Saturday, June 06, 2009
by David Barsamian and Vandana Shiva
Some say terrorism makes Gandhi irrelevant. Vandana Shiva, farmer, seed saver, and global justice activist, says we need him more than ever.
Gandhi’s three pillars of freedom are now the key to our survival
Vandana Shiva is an internationally-renowned voice for sustainable development and social justice. She spoke in New Delhi with David Barsamian, founder of Alternative Radio, during his December 2008 trip to India and Pakistan. Here are her thoughts on why Gandhi’s philosophy is still relevant—even in a world where terrorism is on the rise.
David: In the wake of the attacks on Mumbai in late November 2008, there was a piece in the Sunday Express, “The Irony Gandhiism Presents in Today’s Terror-Infested India.” The writer said, “It’s time the government became doubly stern about its steps to combat terrorism. India may be the land of Mahatma Gandhi, but today’s situation warrants crude and cunning ways to counter extremism. That alone can ensure peace, harmony, and joy in the country.”
Vandana: Unfortunately, “crude” means of dealing with violence and terror just breed more violence and terror. As we saw after 9/11, the war on terror has created more terrorists. I think anyone who says that Gandhi is irrelevant in today’s world doesn’t understand either terrorism, its roots, or Gandhi. Suicide bombers don’t get created out of the blue; they are created as a result of decisions, systems, and processes.
It’s very much like weeds in a field. One way to control weeds is by spraying Round-Up, but then you get Round-Up-resistant weeds, which are even stronger than the original weeds. That’s what is happening with terrorism.
Or you can do mixed cultivation, where the partnership among the plants controls the weeds by managing the sun in the right way, the moisture in the right way. Organic weed control is totally successful without using violence. The same happens in terrorism. We need to build the levels and kinds of relationships that allow communities to feel as one.
If you want to go beyond the symptoms, and you want to get to the roots, then you have to understand the patterns. The patterns are telling us that every kind of diversity is a potential source of conflict. How come?
If we’re going to live in a world beyond the financial crisis, we’d better start making things for ourselves, growing our food, making our homes, creating our education and health systems.
First, globalization has robbed people of their resources. Land has been enclosed, land has been taken over. You suddenly see conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, again linked to the way resource changes are taking place. In Kenya, ethnic conflicts took place after the elections. Before that, land use had changed to grow flowers and fruits and vegetables for export to the European markets.
The second issue is shrinking livelihoods, because that’s what globalization does when combined with electoral privilege. There are few sources of livelihoods, and these will be allocated based on which party gets into power and is able to offer privileges to their particular caste, religion, or ethnicity. That’s where violence is growing—that’s where terror is growing. We have to start sharing the resources of this Earth in more equitable ways, using it in more sustainable ways, and, most importantly, maximizing livelihoods in the economy rather than maximizing profits and GNP.
David: Explain about the Gujjars in Rajasthan.
Vandana: The Gujjars are a pastoral tribe in Rajasthan. Over the last few years, as part of globalization, the pastures have been enclosed. This land makes up about 70 percent of Rajasthan, which is a desert state where only about 30 percent is used for agriculture. The Rajasthan government passed a law making the pastures available to grow jatropha, a biofuel crop used for cars. As a result, the pastoral economy has absolutely gone. The Gujjars have lost their livelihood base. They came out in a very, very strong way, and they blocked the rails and roads of India for about two months. Parts of the country could not function, and the government was brought to its knees. All they were seeking was a few jobs, because they’ve lost their livelihoods in grazing.
Many of India’s districts are in revolt. Some of them are very organized. One-third of India is now under Naxalite [Maoist] control. These are largely the tribal districts and the districts where the largest amount of mining and industry is taking away forests and land from the tribals. Under the 73rd and 74th amendments of our Constitution, the tribals have a right to decide what happens with their land and resources. In the 1990s, the communities would decide not to allow these factories and mines, but their decision was not obeyed. Under the Constitution their decision was higher than the decision of the prime minister of this country. So the Constitution was violated to impose on the communities the factories, plants, and mines. When the people realized democracy was not working, they took to the gun.
My hope is that the revolt will be based on Gandhian principles and will demonstrate how we can continue to be a society based on nonviolence.
David: In your publication “The Seed and the Spinning Wheel” you say, “Gandhi lives as a perennial source of inspiration and political innovation to defend our freedoms.” Talk about Gandhi and his influence on you.
Vandana: The Gandhian influence, of course, has been an influence for every Indian. My parents were very active in the freedom movement, so Gandhi was a background influence, but not an influence guiding everyday action. That really was propelled by my waking up to the fact that a new world trading system was being shaped.
As I sat through a conference on biotechnology in Geneva in 1987 listening to the corporate agenda, it became clear to me that it was an agenda of total control. The farmers would depend on these companies for their seed supply. They would have to pay royalties to corporations like Monsanto for every seed they plant, in every season. Human beings would have no choice but to eat the food they brought us, with no way to choose an alternative. We have to do something that prevents this totalitarian future from becoming inevitable.
We just have to start sharing the resources of this Earth in more equitable ways, using it in more sustainable ways, and, most importantly, maximizing livelihoods in the economy rather than maximizing profits and GNP.
I thought of Gandhi pulling out the spinning wheel at a time that spinning wheels weren’t being used anymore because the British textile industry had absolutely wiped out Indian spinning and weaving. And I thought, what is today’s spinning wheel? Today’s industry is biotechnology: it’s controlling all life on Earth. Seed, therefore, quite clearly, has to be today’s spinning wheel. So I started to save seed—in a way, spinning our freedom for today.
But there are other elements of Gandhi’s work/life concepts that have very much shaped the struggles that have defended the freedom of farmers and freedom of food in India. The idea of swaraj, for instance. Swa means self, raj means to rule. Gandhi meant that every Indian is a free citizen, self-organizing, self-governing with a full sense of responsibility that comes from being part of a community, part of a country, part of the planet.
That concept of self-organizing is what we have used to build huge movements. Our movement for seed sovereignty is based on the concept of bija swaraj. Bija is seed, swaraj is self-governance. We’ve had actions where we’ve told the government, we’ve told the WTO, we’ve told the corporations that pirate our seeds that they don’t decide what happens to our biodiversity. We decide, because we are self-governing communities.
We’ve done that with water. New Delhi’s water was being privatized through the World Bank to Suez, the world’s biggest water multinational. We used the concept of jal swaraj, water freedom, to mobilize a movement for water democracy, and we succeeded in stopping this privatization.
But I think the highest concept that Gandhi has left us is satyagraha, the fight for truth, which is translated into civil disobedience. In his writings he says very clearly, “As long as the assumption is there that unjust law must be obeyed, so long will slavery exist.” It is the highest moral duty for justice to have the courage to say no to unjust law. That’s what Martin Luther King did. That’s what Gandhi did.
So how did we get to a place where a total financial scam around housing has brought the entire world economy down? Something is seriously wrong, and the only way we can get out of it is swadeshi, swaraj, and satyagraha. These are the three pillars of survival and these are the three pillars of freedom.
David: What does swadeshi mean?
Vandana: Swadeshi means self-making. In the name of progress, in the name of development, we have been made to walk down the road of depending. Today all of America depends on something made in a factory somewhere in China. That kind of economy prevents everyone from making what they could make. And you lose quality, because self-making builds in caring. Self-making goes with wanting to put out the ultimate quality. Just as much as when you cook your own food, you will make sure you cook a good dish. Sacrifice quality, and cheap becomes the label for humanity’s existence.
If we’re going to live in a world beyond the financial crisis, we’d better start doing things for ourselves, making things for ourselves, growing our food, making our homes, creating our education and health systems. Putting pressure on the state is fine, but ultimately I believe we need to go beyond the centralized state and centralized corporate control. We need to go into decentralized communities that reclaim the capacity to make. And that is swadeshi.
David: A couple of other terms that are associated with Gandhi are ahimsa and sarvodaya. What are they?
Vandana: Ahimsa is probably the most powerful word in Gandhi’s philosophy and in the core of Indian civilization. Ahimsa means nonviolence in the deepest form: doing no harm to any species, doing no harm to anyone, and doing no harm in thought and action. Gandhi said what you must challenge is the violent act, not the person. Always have love for the other person, and through that, practice compassionate nonviolence.
Sarvodaya means lifting up everyone. Gandhi had many, many clashes with other leaders of the Congress Party who wanted an India that would look like the West. But Gandhi knew that an India that looks like the West is for a tiny percentage of India. An India that’s for all, that is for the rising of all, must be based on the indigenous traditions, the indigenous possibilities, and must be ecological by its very nature, because wasteful development would rob a large part of India.
David: Gandhi appears on rupee notes, something that might have embarrassed him. There is hardly a town or city in this country that doesn’t have a statue of the Mahatma. But in terms of his relevance, when you travel around and talk to people, is the Gandhian philosophy still living or is it more of a memory?
Vandana: Gandhi is very alive in this country. The superficial display of consumerism might make it look like something else has replaced the Gandhian ideal of equality, justice, and dignity in work. If you’re at the Hyderabad Airport, you would never imagine Gandhi is relevant today, because they think they’re Americans now, and they serve you a coffee for 250 rupees.
I was in Gulbarga with farmers talking about the way out of the agrarian crisis. And, of course, I was sharing with this group of 1,500 farmers how the farmer suicides that are an epidemic in this country are unnecessary.
The wonderful thing was that the organization that was hosting it is based on an ancient, 800-year-old tradition called the Basava tradition. Basava was a royal who gave up the palace and based his entire philosophy on two core concepts: the dignity of labor and sharing your wealth.
Again and again on that platform, Gandhi’s teachings and Basava’s teachings were matched together as one teaching—a teaching for a socialism that will always be relevant, as long as human society exists.
David: You hosted a conference at the India International Center in early December. I was interested in a couple of things you said about India having a “violent economy.” Then you added, “farmer suicides are like terror attacks.”
Vandana: I think what we are witnessing in India is really warfare against the poor. It’s warfare against the poor because people are literally dying. More than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last decade of neoliberal agriculture policies—policies that tell you that agriculture is not about feeding people, agriculture is not about the livelihood of two-thirds of India’s population; agriculture is about producing cheap commodities for exports. And simultaneously, a total contradiction, that agriculture is about a consumer market for inputs. It’s an impossible equation, that you keep spending 10 times more for your seeds and your chemicals, and you keep getting less and less and less for what you produce. It does mean farmers will be wiped out. They get into debt and they’re committing suicide.
David: The cover of the latest issue of Bija says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Did Gandhi say that?
Vandana: Yes, I think it’s so powerful. I believe that so many of us wait for that perfect moment for a system change, at a system level. Yes, systems are wrong, but systems change doesn’t happen at a system level; it happens by enough people making change that they want to see. And that’s why, when I started Navdanya [an organization working to rejuvenate indigenous knowledge and culture], I didn’t wait for government policies to change. And at every point that government is obstinate and pro-Monsanto, we just keep doing what we feel is the right thing.
I have just come back from Kerala, where I’ve been advising the government there. They have a very progressive chief minister, V. S. Achuthanandan. He believes in people’s rights and a communitarian society. I had proposed an idea last year that Kerala is so rich in food traditions, in health traditions, that we should do a festival of food. And they did. And we did seminars. And he and I were there to open the festival called Onam. It happened in one place. Now three other states want to do it. That’s how we make change.
David Barsamian’s interview with Vandana Shiva is part of The New Economy, the Summer 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, scholar, political activist, and feminist, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize. She is also director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi. Author of many books, her latest are Earth Democracy and Soil Not Oil.
Since 1986, David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio has provided information, analysis, and views that are ignored or distorted in other media. This article comes from a longer interview, available at www.alternativeradio.org.
L’introduction du coton transgénique provoque la colère des paysans africains
La crise alimentaire de 2008 a relancé le débat sur les biotechnologies, censées accroître la productivité de l’agriculture africaine. Mais, comme leurs homologues altermondialistes occidentaux, les paysans du continent noir se méfient des conséquences sanitaires et sociales des organismes génétiquement modifiés. Le semencier américain Monsanto a donc décidé d’employer les grands moyens pour les imposer, avec l’aide du président burkinabé Blaise Compaoré. La résistance s’organise.
Par Françoise Gérard
Le Monde Diplomatique, Fevrier 2009
Petit Etat parmi les plus pauvres du monde, le Burkina Faso s’est discrètement lancé dans la culture des organismes génétiquement modifiés (OGM), en l’occurrence le coton Bt (1). Révélé au grand public en 2003, le partenariat de Ouagadougou avec le semencier américain Monsanto suscite d’autant plus la controverse parmi les paysans et les associations locales qu’il représente un test pour le développement des OGM dans toute l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Comment le Burkina Faso en est-il venu à travailler avec une entreprise célèbre pour son herbicide Roundup et son « agent orange » (2) ? La sacro-sainte « lutte contre la pauvreté » à laquelle les OGM apporteraient leur contribution en dynamisant l’agriculture burkinabé semble avoir bon dos, et les motivations réelles des partenaires commencent seulement à se faire jour sous la pression des associations...
C’est dans le plus grand secret que les premiers essais de coton Bt ont démarré au Burkina Faso, en 2001, en violation de la convention sur la diversité biologique de 1992 et le protocole de Carthagène sur la biosécurité de 2000. Ces traités internationaux stipulent que les pays concernés doivent se munir d’un cadre législatif et prendre les plus grandes précautions avant de commencer la culture d’OGM. En outre, les signataires s’engagent à informer la population des dangers et à ne prendre aucune décision sans une large concertation publique.
Pourtant, ce n’est qu’en 2003, lors d’un atelier sur la biosécurité à Ouagadougou, que la Ligue des consommateurs apprit l’existence de ces essais et divulgua ce que l’Institut de l’environnement et de la recherche agricole (Inera) avait dissimulé. Monsanto prétendit que les essais étaient effectués dans des « espaces confinés ». En réalité, il s’agissait de parcelles entourées de filets déchirés.
C’est donc « après coup » que le Burkina Faso se mit en règle, faisant ratifier par le Parlement, en avril 2006, le régime de sécurité en biotechnologie. Les soixante-quinze articles de cette loi auraient pu rassurer les opposants aux OGM, s’il n’était stipulé que son but est « de garantir la sécurité humaine, animale et végétale, et la protection de la diversité biologique et de l’environnement » (art. 22), l’Agence nationale pour la biosécurité (ANB) étant chargée de l’évaluation des risques. Or, d’après leurs opposants, c’est précisément parce que les risques sont incontrôlables que les cultures OGM sont contestées (3)...
Si Monsanto a choisi le Burkina Faso, c’est d’abord parce qu’il est le plus gros producteur de coton d’Afrique de l’Ouest, devant le Mali, le Bénin et la Côte d’Ivoire. En outre, sa situation géographique en fait le cheval de Troie des biotechnologies dans la région. Les frontières sont poreuses : on sait que les usines d’égrenage favorisent des échanges involontaires. La contamination « accidentelle » des plantes par les OGM profite aux firmes conquérantes, une plante contaminée ne pouvant revenir à son état antérieur et rien ne distinguant à l’œil nu une plante génétiquement modifiée d’une autre.
De plus, les contrôles techniques, très coûteux, ne sont pas à la portée des communautés rurales. Tout doucement, les OGM sont donc en train de s’imposer à l’insu des citoyens. Si le Bénin a renouvelé pour cinq ans un moratoire sur les OGM, le Mali vient de céder à la pression et d’autoriser les essais de coton Bt.
Le Burkina Faso était le maillon faible de la région : son président Blaise Compaoré cherchait à renouer avec la « communauté internationale » après avoir soutenu activement l’ancien président du Liberia, M. Charles Taylor (4), pendant la très meurtrière guerre civile dans les années 1990. Il était soupçonné d’avoir alimenté le trafic d’armes et de diamants dans la sous-région. En quelques années, son pays est devenu un élève modèle des institutions financières internationales et de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC). Le partenariat avec Monsanto a ainsi constitué un geste politique envers les Etats-Unis, très mécontents de l’attitude de M. Compaoré.
A partir de 2003, le ministre de l’agriculture Salif Diallo fit du coton OGM son cheval de bataille. L’Union nationale des producteurs de coton du Burkina (UNPCB), dirigée par M. François Traoré, après avoir manifesté ses inquiétudes, modifia ses positions en échange de 30 % des parts de la Société des fibres textiles (Sofitex), la principale société cotonnière burkinabé, privatisée à la demande de la Banque mondiale. Des paysans dissidents créèrent alors, en 2003, le Syndicat national des travailleurs de l’agropastoral (Syntap), farouchement opposé aux OGM. Un leader paysan, M. Ousmane Tiendrébéogo, s’insurge : « Chez nous, il n’y a que l’agriculture ; on n’a pas le droit de jouer à la roulette russe avec notre avenir. »
Face à l’UNPCB se trouvent trois sociétés cotonnières : la Sofitex, dans la région Ouest, la Société cotonnière du Gourma (Socoma, ex-Dagris), dans la région Est, et Faso Coton, dans la région Centre. Elles fixent avec l’UNPCB le prix annuel : 165 francs CFA (0,25 euro) le kilo de coton « premier choix » pour 2008. Elles fournissent — à crédit — les intrants, les insecticides et les herbicides nécessaires puis, quand la récolte est faite, viennent la collecter dans les champs pour l’amener à l’usine d’égrenage.
Cette « prise en charge » héritée du système colonial est à double tranchant, car elle ne laisse guère d’autonomie au producteur. Propriétaire de sa parcelle, il peut théoriquement abandonner le coton s’il estime le bénéfice insignifiant, et adopter une autre culture de rente, comme le sésame (5). Mais, en réalité, son endettement, son faible niveau d’instruction ainsi que les produits fournis par les sociétés cotonnières le rendent très dépendant du système. M. Yezuma Do, producteur, raconte : « Ils sont venus avec les autorités et les gendarmes pour nous dire que l’année prochaine nous ferons tous du Bt, parce que c’est mieux pour nous. Mais ils ne nous disent pas le prix des semences. Et si nous refusons, l’UNPCB nous prévient que nous ne pourrons pas égrener notre coton conventionnel dans la région. » De guerre lasse, M. Do envisage, avec de nombreux voisins, de renoncer à la culture du coton.
L’UNPCB et les sociétés cotonnières se sont constituées en Association interprofessionnelle du coton au Burkina (AICB). En concertation avec les chercheurs de l’Inera et Monsanto, l’AICB supervise la formation des techniciens et des producteurs. C’est elle qui fixera le prix de la semence Bt pour 2009... La boucle est bouclée. En 2008, douze mille hectares de coton Bt, type Bollgard II, ont été mis en culture afin de procurer les semences pour trois cent mille à quatre cent mille hectares, l’ANB ayant autorisé la production commerciale du coton Bt pour 2009.
Qu’en sera-t-il réellement ? Si la semence de coton conventionnel prélevée sur la récolte ne coûte que 900 francs CFA (1,37 euro) l’hectare, en revanche les droits de propriété intellectuelle (DPI) dus à Monsanto risquent de dépasser les 30 000 francs CFA (45 euros) à l’hectare (6). On se contente de rassurer les paysans en leur promettant que le prix n’excédera pas leurs moyens.
Un front anti-OGM
Un front anti-OGM rassemblant des associations s’est constitué : la Coalition pour la conservation du patrimoine génétique africain (Copagen). Des groupements de pays voisins en font partie (Bénin, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo et Sénégal). Bien que ses capacités financières soient restreintes, la Copagen a organisé en février 2007 une caravane à travers la sous-région afin de sensibiliser et d’informer les populations du danger qui les menace. Cette manifestation s’est achevée par une marche de protestation dans les rues de Ouagadougou. Sur les pancartes, on pouvait lire : « Non au diktat des multinationales » ; « Cultiver bio, c’est véritablement protéger notre environnement » ; « Les accords de partenariat économiques (7) et les OGM ne sont pas des solutions pour l’Afrique, ils sont même contre nous : stop-réfléchis-résiste ».
Un participant résumait ainsi le problème : « Si c’est ça les OGM, nous n’en voulons pas ! Est-ce que nos responsables travaillent vraiment pour notre bien ? Il faut dès à présent introduire partout l’information et la sensibilisation sur les OGM ; ils ne passeront jamais par l’Afrique... » Et de s’inquiéter des effets de la « propagande » des partisans du coton transgénique.
Il vrai que le front pro-OGM ne lésine pas sur la dépense, bénéficiant du soutien du gouvernement : conférences de presse, voyages d’études entièrement payés, sorties sur le terrain, films d’« information »... Les dépliants sur papier glacé de Monsanto décrivent un monde idyllique à l’aide des statistiques de l’Inera. Ils prétendent que les semences OGM Bollgard II apporteront : une augmentation moyenne de rendement de 45 %, une réduction des pesticides de six à deux passages, une réduction des coûts de 62 %, d’où une économie de 12 525 francs CFA par hectare (soit 20 euros) et, par conséquent, un bienfait pour la santé des cultivateurs et pour l’environnement.
Or rien ne paraît plus aléatoire que le « rendement moyen » dans un pays soumis à une pluviométrie capricieuse. S’il ne pleut pas, il arrive que les paysans soient obligés de procéder jusqu’à deux ou trois semis successifs. Lorsque le prix des semences est négligeable, il s’agit « seulement » d’un surcroît de travail. Mais, si on doit acquitter les DPI, à combien reviendra un hectare de coton ? En outre, il s’avère que le gène miraculeux reste sensible à la sècheresse et qu’il dégénère à mesure que la plante croît. Dernière déconvenue : lors d’un atelier animé par l’Union européenne auquel participait M. Traoré, on a enjoint aux producteurs de coton de garder un stock de pesticides de sécurité « au cas où ». Ce qui signifie que le recours aux produits chimiques ne diminue pas à coup sûr.
En effet, deux phénomènes peuvent se produire : l’apparition de chenilles résistantes au gène (en quatre ou cinq ans) et de ravageurs secondaires non maîtrisés par le gène. Les Etats-Unis et l’Inde ont été confrontés à ce problème. Curieusement, si le Comité consultatif international du coton (CCIC) (8), réuni à Ouagadougou du 17 au 21 novembre 2008, a vanté la réussite spectaculaire du coton Bt indien (six années consécutives de rendements croissants), aucune mention n’a été faite de la vague de suicides chez les petits producteurs ruinés par une production bien inférieure à ce qu’on leur avait fait miroiter.
Quant à la réduction des coûts, il est bien hasardeux d’avancer un chiffre alors que Monsanto garde jalousement le secret du prix des DPI, qui s’ajoutera à celui des intrants et des herbicides. A supposer que les rendements soient meilleurs (9), la différence ne permettra guère plus que d’éponger le surcoût des DPI.
L’argument auquel les cultivateurs sont le plus sensibles reste la diminution des pesticides que Monsanto fait miroiter. En effet, pendant les jours d’épandage, il est fréquent que les agriculteurs dorment dans leurs champs avec toute leur famille, s’exposant ainsi à la toxicité importante de ces produits. Or on peut utiliser un insecticide naturel tiré du margousier, un arbre courant en Afrique de l’Ouest. Un encadrement technique suffit, comme le montrent des expériences menées au Mali sur 10 % des surfaces cotonnières par la Compagnie malienne pour le développement des textiles (CMDT). En 2001, l’Organisation des Nations unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (FAO) a, de son côté, lancé un projet de gestion intégrée de la production et des déprédateurs (GIPD) visant à réduire, voire à supprimer, l’utilisation des pesticides. Cependant, rien n’est fait pour que ce programme GIPD dépasse le stade des essais pilotes. De plus, « l’UNPCB se comporte comme une milice au sein du monde paysan en renforçant la politique de la Sofitex qui nous impose des intrants et des insecticides, sans nous donner la possibilité de les refuser », proteste M. Do.
Parmi les solutions de rechange aux OGM, il existe le coton bio et équitable que l’association Helvetas a lancé au Mali en 2002, au Burkina Faso en 2004 : aucun produit chimique, fumure organique (gratuite), récolte de première qualité... Le sol se régénère au lieu de se dégrader. Le kilo de coton est payé 328 francs CFA (0,50 euro) au producteur, contre 165 francs CFA (0,25 euro) pour le coton conventionnel. La filière regroupe déjà quelque cinq mille petits producteurs sur environ sept mille hectares répartis sur les trois régions, Ouest, Centre et Est, du Burkina. Mais plusieurs facteurs semblent freiner son expansion : outre les interventions sonnantes et trébuchantes de Monsanto, allié aux institutions financières internationales, le transport du fumier organique nécessite un âne et une charrette. Rares sont les paysans qui disposent de ces moyens.
Selon M. Abdoulaye Ouédraogo, responsable de la filière coton à Helvetas Burkina, « ici, il n’y a pas d’avenir pour les OGM. D’abord pour des raisons climatiques. Ensuite parce que les petits producteurs n’appliqueront jamais les consignes. Ils se préoccupent d’abord de remplir les greniers pour nourrir la famille : le coton vient seulement après. Ce n’est pas comme aux Etats-Unis, où l’on pratique la monoculture à perte de vue... ».
L’acharnement pro-OGM s’explique alors non seulement par la volonté des transnationales, mais aussi par l’enrichissement qu’en retire une classe privilégiée au détriment de l’intérêt du pays.
First Jatropha Genome Completed by Synthetic Genomics Inc. and Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology
Partners Analyze Jatropha Genome and Associated Microbial Genomes to Understand and Improve Plant Yield and Health to Develop Renewable Fuels, Biofertlizers, and Disease Control Solutions
Jatropha Genome Represents Second Milestone Accomplishment for Partners who Announced Complete Oil Palm Genome Sequence in 2008
LA JOLLA, Calif. and KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately held company applying genomic-driven commercial solutions to address global issues, and Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology (ACGT), a company focused on the commercial application of genome technology to improve oil palm and other crops, today announced completion of a first draft, 10X assembly of the jatropha genome. The completed jatropha genome represents another significant milestone in the ongoing joint venture between ACGT and SGI announced in 2007. The partners previously announced completion of the oil palm genome in 2008. ACGT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asiatic Development Berhad, an oil palm plantation company and a member of the Genting Group.
ACGT and SGI have focused on Jatropha for several reasons: it is a tropical tree that is one of the highest yielding oilseed plants in the world; it can be grown on marginal, non-food producing lands; has a very short generation time; can be productive for 30 to 40 years; and its seed oil and biomass are ideal for biofuel production. Jatropha is a non-domesticated plant which makes it an ideal subject for genetically engineered improvements.
The sequencing of the genome, using both traditional Sanger sequencing and next generation sequencing, has revealed that the jatropha genome is approximately 400 million base pairs in size, similar to the size of the rice genome. The teams are now working on annotating the genome to identify particular genes of interest and to discover genetic variations for use in marker assisted breeding. The teams are also applying traditional breeding tools, as well as modern plant molecular biology tools, to improve plant yield, oil quality, fertilizer requirements and to enhance stress and disease tolerance.
ACGT and SGI have also been exploring the microbial life around the jatropha tree using environmental genomic techniques to sequence and analyze jatropha's root, soil and leaf bacterial and fungal communities. By understanding these environments SGI and ACGT will be able to develop diagnostic tests for plant diseases and agents for disease control, leading to healthier and more productive crops. These genomic solutions also allow for more efficient land usage with improved stewardship of the plantation environment.
"Having the sequenced genome of jatropha will enable us to develop new, sustainable energy feedstocks that grow on marginal land or in more arid climates and that do not compete with agriculture for food production," said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., founder and CEO of SGI. "SGI and ACGT will be hard at work on the next steps to use our methods to improve these oilseed crops so that we have higher yielding plants for biofuels, microbial fertilizers, and biologically-based disease control methods."
"The completion of the jatropha genome is yet another significant milestone for ACGT and SGI. It will accelerate our goal of commercially cultivating high-yielding jatropha for biodiesel production," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chief Executive of Asiatic Development Berhad.
About Synthetic Genomics Inc.
SGI, a privately held company founded in 2005, is dedicated to developing and commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global energy and environment challenges. Advances in synthetic genomics present limitless applications in a variety of product areas including: energy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The company's main research and business programs are focused on major bioenergy areas: designing advanced biofuels with superior properties compared to ethanol and biodiesel; harnessing photosynthetic organisms to produce value added products directly from sunlight and carbon dioxide; developing new biological solutions to increase production and/or recovery rates of subsurface hydrocarbons and developing high-yielding, more disease resistant and economic feedstocks. For more information go to www.syntheticgenomics.com
About Asiatic Development Berhad/ACGT
Asiatic Development Berhad ("Asiatic"), a 55%-owned subsidiary of Genting Berhad, commenced its operations in 1980 as the plantation arm of the Genting Group. Over the years, the Asiatic Group had embarked on several significant acquisitions in Malaysia, thus increasing its land bank from a mere 13,700 hectares in 1980 to nearly 66,000 hectares currently in line with its long term strategy, the Asiatic Group had, in June 2005, further expanded its operations to Indonesia, on a joint venture basis, to develop some 98,300 hectares. The Asiatic Group also owns 5 oil mills with a total milling capacity of 235 tonnes per hour and is reputed to be one of the lowest cost palm oil producers with fresh fruits bunches production of over one million tonnes. Asiatic is one of the early members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). For more information go to www.asiatic.com.my.
1 LITER OF BIODIESEL MADE FROM JATROPHA REQUIRES 20,000 LITERS OF WATER!
June 3rd, 2009
Biofuels carry a heavy water footprint, although the size of that print varies widely from crop to crop, according to new research from the Netherlands’ University of Twente.
Researchers at the university analysed 13 crops to determine the optimal production regions for each based on water consumption and climate date. Their goal was to make it easier to prevent biomass cultivation from jeopardising food production in regions where water is already in short supply.
The researchers found, for example, that it takes an average of 14,000 litres of water to produce one litre of biodiesel from rapeseed or soya. However, the water footprint for rapeseed in Western Europe is significantly smaller than in Asia. For soya, India has a large water footprint, while the figures for countries such as Italy and Paraguay are more favourable.
Jatropha, which is increasingly used for biomass production, has an even less favourable water footprint of 20,000 litres of water on average for one litre of biodiesel.
Using whole plants to generate bioelectricity, on the other hand, requires a smaller water footprint than using crops to make biofuels. Even then, however, crop footprints vary. For example, the researchers found that, when used for bioelectricity, sugar beet has by far the smallest water footprint, while jatropha is 10 times less water-efficient.
GMO wheat acceptance hinges on public benefit
By Rod Nickel
June 5 2009
* European consumer support for GMO a decade away
* Public must benefit to support GMO, not just farmers
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, June 5 (Reuters) - Winning over wary consumers in Europe and elsewhere to genetically modified wheat hinges on scientists finding a direct benefit to the public, not just to farmers or seed companies, experts in wheat breeding and genetics said.
Europeans, considered among the staunchest opponents of food created with genetically modified organisms (GMO), are at least a decade from accepting biotech food, said Meinolf Lindhauer from Germany's Max Rubner federal research institute of nutrition and food.
"The majority of consumers in many European countries, not in all, do not accept GMO at all," he said while attending the International Wheat Quality conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The only way for GMO wheat proponents to be heard above the arguments of anti-GMO groups is to demonstrate biotechnology could give consumers a "convincing advantage," he said.
One way might be modifying wheat so it could be eaten by people with celiac disease, a serious digestive condition caused by eating the protein gluten, he said.
In the long run, genetically modified wheat will be necessary to keep pace with corn and soybeans, said Robert Henry, director of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics in Lismore, Australia.
"In terms of the profitability for farmers to grow wheat versus maize, wheat has been left behind," he said. "My concern is that wheat is a very important food crop and at some point we need to correct that and produce more wheat."
Consumers support genetic modification to improve health, such as the production of drugs, but resistance is fixed on GMO food, Henry said.
"If the consumer perceives that the benefit is just for the producer or worse still, just for some big company that's making a profit out of it, why would they want to adopt it? They really need to be convinced there's some benefit for the environment from a point of view of their own health."
The sustainability of agriculture, considering growing per capita food consumption and limited arable land, will be central to the GMO wheat debate, Henry said.
The Canadian Wheat Board, one of the world's largest wheat marketers, has said it won't support GMO wheat unless it gains acceptance among world markets such as Europe and Japan. [ID:nN15274622]
Farm groups in the top wheat-exporting countries of Canada, the United States and Australia jointly called last month for commercial development of GMO wheat. Other farm and environment groups issued an opposing statement. [ID:nN14504499] [ID:nN01479359]
In 2004, Monsanto Co (MON.N) withdrew its application for a herbicide-resistant GMO wheat in the face of protest from U.S. wheat buyers and marketers such as the Canadian Wheat Board.
European consumers, especially those in Germany, Austria and France, are more likely to believe anti-GMO activist groups than scientists, Lindhauer said. Consumers and farmers in Australia are more open to genetically modified wheat than Europeans, but more wary than North Americans, Henry said.
In India, one of the developing countries driving higher food demand, farmers would support a GMO wheat modified to resist disease, said Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal of the Indian Institute of Technology in Uttarakhand, India. But Dhaliwal said consumers are harder to convince.
"(GMO wheat) would be the last choice," he said.
The public doesn't understand how fine the line is between widely accepted plant-breeding techniques and genetic modification, Henry said. GMO refers to DNA tinkering that scientists perform outside the cell, before putting the modified DNA back inside, he said. Rearranging DNA within the cell describes traditional plant-breeding, he said.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Consumers won’t accept GM wheat, says tri-national statement
By Caroline Scott-Thomas
June 2, 2009 , 02-Jun-2009
A group of organizations from the US, Canada and Australia has released a joint statement expressing their opposition to wheat industry plans to commercialize genetically modified (GM) wheat.
The group made its position known in response to a joint statement released last month by a group of wheat industry representative bodies that vowed to synchronize plans for the commercialization of GM wheat. There are currently no GM varieties of wheat commercially available.
The statement, “Definitive Global Rejection of Genetically Engineered Wheat”, centers on the lack of consumer acceptance for GM wheat, lack of agronomic benefits of existing GM crops, and disputes the idea that wheat is less favored by farmers than GM crops.
“Locally-bred varieties are critical to ensuring local food supplies during times of weather-related disasters,” the statement reads. “In Australia, Canada, and the US, farmers and public scientists have worked collectively with this diversity to develop varieties adapted to local conditions and suited to relevant markets. Multinational seed companies have played an insignificant role in fundamental wheat seed development in these countries or anywhere else in the world.”
It says that introduction of GM wheat would put the seed supply in the hands of a small number of powerful companies and that cross-contamination from GM wheat could threaten the survival of varieties bred for local conditions.
Losing out to GM?
A key argument in last month’s wheat industry statement was that acreage planted to wheat was in decline as arable farmers turn to other grains with “the advantages of biotech traits.”
But this latest tri-national statement said that Canadian farmers are moving away from GM crops because of higher production costs.
It said: “A March 2009 Statistics Canada survey of farmers in western Canada found that farmers plan to increase acreage of wheat, barley and peas, crops for which there are no GE varieties and where plant breeding is primarily in the public sector.”
The statement echoes – but goes further than – the standpoint of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) which refused to sign the industry’s collaborative statement last month on the grounds that there is too much consumer resistance to GM wheat to make its introduction feasible at present. CWB, which sells wheat and barley in Western Canada, was also strongly opposed to the introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready wheat in 2004.
Unlike the signatories to the anti-GM statement, however, CWB is working to gain greater consumer acceptance of GM wheat.
US signatories to the GM rejection statement are Center for Food Safety, National Family Farm Coalition, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Organic Consumers Association.
Canadian signatories are National Farmers Union, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Union Paysanne, Union Biologique Paysanne, Réseau Québécois contre les OGM, and Saskatchewan Organic Directorate.
And Australian signatories are the Network of Concerned Farmers,
Organic Federation of Australia, Biological Farmers of Australia, and
Gene Ethics. International organization Greenpeace also signed the statement.
Farm groups counter call for GMO wheat
Mon Jun 1, 2009
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Farm and environment groups opposed to genetically modified wheat are countering a call from other farm organizations for biotech companies to commercially develop it.
Fifteen groups in the top wheat-exporting countries of Canada, the U.S. and Australia released a joint statement of opposition to GMO wheat on Monday. It follows the May 14 call by GM wheat supporters in the three countries for synchronized production of GM wheat.
"Genetic engineering for wheat would be a calamity for all wheat farmers," said Julie Newman, a member of the Network of Concerned Farmers in Australia. "Consumers across the world have already rejected the idea of GE wheat."
Monsanto Co shelved plans for a herbicide-tolerant GMO wheat in 2004 in the face of opposition from U.S. wheat buyers, farmers and exporters such as the Canadian Wheat Board that feared a loss of overseas customers. Major export markets in Europe and Asia are particularly sensitive to concerns about GM food.
The farm groups' main concern is that loss of markets will hurt prices for farmers, said Katherine Ozer, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based National Family Farm Coalition.
"If (genetically engineered) wheat is released commercially, contamination would be inevitable and markets would view all wheat produced from these areas as GE unless proven to be non-GE," the groups stated. "Farmers growing GE wheat will take on all of the responsibilities, costs and liabilities, with little available legal recourse to recover their losses."
Other groups signing the statement include the National Farmers Union, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, the Organic Federation of Australia, Biological Farmers of Australia, Greenpeace and the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association.
Farmers who support development of GMO wheat say genetic engineering would help wheat stay competitive with other key crops like corn, soybeans and canola that have GM seed options. But GMO opponents counter that unlike GMO crops grown primarily for feed, oil and fiber, wheat is mainly used for human consumption and would be subject to labeling requirements in many countries.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by John Picinich)
Big three unite over GM wheat release
A JOINT statement has been issued by wheat grower groups in Australia, Canada and the US expressing their desire to synchronise the release of biotechnology for wheat.
The statement said it was in the best interests of all three countries to introduce wheat biotechnology in a coordinated fashion, to minimise market disruption.
The statement will send a common message to wheat export markets and wheat biotechnology providers, informing them about farmers' willingness to work with them collectively to develop the technology.
The announcement also expressed a shared view on wheat biotechnology principles, highlighting the importance of wheat to the food supply chain.
It also highlighted the declining area of crop being planted in all the signatory countries, due in part to competition for wheat from other competing crops such as corn, canola and soybean crops, which already benefit from the use of biotechnology traits.
The Australian signatories were the Grains Council of Australia, the Grain Growers Association and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA (PGA).
The joint statement also said none of the groups would hold a veto over the actions of the others.
PGA grains policy director Sheldon Mumby said the PGA was happy to be part of the joint statement, saying it was a positive step for wheat growers.
"The PGA was happy to put our name to the joint statement because it is supportive of the substantial benefits that genetically modified plants can bring to the grains industry," he said.
It is understood other farm lobby groups in Australia, including WAFarmers and the Victorian Farmers Federation, were invited to sign the trilateral statement but were unable to respond by the deadline for the statement's release.
A WAFarmers spokesperson said it supported the development of GM wheat and understood the technology would need to go through an education process, leading up to its release.
Blé OGM: la bataille reprend
par Annie Morin
3 juin 2009
Québec) Des organismes génétiquement modifiés (OGM) dans le pain, les pâtes alimentaires et le couscous? Des producteurs et des transformateurs de blé du Canada, des États-Unis et de l'Australie estiment que c'est la voie de l'avenir et réclament le développement de variétés transgéniques, actuellement interdites partout dans le monde. Des regroupements d'agriculteurs et des groupes écologistes s'y objectent vertement.
Il y a cinq ans, presque jour pour jour, Monsanto retirait sa demande d'homologation du blé Roundup Ready, capable de résister à l'herbicide le plus utilisé dans le monde, et abandonnait toute recherche portant spécifiquement sur cette céréale, arguant qu'elle n'était pas commercialement rentable. Les groupes de défense des agriculteurs, des consommateurs et de l'environnement défavorables aux OGM avaient crié victoire et croyaient l'histoire du blé transgénique terminée. Mais ce n'était que la fin d'un chapitre...
À la mi-mai, neuf groupes réunissant producteurs de blé, meuneries et agences de promotion du blé du Canada, des États-Unis et de l'Australie ont publié une déclaration conjointe dans laquelle ils font l'apologie des biotechnologies agricoles, plaident pour une reprise de la recherche privée et s'engagent à commercialiser les OGM de façon coordonnée. Aucun des trois pays, parmi les principaux exportateurs de blé sur la planète, n'irait de l'avant sans ses acolytes et sans une surveillance serrée des nouvelles cultures.
«On ne dit pas qu'on est en faveur d'une mise en marché [release] immédiate, mais qu'il faut y regarder de près parce que notre retard sera difficile à rattraper dans quelques années», a expliqué hier Doug Robertson, président des Producteurs de grains du Canada.
Les agriculteurs sont particulièrement intéressés à des variétés résistantes aux maladies - comme la fusariose du blé, répandue partout au Canada - ou capables de pousser dans le froid ou la sécheresse. Cela afin d'améliorer leurs rendements, qui connaissent une faible croissance depuis plusieurs années. L'industrie de la transformation agroalimentaire est plutôt à la recherche d'un blé sans gluten pour accommoder les allergiques.
Cet appel ne laisse pas les grands semenciers indifférents. Trish Jordan, porte-parole de Monsanto Canada, affirme que son employeur écoute «avec attention» les voeux des producteurs et pourrait «réintégrer le marché du blé si les conditions étaient bonnes». «Du strict point de vue de la commercialisation, personne n'est proche du but», ajoute-t-elle cependant, évoquant un horizon de recherche de «8 à 10 ans minimum».
Santé Canada a confirmé hier qu'aucune demande d'homologation de blé OGM n'avait été déposée depuis 2004.
Éric Darier, directeur de Greenpeace au Québec, oppose un non catégorique à la commercialisation du blé transgénique. «Dans notre culture occidentale, le blé est très symbolique. C'est le pain qu'on met sur la table tous les jours, les pâtes alimentaires pour les Italiens, le couscous pour les Arabes. Il est consommé directement par les humains, contrairement au canola et au maïs génétiquement modifiés qui servent à l'alimentation animale», rappelle-t-il.
Greenpeace fait partie de la quinzaine de signataires (du Canada, des États-Unis et de l'Australie) de la déclaration contre le blé OGM, rendue publique hier. Le document réaffirme le caractère sacré de la céréale et condamne toute manipulation transgénique, soutenant que les méthodes d'amélioration traditionnelles sont tout aussi efficaces. Les anti-OGM du monde entier sont invités à signer la déclaration d'ici le 31 août.
En 2004, la Commission canadienne du blé s'était rangée du côté des activistes, craignant que le blé Roundup Ready ne précipite la résistance des mauvaises herbes à l'herbicide et que les clients internationaux ne se détournent du blé canadien de crainte d'y trouver des OGM. Hier, Rhéal Cenerini, conseiller en relations gouvernementales, a expliqué que la position de l'organisme de commercialisation n'avait pas changé : «On ne s'oppose pas au produit en tant que tel, mais il faut qu'il y ait des bénéfices pour les producteurs et il faut s'assurer d'avoir l'appui des consommateurs.»
Le fait que le blé entre dans la fabrication d'une multitude de produits alimentaires et qu'il est cultivé sur de très grandes superficies oblige à la prudence, ajoute M. Cenerini. La commercialisation simultanée d'un blé génétiquement modifié au Canada, aux États-Unis et en Australie placerait plusieurs pays importateurs devant le fait accompli. Sans compter que les agriculteurs, dont les rendements pourraient augmenter, seraient dans l'interdiction de replanter leurs propres grains et devraient payer des redevances aux semenciers.
Pro-GMO industry stakeholders held a three-day conference in Uganda from 19-21 May to discuss and plan strategies to mass-produce GM crops in Africa.
The conference - Delivering Agricultural Biotechnology to African Farmers: Linking Economic Research to Decision Making - was organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in collaboration with the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and the Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, financed by the Pro-GMO industry Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (i.e. Rockfeller Foundation, USAID, Monsanto, Syngenta, Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, etc.)
The (official) stated mission of the IFPRI is seeking “sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty.”
"In the coming years, growing populations, stagnating agricultural productivity, and increasing climate change will make it even more difficult for Africa to tackle poverty, hunger and malnutrition," said Mark Rosegrant, director of IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology Division.
"To confront these challenges, many African countries are increasingly assessing a range of tools and technologies, including agricultural biotechnologies, which hold great promise for improving crop yields, household incomes, and the nutritional quality of food in an environmentally sustainable way."
Scientific report proves that GMO's have failed to increase crop yields and "cannot feed the world & end hunger"
However, a recently published independent scientific research reports ( which was conveniently & carefully ignored during the conference) clearly demonstrates that GMO’s have consistently failed to increase crop yield over the last two decade and thus cannot “feed the world and fight hunger”, contrary to the deceitful rhetoric preached by Mark Rosegrant and the GMO industry.
The report states: “For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.”
Full report canbe read at: www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/failure-to-yield.html
Scientific report proves direct link between GMO's and adverse human-health
Moreover, another recently published scientific report (again carefully and conveniently ignored at the conference) clearly indicates that GMO foods have adverse consequences on human health. The report clearly states that “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill's Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility.5 The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.
Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”
The scientific findings and conclusions of both these reports directly contradict the deceitful statement and claims made by Mark Rosegrant that agricultural biotechnlogies (GMO’s) “ hold great promise for improving crop yields, household incomes, and the nutritional quality of food in an environmentally sustainable way."
Full report can be read at: www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html
The REAL (hidden) geopolitical agenda of GMO mass production in Africa
The REAL (hidden) geopolitical agenda behind the (fraudulent) mass introduction of GMO’s in Africa is the total control of the food chain in Africa and around the world through genetic contamination and patenting of traditional seeds and the use of "Terminator" seeds which have been genetically modified to render seeds sterile after harvest, to serve the genocidal geopolitical agenda of the US ( i.e genocide of African population through mass starvation (eugenism), confiscation and privatization of land from smallholders to produce biofuels ( instead of food crops), looting of agricultural, oil & mineral resources from Africa, etc. ( see Henry Kissinger’s 1974 National Security Memorandum 200 ( NSSM200).
“Control oil and you control nations.
Control food and you control people.”
GMO’s are the biggest threath to Africa & to Humanity as a whole and will result in the biggest economic, social and ecological GENOCIDE of Africa, of humanity and of the Earth.
To learn about the TRUE objectives and the REAL impacts and dangers of GMO’s in Africa and around the world, I invite you to read the articles and to view the documentary videos published on this blog. You can, of course, also carry out your own research on the subject.
See also the following excellent articles which explain the REAl HIDDEN geopolitical agenda of the US and its genocidal partners ( US AID, Rockfeller Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Monsanto, Syngenta, etc.).
"Doomsday Seed Vault" in the Arctic
Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t
by F. William Engdahl
article link: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7529
Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (Excellent book on the geopolitics of GMO's) See review below.
Review of F. William Engdahl's book published by Global Research
by Arun Shrivastava
article link: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9379
Global Research, June 19, 2008
Last three or four years have seen a number of books, documentaries and articles on the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds. Majority has focused on adverse health and environmental impact; almost none on the geopolitics of GM seeds, and particularly seeds as a weapon of mass destruction. Engdahl has addressed this issue but the crop seed is one of the many "Seeds of Destruction" in this book.
Engdahl carefully documents how the intellectual foundations of 'eugenics,' mass culling of the sick, coloured, and otherwise disposable races, were actually first established, and even legally approved, in the United States. Eugenics research was financially supported by the Rockefeller and other elite families and first tested on Jews under Nazi Germany.
It is purely by chance that world's poorest nations also happen to be best endowed with natural resources. These regions are also the ones with growing population. The fear among European ruling families, increasingly, integrating with economic and military might of the United States, was that if the poor nations became developed, the abundant natural resources, especially oil, gas, and strategic minerals and metals, may become scarcer for the white population. That situation was unacceptable to the white ruling elite.
The central question that dominated the minds of the ruling clique was population reduction in resource rich countries but the question was how to engineer mass culling all over the world without generating powerful backlash as it was bound to happen. When the US oil reserves peaked in 1972 and it became a net oil importer, the situation became alarming and the agenda took the centre stage. Kissinger, one of the key strategists of Nixon, nurtured by the Rockefellers, prepared what is known as National Security Study Memo (NSSM200), in which he elaborated his plan for population reduction. In this Memo he specifically targets thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and The Phillipines.
The weapon to be used was food; even if there was a famine food would be used to leverage population reduction. Kissinger is on record for stating, "Control oil, you control nations; control food and you control the people." How a small group of key people transformed the elitist philosophy, of controlling food to control people, into realistic operational possibility within a short time is the backdrop of Engdahl's book, the central theme running from the beginning till the end with the Rockefellers and Kissinger, among others, as the key dramatis personae.
He describes how the Rockefellers guided the US agriculture policy, used their powerful tax-free foundations worldwide to train an army of bright young scientists in hitherto unknown field of microbiology. He traces how the field of Eugenics was renamed "genetics" to make it more acceptable and also to hide the real purpose. Through incremental strategic adjustments within a handful of chemical, food and seed corporations, ably supported by the key persons in key departments of the US Government, behemoths were created that could re-write the regulatory framework in nearly every country. And these seeds of destruction of carefully constructed regulatory framework- to protect the environment and human health- were sown back in the 1920s.
Pause to think: a normal healthy person can at the most go without food for perhaps seven days but it takes a full season, say around four months, for a seed to grow into food crop. Just five agri-biz corporations, all US based (Cargill, Bunge, Archer Daniels, et al), control global grain trade, and just five control global trade in seeds. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and Dow Chemicals control genetically engineered seeds. While these powerful oligopolies were being knocked into place, anti-trust laws were diluted to exempt these firms. Engdahl writes, "It was not surprising that the Pentagon's National Defense University, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, issued a paper declaring: 'Agribiz is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East.' Agribusiness had become a strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world's only superpower." (page 143)
The "Green Revolution" was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil and gas based agriculture inputs in which Rockefeller's had main interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. (See my notes, Box 1)
It is true that initially Green Revolution technologies led to spurt in farm productivity but at a huge cost of destruction of farmlands, bio-diversity, poisoned aquifers and progressively poor health of the people and was the true agenda of 'the proponents of Green Revolution.'
The real impetus came with the technological possibility of gene splicing and insertion of specific traits into unrelated species. Life forms could be altered. But until 1979, the US Government had steadfastly refused to grant patent on life form. That was changed [my comment: helped much by a favorable judgment in the US Supreme Court granting patent protection to oil eating bacteria developed by Dr Ananda Chakraborty]. Life forms could now be patented. To ensure that the world surrendered to the patent regime of the seeds corporations, the World Trade Organization was knocked into shape. How it conducted business was nobody's business, but it forced the world to accept intellectual property right of these corporations. There is opposition but these firms are too determined as Engdahl describes.
"The clear strategy of Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and the Washington Government backing them was to introduce the GMO seeds in every corner of the globe, with priority on defenceless …..African and developing countries," write Engdahl (page 270). However, Engdahl also describes how US and Canadian farmlands came under GMOs. It was suspected that GMO could pose serious threat to human and animal health and the environment, yet efforts at independent biosafety assessment were discontinued. Scientists carrying out honest studies were vilified. Reputed scientific establishments were silenced or made to toe the line that was supportive of the Rockefeller's food control and mass culling agenda. The destruction of the credibility of scientific institution is yet another seed of destruction in Engdahl's book.
Engdahl cites the example of a German farmer Gottfried Glockner's experience with GM corn. Glockner planted Bt176 event of Syngenta essentially as feed for his cows. Being a scientist, he started with 10% GM feed and gradually increased the proportion, carefully noting milk yield and any side effects. Nothing much happened in the first three years but when he increased the feed to 100% GM feed, his animals "were having gluey-white feaces and violent diarrhea" and "milk contained blood." Eventually all his seventy cows died. Prof Angelika Hilbeck of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found from Glockner's Bt 176 corn samples Bt toxins were present "in active form and extremely stable." The cows died of high dose of toxins. Not if, but when human food is 100% contaminated should be a sobering thought.
In the US unlabelled GM foods were introduced in 1993 and that 70% of the supermarket foods contain GMOs in varying proportions in what should rightly be called world's largest biological experiment on humans. While Engdahl has clearly stated that the thrust of US Government and the agi-biz is control over food especially in the third world, he has left it to the readers to deduce that American and European citizens are also target of that grand agenda. And there are more lethal weapons in the arsenal: Terminator seeds, Traitor seeds,( seeds that have been genetically modified to become sterile after harvest, thereby forcing farmers around the world to purchase their seeds from biotech companies year after year...) and the ability to destroy small independent farmers at will in any part of the world, and these are powerfully presented in the book. Engdahl provides hard evidences for these seeds of final destruction and utter decimation of world civilizations as we have known.
It is a complex but highly readable book. It is divided into five parts, each containing two to four short chapters. The first part deals with the political maneuverings to ensure support to Seed and Agri-biz firms, the second deals with what should be widely known as 'The Rockefeller Plan', the third deals with how vertically integrated giants were readied for Washington's silent wars on planet earth, the fourth part deals with how GM seeds were unleashed on unsuspecting farmers, and the final part deals with how the elites is going on destroying food, farmers that would eventually cause mass culling of population. He does not offer any solution; he can't because it is up to the rest of the world, including Europeans and Americans, to wake up and take on these criminals head on. An essential read for anyone who eats and thinks.
To order the book: www.globalresearch.ca