+ BRINGING DEATH TO MILLIONS: THE G8
John Pilger explains why Tony Blair's "vision for Africa" is patronising, exploitative, and will cause even more deaths and suffering.
+ AFRICAN CONSUMERS NEED FOOD SECURITY, NOT GMOs
In the run-up to the G8 meeting (6-8 July 2005) Consumers International (CI) is calling for food security in Africa, not GM food. Biotech corporations and some governments are trying to promote GM crops as miracle solutions to world hunger and malnutrition. However, there is no evidence that GM crops will solve world hunger and the claims made by biotech companies are detracting attention from real causes of hunger in Africa.
+ AFRICA AND THE G8 - IMPORTANT SIGN-ON STATEMENT
A coalition of grassroots African NGOs have written a statement to the leaders of the G8 requesting that world leaders and development partners take actions that will genuinely help the people of Africa. YOU CAN SIGN-ON TO THIS STATEMENT at
+ HUNGRY FOR AN ALTERNATIVE - TEWOLDE INTERVIEW
In an interview with the UK Independent newspaper, Tewolde Berhan, the director general of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia, says that organic farming is the only real solution to famine in Africa.
+ AFRICA YES! FLO NO!
Nothing could better symbolise the "GM to save the world" confidence trick than the rise and rise of Dr Florence (Flo) Wambugu.
The science journal Nature is calling on the G8 leaders to listen to Wambugu, among a number of other African scientists, so that they can learn the strategies that should shape the future deveopment of Africa.
In case you are in any doubt as to Flo's strategy for the future of the continent, here's a little of what she would like to tell the G8:
"We cannot develop Africa without biotechnology"
"GM crops have a major role to play in Africa"
"biotechnology has huge potential"
Meanwhile, Bill Gates' Foundation has just announced it's to pour $16.9 million into a consortium headed by Africa Harvest, of which Wambugu is the CEO. The consortium includes Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont.
In the press release Wambugu's 'Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International' (Africa Harvest) is described as "Africa's leading non-profit agricultural and scientific organization".
If it is, in any sense, "leading" then that's almost entirely thanks to the likes of Croplife International which funds Africa Harvest's "communication" activities. CropLife International is a global federation 'representing the plant science industry' and led by the following companies: BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. And no, it isn't based in Africa.
Wambugu was picked and trained by Monsanto and came to fame via Monsanto's GM virus-resistant sweet potato project. She built her reputation on this project, capturing massive positive publicity for GM in the process. But Wambugu's reputation is built on a lie. The project in question has been far from the success for Africa that Wambugu has repeatedly claimed.
In fact, 3 years of field trials showed the project, which cost over $6 million, was a complete failure, delivering lower yields than conventional crops and no virus resistance - the very opposite of what Wambugu had for years been claiming right around the globe. By contrast, conventional sweet potato breeding in Uganda was able to develop with a small budget a well-liked virus-resistant variety with yield gains of nearly 100%!
As Aaron deGrassi of the Institute of Development Studies has noted, the tragedy is that this kind of "excitement over certain genetic engineering procedures can divert financial, human, and intellectual resources from focusing on productive research that meets the needs of poor farmers."
[Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa
So the leaders of the industrialised nations are being told to listen to a voice from Africa that's been trained by Monsanto and which is being amplified by CropLife International.
The President of CropLife International, who is also the CEO of the world's biggest GM company, Syngenta, is on record as saying, "As we leverage the potential of our Crop Protection and Seeds capabilities in pursuit of market share gain, we are targeting steadily higher returns and value creation for our shareholders."
In other words, the real goal of GM seeds is to feed the hungry corporations and their shareholders.
No doubt that's that's a message - relayed "from Africa" - that Bush and Blair may just be able to hear.
For Flo's PANTS ON FIRE award
+ ANDHRA PRADESH BANS MONSANTO
Andhra Pradesh, considered the seed capital of India, has banned Monsanto from marketing and selling its Bt cotton varieties in the state and from conducting any trials. The reasons are the failure of the company's seeds in previous crops and its refusal to pay 450 million rupees compensation to farmers as decided by the agricultural commissioner of the state.
The AP government has suspended the joint director of agriculture, Warangal for complicity in fudging the Bt cotton records.
+ MONSANTO'S COTTON HAS DEFICIENCIES - NEW STUDY
New research into Monsanto's Bt cotton cultivation in Maharashtra, India by scientists at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics shows the costs are significantly higher than for non-Bt cotton. They also report numerous complaints of Bt cotton suffering from bollworm and other pest/disease attacks.
The researchers recommend that the government should investigate and that if they find Bt cotton is being damaged by bollworm attack, they should not only help the farmers get proper compensation but should also penalise "the companies for making false propaganda about their seed varieties".
+ INDIA: DISASTROUS DEBUT FOR GM COTTON IN PUNJAB
Bt cotton was officially approved for cultivation in Punjab this year. Within a few weeks, negative reports have started pouring in. The following is from a front page story in the Indian press:
Touted as the answer to the American Bollworm menace and making a much-hyped official debut in Punjab this season, Bt cotton seems to have fallen to the very disease it has been designed to resist in Fazilka and Abohar. Cotton growers spoken to in the two districts said many of their plants had been fully or partly eaten up by worms. Some had grown fungus and others didn't germinate at all. Those who tried the seeds illegally last season (these were approved only recently) have gone back to the traditional "desi" (local) varieties after the not-so-happy experience with designer seeds.
... Even as Punjab has approved six Bt cotton varieties for sowing this year, states like Andhra Pradesh have banned these seeds.
+ NO PESTICIDES, HIGHER YIELDS
EXCERPT from excellent article by Devinder Sharma in The Hindu:
It was in 1999 that a tiny village in Andhra Pradesh's Khammam district successfully began experimenting with non-pesticidal management practices. In the next few years it charted an easy escape route from the multiple rings of harmful pesticides. The contaminated environment began to change. Soil and plant health looked revitalised, and the pests began to disappear. Restoring the ecological balance brought back the natural pest control systems. The crop yields were still higher.
In Bangladesh, 2,000 poor rice farmers with average farm incomes of Rs 4,000 a year have proved mainline agricultural scientists completely wrong. Gary John, senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Manila, was completely stumped by the change they brought about in just two years. "To my surprise when people stopped spraying, yields didn't drop - and this was across 600 fields in two different districts over four seasons. I'm convinced that the vast majority of insecticides that rice farmers use are a complete waste of time and money."
Read on at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5367
+ TWO COUNTRIES BLOCK TIGHTER RULES ON GM CROPS
Key UN negotiations on the safe trade of GM crops and foods ended 3 June in acrimony. Despite over 100 countries demanding comprehensive controls to limit GM contamination, the move was blocked by just two countries that shamelessly sided with the GM industry: New Zealand and Brazil.
The negotiations on the United Nations' Biosafety Protocol in Montreal were aimed at bringing in international rules to reduce contamination from imports of GM crops and to introduce full labelling.
+ NZ CLAIMS ITS 30 PIECES OF SILVER
Many Cartagena Protocol delegates were horrified and incredulous when New Zealand sided with the biotech industry and blocked GM labeling and liability moves at the recent meeting in Montreal. After all, NZ has not been a biotech exporter or grower.
But now it seems that NZ has invested in becoming one. At the BIO convention, the NZ government is promoting NZ biotech via its "New Thinking programme" which helps NZ biotech businesses "compete globally by building on NZ's 'clean, green' image"! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
+ NZ A FRONT FOR U.S. CORN STATE
A further explanation for NZ's pro-GM industry stance in Montreal is that NZ was acting as a proxy for the US. Details have emerged of a biotech deal between NZ and Iowa, a state at the heart of the US farm belt. In the next year, Iowa hopes to see investment from NZ companies interested in establishing a US presence.
No state has been harder hit than Iowa by the controversy over GMOs, with even the Americans admitting they've lost hundreds of millions of dollars in blocked corn exports. And no state was harder hit by the Starlink GM disaster, which contaminated over 50% of Iowa's corn crop.
In other words, no state has a greater interest in global genetic pollution escaping unnoticed, and NZ, it seems, is desperate to curry favour with its business partner - no matter what the global cost!
+ SCRAP GM BAN, OZ FEDERAL GOVT TELLS STATES
The Australian federal government is stepping up pressure on the states to lift their bans on the cultivation of GM food crops. Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss believes the bans are "unscientific" and has called for them to be scrapped.
+ PHILIPPINES TOWN BANS BT CORN, ADOPTS ORGANIC FARMING
In Surallah, an area of South Cotabato in the Philippines, local officials have banned the entry and planting of GM crops, especially Bt corn, as part of their moves to transform the municipality into a "chemical-free zone" and a haven for organic crops.
+ BAD ECONOMICS OF BT CORN IN PHILIPPINES
A new report from Greepeace argues that Bt corn has proven to be a neither practical nor ecologically sustainable option for small farmers in the Philippines for the following reasons:
1. The corn borer is a pest that is manageable. There are cheaper, readily available and proven non-GM means of controlling the corn borer.
2. Bt corn seeds are a lot more expensive.
3. Yield from non-Bt varieties can match if not exceed Bt varieties.
4. There are strong indications of negative effects on the soil ecosystem and non-target organisms.
5. Farmers may be sued for patent infringement or for saving Bt corn seeds or from contamination of their crops.
+ MONSANTO CON-TRICK IN PHILIPPINES
Monsanto's agents appear to be recommending that farmers apply large quantities of fertilizer to Bt corn in the hope of artificially boosting yield and so convincing other farmers that it's worth switching to Bt corn.
+ ILLEGAL GM RICE MAY BE IN CHINA'S EXPORTS
Greenpeace is warning illegal GM rice might contaminate China's exports to the rest of the world. The warning came as Greenpeace said it had found illegal GM rice, which produced allergic reactions when tested on mice, in the huge Chinese city of Guangzhou, north of Hong Kong.
"We are now facing the contamination of the most important staple crop in the whole world," Sze Pang Cheung of Greenpeace said.
+ BT10 LIKELY TO BE IN HUMAN FOOD CHAIN - SYNGENTA
Regarding the release of illegal Syngenta maize Bt10: in an email to the UK's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Syngenta has admitted that all five Bt10 breeding lines were yellow field corn lines. This type of corn is used in a wide range of processed foods with maize ingredients intended for human consumption.
This admission directly contradicts the assurances given by UK's Food Standards Agency and by the European Commission that all of the Bt10 went into animal feed and is therefore relatively harmless.
+ THIRD JAPANESE SHIPMENT TESTS POSITIVE FOR Bt10
A third shipment of corn intended for feed use in Japan has tested positive for Syngenta's unapproved corn Bt10. Of the US corn imported by Japan for food use, 90 percent is identity preserved and considered non-GM.
+ FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY ACCUSED OF STALINIST TACTICS
Britain's official food safety watchdog - which prides itself on its "openness" - is embroiled in a row over the blanking-out of large sections of a document relating to banned GM maize Bt10 being illegally imported into the country.
Dr Brian John of GM Free Cymru said: "After endless procrastination, we have at last been sent a bunch of documents relating to the scandal, only to find that they have been heavily censored in a manner that would have done credit to Stalinist Russia."
+ MURKY WORLD OF CORPORATE LOBBYISTS IN EUROPE
Brussels lobbying veteran Daniel Gueguen Rogier has predicted that the corporate lobbying industry in Europe "will tend to adopt ever tougher lobbying strategies and ever more sophisticated approaches to economic intelligence that will probably involve practices such as manipulation, destabilization or disinformation."
+ BIOTECH INDUSTRY LOSES BILLIONS PER YEAR
From an Associated Press article:
... the [biotech] industry's losses continued to mount in 2004. The biotechnology industry lost a combined $6.4 billion last year, according to a new report from Ernst & Young. The industry's total accrued loss since its birth in Silicon Valley in the mid-1970s is more than $45 billion.
Biotechnology remains a money-losing niche industry of 1,400 companies employing about 183,000 workers nationwide. By contrast, Wal-Mart employs 1.7 million workers, and its annual revenue rivals the entire biotech industry's annual sales.
+ CANADIAN FARMER'S ROUNDUP READY CANOLA PROBLEMS
Read farmer Chris Dzisiak's disastrous experiences with RR canola 'volunteers' at
In 2000, volunteer canola appeared in the 156 acre field where Roundup Ready canola had been planted the year before. The field was planted to wheat in 2000. Dzisiak controlled the volunteers with 2,4-D. But he said his problems with the volunteer canola became more acute this year when he planted the same field to flax.
A preseed burnoff failed to control the herbicide-tolerant plants. That prompted Dzisiak to apply a Buctril M/Select mix to the flax crop soon after it had emerged.
Dzisiak killed the volunteer canola, but his flax crop suffered because of the high rate of herbicide... The stunted flax grew slowly over the next two weeks, allowing wild oats and volunteer wheat to flourish. The result, according to Dzisiak, was a yield loss of three bushels an acre in his flax crop.
He estimates he lost $4,500 this year because of the yield loss, the extra herbicide costs to control the volunteer canola, and the excess dockage in his flax due to the wheat volunteers and wild oats... "I certainly didn't save myself any money and I certainly didn't save myself any time."
+ CANADIANS CALL FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO FIRINGS
Canadians are calling on the federal government to convene an independent investigation into the firing of Health Canada whistle-blowers Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert.
The scientists assert that they were pressured, harassed and finally dismissed for speaking out about the dangers of mad cow disease and about the use of hormones and antibiotics in the food supply, particularly the use of Monsanto's GM bovine growth hormone.
+ CIA DIRECTOR GROWS HIS OWN
Rumours that the political and corporate elite wouldn't dream of eating the stuff that they're keen to provide to the rest of the world will be fueled by news that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency likes to grow "natural" food for his table. Porter Goss said, "We have a farm that [uses] no pesticides, no hormones, no additives - just compost and hard work. And we grow natural."
+ GM SOY GROWERS MASSACRE PEASANT COMMUNITY IN PARAGUAY
Brazilian GM soy growers protected by the police and military in Paraguay attacked a peasant community in Caaguazu on 24 June. They have evicted 270 people, and burnt down all 54 houses and the peasants' crops. Two men have been killed - Angel Cristaldo and Luis Torres. Many people were injured and 30 people were arrested, amongst them women and children.
The incident appears to be part of the pattern of land grab, ecological destruction and social disaster that's accompanying the RR soya push in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
+ GM SOY PROBLEMS IN BRAZIL
After a few years of planting GM soy, Brazilian farmers are going to have to spend more money on agrichemicals, says Greenpeace agronomist, Ventura Barbeiro. Barbeiro reports that GM farmers in the US have found that after three years they have to use more herbicides.
+ BIODEMOCRACY 2005
Read a great report by Pete Shanks, the author of Human Genetic Engineering, on the three-day Teach-In and protests held in Phialdelphia last week to counterbalance the annual convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
+ HAWAII: STATE BOARD OK'S GM ALGAE ON BIG ISLAND
The state Board of Agriculture has given its approval to test and grow a GM microalgae at a lab near Kona. Mera Pharmaceuticals will begin immediately to import the microalgae from a California laboratory, even as opponents seek to block the permit.
+ GREENPEACE CONVICTED UNDER ANTI-TERROR LAWS
Greenpeace has been fined by a Copenhagen court as the first organization charged under new Danish anti-terror laws introduced after the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.
Greenpeace was charged under the new legislation last month following a protest by a group of activists in October 2003 at the Copenhagen headquarters of the Danish Agriculture association against GMOs used in the pork industry. They hung a banner reading "No to GMO swine" from a window, and have been separately accused of violating domestic peace.
+ MONSANTO PUBLISHES MON863 STUDY
Monsanto has finally published its MON 863 90 day rat study, after being ordered to release the study by a German court.
Read all 1139 pages - if you can download it!
Read Monsanto's 11-page summary:
For a review commissioned by the German authorities from Dr Arpad Pusztai on both the full 90-day study and a Monsanto summary see:
For Dr Pusztai's review, in easy-to-read table form, of some of the significant differences found in the rat-feeding study, see:
For Dr Pusztai's list of reasons why the Mon 863 study should have been rejected, go to
See detailed information on the study provided by Professor Seralini at:
For Friends of the Earth report on conflicts of interest in the European Food Standards Agency:
+ EU MINISTERS VOTE TO KEEP GM FOOD BANS
Environment ministers from across Europe on 24 June voted by a big majority to allow countries to keep their safety bans on GM foods. The ministers rejected all the proposals by the European Commission to lift the bans in Austria, Luxembourg, France, Greece and Germany.
The ministers, however, only voted by a simple majority to prevent approval of the GM maize - MON 863 - which caused unexplained kidney damage to rats, according to research conducted by the manufacturer, Monsanto. Monsanto refused to release all the results of its own test on this GM food until a German court recently forced it to do so. The ministers’ failure to reach the (larger) "qualified majority" leaves it open to the European Commission to approve the maize regardless of majority opposition.
+ MONSANTO SHARES SLIDE ON WEAK EARNINGS
Monsanto said third-quarter net income fell 81 percent due to write-offs for two large acquisitions and predicted next quarter's results would fall short of Wall Street's forecast, sending the company's shares down 6.5 percent by mid-day on 29 June.
Monsanto (down $4.02 to $63.82) said net earnings for the period ending in May fell to $47 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $252 million, or 93 cents per share, a year earlier.
+ JAPANESE RETHINK GM CANOLA
Japan, which regularly buys half of Canada's canola seed exports is contemplating whether it will continue to accept shipments containing GM product.
+ SCIENTISTS ADMIT CHANGING STUDIES TO SUIT BACKERS
In a survey of scientists in the USA published in Nature, 15.5% said they had changed the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source, and 12.5% admitted overlooking others' use of flawed data.
+ ORGANIC FOOD HAS MORE BENEFICIAL NUTRIENTS OFFICIAL
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been extensively lobbied by anti-organic interests in order to limit what claims can be made for organic food. What is less well known is that as a result of its stringent evaluation of the evidence, the ASA recognises the validity of important claims that can be made for organic food.
These include, for instance, the fact that no food has higher amounts of beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins than organic food.
+ GENETICALLY MODIFIED LANGUAGE - NEW BOOK
Guy Cook, Professor in Language and Education at the Open University (OU) has written a must-read book, Genetically Modified Language, which critically analyses the war of words waged by those arguing for GM crops.
For example, Cook shows how Lord Robert May uses his carefully prepared 2002 presidential address to link opponents of GM within Britain with "outsiders and enemies of the British nation, such as Hitler, Mao and the Taliban".