By Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

On October 25, 2010, the ETC Group issued a report titled “Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops.” It seems that the biotech giants along with Bill and Melinda Gates, are teaming up once again to force genetically modified (GM) crops down the world’s throat, and Africa is high on the list of targeted countries.

Download the PDF HERE: Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops in Bid to Become Biomassters

To gain desperately needed moral legitimacy, Gene Giants like Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont are forging high-profile partnerships with public sector institutions that aim to deliver proprietary technologies to resource-poor farmers.

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

Not surprisingly, the Gates foundation has invested heavily in the biggest gene giant, Monsanto. “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s investment portfolio includes 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010” (Farm Wars).

The immediate impact of these partnerships is to enhance the public image of Gene Giants that are donating royalty-free genes to needy farmers. But the longer-term goal is to create the “enabling environments” (biosafety regulations, intellectual property laws, positive media coverage to promote public acceptance) that will support the market introduction of genetically engineered crops and related technologies. It’s a package deal – wrapped in a philanthropic façade – and it comes with strings attached…

“What we need in order to effectively contribute…are enabling business environments.” – Gerald Steiner, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Monsanto Company, testifying before the U.S. Congress, July 2010…

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

And “enabling business environments” are what these future “Biomassters” intend on achieving any way they can by creating and partnering with organizations such as the pro-GM Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to spread biotech crops and the control that goes with them through technology giveaways designed to open the door to a complete takeover of the food supply. 

The AATF is one of the primary deal-brokers in the South. Launched in 2003, AATF is a non-profit organization that promotes public/private partnerships to ensure that resource-poor African farmers have royalty-free access to proprietary agricultural technologies that improve their productivity. Start-up funds were provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID)…

AATF plays a major role in promoting and facilitating regulatory frameworks, by influencing public opinion and “overcoming the misconceptions about genetically modified organisms that slow down the adoption of biotechnology products” in Africa.

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

The AATF, in its bid to flood Africa with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), has developed a project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA).

Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) is one of AATF’s five projects. The public/private partnership involves Monsanto; BASF; the CGIAR’s flagship research center – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); and national agricultural research systems in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Launched in 2008 with $47 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation,

WEMA’s goal is to develop new drought-tolerant maize varieties that are adapted to African agro-ecologies using conventional breeding as well as transgenics. In addition to proprietary germplasm, advanced breeding tools and expertise, Monsanto and BASF announced in March 2008 the donation of royalty-free drought-tolerant transgenes – “the same water-use efficiency genes being developed for commercial global markets.” Monsanto describes its donation as a “gem” in its technology pipeline and predicts it could result in new white maize varieties that increase yields 20-35 percent during moderate drought.

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

The AATF has another project involving drought-tolerant rice:

Another AATF project related to climate-ready crops seeks to develop rice varieties suitable for soils that are low in nitrogen, and for drought and saline tolerance. The project claims that rice varieties with these traits will help African farmers increase yields by up to 30%. Partners include U.S. AID, Arcadia Biosciences (USA), National Agricultural Research Systems in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Colombia), and PIPRA (USA). Arcadia will provide a technology license to make the new rice varieties royalty-free to smallholder African farmers.

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

Add to this, the benevolence of Mars, IBM, the USDA, and the genetically modified cocoa targeted for Ghana. The gene sequence necessary to develop GM cocoa has been unlocked and these companies have generously placed it in the public domain.

Cocoa is grown principally in West Africa, Central and South America and Asia. In order of annual production size, the eight largest cocoa-producing countries at present are Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador and Malaysia. These countries represent 90% of world production. (UNTAD)

Philanthropy, or subterfuge?

“In a desperate bid for moral legitimacy and to try to ease public acceptance of genetically modified crops, the Gene Giants have donated a few proprietary crop genes to poor farmers in Africa,” explains Ribeiro.

“The quid pro quo is that South governments must facilitate market access for genetically modified crops and embrace biotech-friendly patent laws. It’s an unacceptable trade-off. In exchange for untested technologies, South governments are being pressured to surrender national sovereignty over intellectual property, biomass, and food,” she warned. (ETC)

So there it is, folks. The bait and switch routine, GM style. Give poor farmers some free technology in return for softening up the biotech patent laws in that country, then slam them with a food and land grab the likes of which we have never seen.

In return for the surrender of national sovereignty over intellectual property, biomass, and national food security the Gene Giants are offering to “donate” proprietary genes (for untested and unproven technologies) to resource poor farmers.

(Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-ready” Crops”)

The solution to world hunger and drought is not the enslavement of farmers to a world food monopoly created and controlled by a few multinational giants. This is not freedom, but tyranny on a world-wide scale. The biotech invasion of Africa is not for the benefit of the African people, but for the benefit of a few biopirates masquerading as philanthropists.

After researching the pros and cons of growing bioengineered seeds in Africa, we came to the conclusion that our hypotheses were correct. It is true that GMOs are resistant to some types of disease; that they can be engineered to grow larger than their unmodified counterparts; that some are resistant large applications of pesticides. But as we’ve mentioned, the possible loss of biodiversity and the health risks could cause undue strain on Africans and the rest of the world. Bioengineered seeds would make it harder for Africans to compete in the global market, and create a dependency they can ill afford. Social and political health will be affected by all of these issues. The connections between all of these factors cannot be ignored. It is better to err on the side of caution, rather than exposing a developing continent to more problems. (University of Michigan)

What we need to do is redesign our food supply system from an import-based WTO CODEX system, which forces acceptance of the unacceptable, into a locally-grown, inter-connected web of people sharing seeds and techniques with each other. This starts with one person, saving seeds, planting a garden, teaching others to do the same, and spreading the word. Like the small seed that turns into a tall tree, we can do this, but we must start now. We must maintain strongholds of clean, organic seeds, because without individual seed stockpiles, we might just run out, and end up succumbing to the likes of Monsanto and its partner in crime, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

© 2010 Barbara H. Peterson

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2 Responses to “Africa, Chocolate, Bill Gates, Monsanto, and the Genetically Modified Land Grab”

  1. John Webb says:

    I can take crooked judges, police, and legislators. What I can’t take is a press that is totally controlled by the New World Order. If the truth cannot be made known, then all efforts are in vain.

  2. Brother Seken says:

    Question:

    Wot living entity(s) entire existance depends upon ‘INVASION’?

    Answer(s):

    Well. There are 2 I can think of.
    If we look at History for example, we will note that certain types of Humans invaded everywhere that was worth invading around the globe, then they had audacity to display the spoils in museums, and perpetuate their invaded (stolen) legacy in the classroom.
    The second is litterally: DISEASE! SICKNESS!

    Both entities behave exactly like one another.

    How dare they suggest that Africa can benefit from GM foods, then try to fool the whole world they’re doing Africa a favor…..