The Oakland Institute Reporter
An Action Alert from Center for Food Safety (www.centerforfoodsafety.org)
A Note from the Oakland Institute
The 2008 food crisis and growing hunger, which threatens nearly one billion people worldwide, has been framed as a crisis of demand and supply. Thus the solutions offered primarily focus on boosting agricultural production through technological solutions like genetic engineering (GE).
A big player promoting GE as the panacea to world hunger is the United States. During the G-8 Summit, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warned that failure to take immediate steps to reduce hunger will cause fresh social unrest. He thus urged the G8 to back the use of science in agriculture, including genetically modified organisms, to boost productivity. (Financial Times, 2009) On his return from Italy, much to the delight of biotech companies such as Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto, he pledged to bring a "more comprehensive and integrated" approach to promoting agricultural biotech overseas. (Des Moines Register, 2009).
Similarly in a joint essay, former Executive Director of the UN World Food Program, Catherine Bertini, and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, hailed plans for a new Green Revolution that includes biotechnology, as holding "great promise." They advocated for prioritizing food and agriculture in the U.S. foreign aid. Recognizing that their plans might generate resistance, the authors wrote, "Although there is the potential for conflict over a hunger initiative on the issue of introducing more GM crops, this conflict is more likely to be with Europeans than with Africans or Asians, both of whom are increasingly inclined to accept the technology." (Bertini & Glickman, 2009)
This thinking, that developing countries can be arm twisted into accepting GE crops, is reflected in a new multi-billion dollar U.S. aid bill. Global Food Security Act (SB 384), also known as the Lugar-Casey Act, revises the 1961 Federal Assistance Act to direct more money towards GE research as part of U.S. foreign aid programs. (PANNA, 2009) The bill is now before the Senate after passing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March 2009 on the basis of hastily conducted, industry-friendly research that was funded by the Gates Foundation. A similar bill is expected soon in the House of Representatives.
A recent report from the Oakland Institute, Voices from Africa: African Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa, clearly outlines African resistance to plans for a technological agricultural revolution in Africa, particularly the misguided philanthropic efforts of the Gates Foundation's Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and presents African solutions rooted in first-hand knowledge of what Africans need. To learn more, download a copy of the report at www.oaklandinstitute.org.
Also visit and join today, Voices From Africa at www.oaklandinstitute.org/voicesfromafrica, a new online clearinghouse to share information on and promote alternatives to the New Green Revolution in Africa.
It is time that we demand the U.S. government stops bullying other countries and that they hav policy space to develop agriculture as they deem fit for their environment, farmers, and national needs.