Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Please forward this letter to all your contacts.
Thank you for your attention.
Kenya GMO Concern
To: United Nations Hunger Task Force & Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan
From: Kenyan, African & other world wide NGOs
Re: The appointment of Dr Florence Wambugu to the UN Hunger Task Force
We, the undersigned Kenyan and other non-governmental organisations from Africa, note with extreme disquiet, the recent appointment of Dr Florence Wambugu to the United Nations Hunger Task Force team. We are extremely concerned that Dr Wambugu, a woman of questionable integrity and credibility, will use the UN's Task Force as a unique opportunity to exert pressure on African governments to accept genetically engineered food and crops, ostensibly to combat poverty and hunger. If this happens, Dr Wambugu will embroil the UN's Hunger Task Force in unnecessary controversy, bringing its work into disrepute.
Dr Wambugu is an ardent proponent of genetic engineering and has gone far to promote genetic engineering by deliberately and falsely manipulating data and information. Dr Wambugu was involved in a Monsanto funded project in Kenya to genetically engineer sweet potatoes to be virus resistant, which eventually failed after 12 years of wasteful experimentation. She presented false and misleading data regarding virus prevalence, its link to food insecurity, conventional sweet potato yields, success of the GM variety, its acceptance and use in Africa, and the lack of conventional breeding methods to achieve the same result.
Dr Wambugu is so bent on the promotion of genetic engineering that she makes far more extravagant claims for the potential of GE, than even her industry friends. While Monsanto UK's director of corporate affairs, Tony Combes has said 'Nobody has ever claimed that GM is the answer to world hunger' (Sunday Herald, UK), Dr Wambugu has said that in Africa, GE 'could literally weed out poverty' (New Scientist). Dr Wambugu has claimed that GE is necessary to counter 'famine, environmental degradation and poverty' (Nature), and that GE 'can pull the Africa continent out of decades of economic and social despair' (National Post, Canada). Dr Wambugu continually makes claims that are over-simplistic, unjustifiable, and dangerously exaggerated.
We are concerned that Dr Wambugu will influence the UN Hunger Task Force to prioritise the promotion of genetic engineering technology as the solution to world hunger, and thereby undermine alternative, sustainable and appropriate solutions. It is recognised that the principle causes of hunger and poverty are those linked to markets, water, soil fertility, access to land and credit, and basic infrastructure. Genetic engineering cannot solve any of these problems. We urge the UN Hunger task force to focus on the real issues at stake, and not to be distracted by this seductive new technology.
Dr Wambugu's connections to the genetic engineering industry are well established and widely known. She has twice won the Monsanto Company Outstanding Performance Award. She is a Biotechnology Advisory Panellist for DuPont and a Director of the AfriCentre of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), an organisation for promoting GM, whose funders include Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, Dow, Cargill and Bayer - all companies who stand to benefit financially by the widespread uptake of GM.
Currently, Dr Wambugu is Executive Director of A Harvest Biotechnology Foundation International (AHBFI). One of the main focuses of this organisation is its communication programme, designed to promote genetic engineering across the African continent. The communication programme is supported by CropLife International, an organisation led by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont. A profile of Dr Wambugu, her connections and conflicts of interest can be read on the GM Watch website, <http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=131>
Dr Wambugu’s work on the UN Task Force will be seen (by people on both sides of the debate) as an extension of her communication programme work.
If the UN Hunger Task Force genuinely wishes to achieve its goals, it will not include Dr Wambugu on its team. By including such a controversial figure and known promoter of GM on the Task Force, the United Nations risks its own reputation as an institution that helps the poor. It will instead be seen as yet another agency that favours the genetic engineering industry, big business and the control of wealth and resources.
We ask therefore request that you kindly rescind the appointment of Dr Wambugu, for the sake of the United Nations, the Hunger Task Force, and above all, for the sake of Africa.
.......................... (Kenyan NGOs)
........................... (African NGOs)
Protest Wambugu's appointment to UN Hunger Task Force (12/10/2004)
Dear Friends and Colleagues,