"Personally, I distrust everything that comes from NGIN" Alex Avery, Hudson Institute, 18 Jan 2001
In one of the most outrageous smears yet in the vicious disinformation campaign being waged by GM proponents with the assistance of corporate-funded far-right elements, NGOs in the south are being accused of being "local front organisations" for wealthy American environmentalists.
It is being insinuated that the concerns about GM crops of established and well regarded NGOs like the Third World Network, based in Malaysia, is all down to their "doing the bidding of their wealthy American paymasters".
This is being suggested on the basis that they receive some funding support from a US environmental group. The implication is that such developing-world NGOs should forego such support, if it's available, while taking on the US government, transnational corporations + the local organisations that receive assistance from these major players?!!!
What is particularly sickening about this attack is that it comes from the right-wing Australian "think tank", the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which by any standard appears anything but independent despite its claims to the contrary.
On the Institute's board are Australian representatives of transnational corporations with highly unenviable reputations in relation to the environment and public health, eg:
Mr Eric Windholz, Director Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris
Dr Timothy Duncan, General Manager, Corporate Relations, Rio Tinto
Mr John P Simpson, Group Manager, External Affairs & Public Policy, Shell
According to Sharon Bedder, not only does the IPA have an extraordinarily long list of corporate members but, "Almost one third of IPA's $1.5 million annual budget comes from mining and manufacturing companies." http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/sbeder/tanks.html
So this is a real case of "don't do what I do, do what I say!"
And where does this insinuation of NGOs "doing the bidding of their wealthy American paymasters" ultimately originate? According to the article:
"Professor C.S. Prakash, a regular visitor to Malaysia, expressed concern over the funding sources of the well-funded disinformation campaign being waged against biotechnology in countries such as Malaysia."
This is the same scientist who last year came on a tour to Europe to promote GM crops courtesy of the US embassy! He is back again this May at the discreditable Seeds of Opportunity conference in London courtesy once again, it is understood, of the US embassy.
To paraphrase the article, doesn't this raise very real questions about whether this scientist is representing the interests of the developing world, as he so often proclaims, or whether he is simply doing the bidding of his wealthy American paymasters?
This "independent" scientist has also published pro-GM material in '21st Century Science and Technology', a publication controlled by Lyndon LaRouche -- the far right extremist and anti-semite. He has also published the extreme views of its editor on his AgBioView e-mail list.
Among the rest of the motley crew of GM proponents posting to Prakash's AgBioView list are many with connections, to the group 'No More Scares' and its publication “The Fear Profiteers”. According to a recent PR Watch article, many of those involved have been outspoken apologists for the tobacco industry:http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/168.htm
Prakash has also appeared on the London platform of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the right wing libertarian group linked, via its environment directors, to “The Fear Profiteers” and to the ESEF - in part a front organisation, it now appears, for Big Tobacco, which has also been used to promote GM crops and smear organic food: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/rightwing.htm
And Prakash is worried about "funding sources" and "disinformation" campaigns???
US Groups Funding Disinformation Campaign In Malaysia
March 13 , 2001
MELBOURNE, March 13 (Bernama) -- Malaysian anti-biotechnology groups are being funded by American radical environmentalists, according to preliminary results of an investigation conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in Australia.
IPA's month-long investigation was initiated after a number of leading biotechnology scientists such as Professor C.S. Prakash, a regular visitor to Malaysia, expressed concern over the funding sources of the well-funded disinformation campaign being waged against biotechnology in countries such as Malaysia.
The Melbourne-based IPA is Australia's leading public policy think-tank which has a long interest in economic development.
According to IPA's lead researcher, Don D'Cruz, the scientists could not understand 'who could and would want to fund a scare campaign of lies' about something that has the potential to help so many people.
"Unlike some other environmental issues, there's no division in the scientific community about the safety and potential of biotechnology," he said in a statement to Bernama.
Malaysian-born D'Cruz, 32, spent a month in the United States following the money trail. His research showed that the California-based Foundation for Deep Ecology had, according to its 1999 tax returns, paid two grants totalling US$75,000 to the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).
The same tax returns also showed that CAP was paid an additional US$125,000 on Feb 17, 1998 and US$150,000 on April 11, 1997 for purposes of supporting another anti-biotech non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Third World Network.
The Foundation for Deep Ecology was founded by eccentric American clothing magnate (Espirit and Patagonia) Douglas Tompkins, who subscribes to a radical green philosophy, which opposes not justgenetically modified organisms but also modern industrial agriculture that emerged from the Green Revolution.
"During the 1960s and 1970s, the Green Revolution helped Malaysia achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and a number of other areas which it could never have achieved without such advances," D'Cruz said.
According to IPA, the CAP, the Third World Network and a third anti-biotech NGO, the Pesticide Action Network, all occupy the same offices in Penang and have run a coordinated campaign against the introduction of genetically modified foods, despite strong government, scientific and commercial support.
D'Cruz said these revelations raised very real questions about whether these NGOs were representing the interests of Malaysians, as they often claim, or whether they were simply doing the bidding of their wealthy American paymasters.
"In view of the immense benefits of biotechnology to Malaysians and the Malaysian economy and, the rather dishonest scare campaign based on absolutely no scientific evidence, one would have to conclude that they are representing the interests of extreme western environmentalists," he said.
The executive director of the IPA, Dr Mike Nahan, a former agricultural economist who spent a number of years working in Malaysia, said "biotechnology offers better yields, less pesticides, assistance with reforestation, better nutrient levels and brand new crops."
"It would be criminal if Malaysia did not reap these benefits due to the interference of a few wealthy foreign activists and their local front organisations," he said.