-Now.htm

[128] Lambrecht, B. Outgoing Secretary Says Agency's Top Issue is Genetically Modified Food. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 25jan01.
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Dan-Glickman-Outgoing.htm

[129] African Scientists Condemn advertisement campaign for Genetically Engineered Food. Call for European Support Gaia Foundation Press Release 3aug98
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/African-Condemn-Ads.htm

[130] Statement of the Catholic Bishops of South Africa. Genetically Modified Food: The Impending Disaster. 14nov01
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE3/Catholic-Bishops-Statement14nov01.htm

[131] Greenhouse, S. Nike Shoe Plant in Vietnam Is Called Unsafe for Workers. New York Times 8nov97
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[132] Lappé, F., Collins, J., and Rosset, P. World Hunger: 12 Myths. Grove Press 1998

[133] Rothschild, M. The Bell Tolls for the IMF, World Bank. The Progressive 12apr00
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[134] Fidel Castro, President of Cuba. Speech at the opening session of the South Summit. 12apr00
http://www.mindfully.org/WTO/Fidel-Castro-Speech-Summit12apr00.htm

[135] Afghanistan: IRIN interview with Amnesty International head. ISLAMABAD, 12dec01. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
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[136] BIO (Biotechnology Institute Organization). Your World: Biotechnology & You v.10, i.1 2001
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE2/Biotechnology-And-You.htm

[137] Klintberg, P. Out of Africa: Developing Countries Fear Europeans Will Thwart Biotech Solutions to Low Yields. Farm Journal Nov99

[138] The Revolving Door: US Government Workers & University Researchers Go Biotech and Back Again. A Question of Ethics.
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[139] Biotech Industry Born with Stolen Genetic Material From UCSF in 1978 Stolen Gene Haunts a Biotech Pioneer Justin Gills / Washington Post 17may99
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[140] Petit, CW. Novartis Buys UC Berkeley. US News and World Report 26oct98
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Novartis-Buys-UC-Berkeley.htm

 

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