"At the Group of 8 (G8) meetings this past weekend, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world's richest nations abandoned their governments' previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa, after disbursing only 58 percent of the total pledge of $22 billion and giving less than 6 percent in new money they pledged three years ago.
Instead, rich nations will leave the problem in the hands of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years -- Monsanto has committed $50 million -- beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia. (Human-rights activists have questioned the inclusion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, noting that his authoritarian government has jailed dissidents and banned media access to hunger zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to President Obama that the Ethiopian government "routinely downplays the extent of the crisis by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent news coverage.")
The main U.S. spokesperson for the New Alliance is USAID administrator Rajiv Shah. OCA opposed Dr. Shah's appointment because of his work for the Gates Foundation and his position as a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which actively promote expensive and unsustainable technologies like genetic engineering.
Ronnie Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association, issued the following statement in response to the news:
"Study after study has shown that organic, agro-ecological farming practices on small diverse farms can boost yields in Africa and the developing world from 100-1000% over the yields of chemical-intensive or genetically engineered mono-crop farms. To help the world's two billion small farmers and rural villagers survive and prosper we need to help them gain access, not to genetically engineered seeds and expensive chemical inputs; but rather access to land, water, and the tools and techniques of traditional, sustainable farming: non-patented open-pollinated seeds, crop rotation, natural compost production, beneficial insects, and access to local markets. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) reduce crop yields, and increase pesticide use, even according to USDA statistics. Bill Gates, Monsanto, and Barack Obama may believe that genetic engineering and chemical-intensive agriculture are the tools to feed the world, but a look at the fatal harvest of modern agribusiness tells a different story. Not only can climate-friendly, healthy organic agriculture practices feed the world, but in fact organic farming is the only way we are going to be able to feed the world."
OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer prepared the following notes for a talk she gave at the Occupy G8 People's Summit, critiquing the New Alliance:
Contrary to the talking points of President Obama and the other leaders of the G8 nations, the problem of feeding the world isn't about the need to produce more food, it's about stopping the way wealthy countries are subsidizing their richest farmers, grabbing up the best land in Africa, speculating on food commodities in their financial markets, wasting food, diverting crop production to livestock feed and biofuels, and ratcheting up the costs of farming by encouraging the use of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
The world already produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That's enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050.
70 percent of this food is produced by 3 billion small-scale food producers worldwide.
Nevertheless, 1 billion people on the planet are chronically hungry, and 70% are farmers.
If the G8 actually cared about ending hunger, they'd":...
This well written comprehensive report found at the Organic Consumers Association's site is right on target regarding how totally wrong President Obama and this league of chemical polluters are in their plans to invade Africa with GMO seeds and toxic pesticides. In this time we find ourselves living in this is not the time to rely on failed schemes when there are natural organic ways to grow food that have been proven to give greater yields while preserving soil health and biodiversity. These are methods already being employed by small farmers in these countries being ignored in this process who do not want Monsanto and their tecnology fees, high imput costs and jackbooted tactics employed simply for saving seed that perpetuates poverty. Syngenta as well has a toxic legacy as does DOW. Monoculture and pesticide seeds are not the way to go in bringing food sovereignty to regions of the world already reeling due to more severe and frequent climactic changes. Please read further for more on this and what has unfolded regarding it...
President Obama rubbed elbows with Hugh Grant CEO of Monsanto at this symposium as well as other chemical polluters like Syngenta. If you read the list of sponsors it reads like a who's who of biotech/pesticide pushers (including Dupont, Syngenta and Walmart.) And of course, sponsored by the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation as well, which like their counterparts are salivating to push these poison seeds onto the people of Africa against their will for profit. Now, what distracting bit of news is the media concentrating on today to hide this? This administration is in bed fully with these corporations intent on a contaminated monoculture world where nature itself is patented and farmers are indebted to them for LIFE. I can only hope resistance to this gets even stronger.
There has also been hum in the blogosphere due to Bono of U2 speaking at this symposium and basically accepting this agreement regarding allowing Monsanto and other companies to have unfettered access to its resources. The hum is because Bono is known as the co-founder of the ONE campaign which is set on alleviating poverty in Africa. Bono in my view has been rightly chastised on his appearance at this symposium by environmental and food rights groups as his own words there basically stated he was going against what he claims to care about by not speaking out for the farmers who were left out of this.
"A key part of the new alliance is the promise of $3 billion in investments from more than 45 private sector firms around the globe, including U.S. seed, chemical and agricultural equipment companies DuPont, Monsanto and Cargill, for agricultural programs on the African continent in the next few years."
The link above is his speech. He supports the plan of merging Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta, etc. in Africa. Just what do you think they want for the Billions they are investing? Do you think the farmers (that everyone conveniently forgets) will have any real say regarding food sovereignty? This entire gathering was a platform for their agenda. He supported it and did nothing to speak out against what Monsanto with their technology agreements and pesticide treadmill has already led to regarding farmer suicides in India and the global contamination and resistance surrounding GMOs. I can't believe he isn't aware of that. He stood at this conference with a group of people whose only aim is to make profit off of Africa's resources and accepted it.
I have been reporting on this for years and find it irresponsible that someone with his clout could not truly stand up for the very farmers who were not even invited to this conference. There were no indigenous people there. No women farmers. No poor farmers. Just reps of Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta and every other company poisoning this planet for their own gain along with the politicians including Obama supporting them. So, those indigenous farmers, those women farmers, those poor farmers needed a voice, a champion...and what they got was more bowing down of these very companies that have done nothing but toxify this planet for over a century combined.
His acquiescence to these viper companies now being given unfettered access to Africa and its resources whose farmers on the whole do not want them there is wrong. Landgrabbing by governments and multi-nationals in Africa is at an all time high and thousands of people in Africa are being displaced from their land to use that land for biofuel and animal feed and GMOs. BIG money for them, poverty and hunger for those who they throw off ancestral lands! And it isn't only happening in Africa, it is happening in South America as well as in Asia. This is the reality and it is perpetuating poverty, land degradation and climate change. Bono had a chance to speak out against these deceitful polluting companies and he didn't. He even called Bill Gates his friend and lauded these companies invading Africa. Why?
"A lot of people say the 21st century is about China. Well, ask the Chinese ‘cuz they’re all over Africa. They figured out by 2050 the population of Africa will nearly double China’s. Think about that. Ask Walmart. Walmart invested $2.4 billion in Africa. They see the potential."
"If you listen – and actually at the ONE campaign we really try to listen to what people in the developing world want – they will say, 'We have a lot of what we want already we just can’t get to it,'" Bono said. "'Make it easier for us to do business,” they tell us, “for our entrepreneurs, for our farmers.'"
"Well, President Obama is talking business this morning. Secretary Clinton is about to talk some business. And we think that’s great. They’re bringing U.S. companies and African business leaders together. That’s exciting."
His words. Tells me he is either totally clueless or just as greedy.
PATENTING LIFE, AGRA AND OTHER MOVES
Major players in the biotech industry, such as Monsanto, maintain a battery of lawyers who snoop around and sue farmers for infringing their patent rights even when they (Monsanto) should actually be held liable for having their seeds contaminate the farms of farmers who choose not to cultivate GE crops. Talking about this biotech industry giant brings to mind the specious philanthropic thrust that is seeking to open the African environment to GE crops and products. The Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has vigorously denied on various occasions that they intend to use modern biotech tools in their tackling of hunger in Africa. Their denials have met scepticism and the recent revelation that the Bill Gates Foundation was making investments in Monsanto should send clear signals to perceptive Africans and African governments that this Alliance is based on the platform of philanthropic capitalism. This is one sustained means of pushing GE crops and products into Africa.
WE WILL EAT WHAT WE WANT: RESISTING GMOS IN AFRICA
The other route through which GMOs are pushed into Africa has been through food aid as well as uncontrolled commercial imports. The food aid route became public in 2002 when Zambia exercised her right to choose what sort of foods to allow into her territory and rejected genetically engineered maize as food aid. Zambia was vilified and pressured but refused to buckle. Questions were asked as to why hungry people should choose to stay hungry rather than eat GE products. There were similar pressures on Angola and Sudan in 2004 when they experience food shortages. In some cases nations asked for milled maize as food aid as whole grains could find their way into the environment and contaminate local varieties. We note here that Zambia rejected GE food aid, weathered the storm and produced a bumper harvest the following year. In fact, while the debate raged in 2002 there were good harvests in other regions of Zambia and aid in cash could have assisted the nation to purchase and move such foods to needy areas. Truth is that food aid is big business. The type of aid given is not merely dictated by the fact of hunger.
This article is very comprehensive regarding the myth that is GMO and the attempt to force them on Africa. Agricultural aid must be in the form of access to a biodiverse nutritious food source that farmers can then use to continue to grow and nourish people with.The US grows only those crops that make agribusiness money through technology fees, higher seed prices, higher imput prices and speculation along with subsidies. We do not subsidize biodiversity we subsidize monoculture for the sake of profit and it is hurting not only our biodiversity, soil health and water quality but the livelihoods of small scale family farmers in this country and globally. Fossil fuel driven industrial pesticide agriculture is not "feeding" people it is making them sick and killing them by making them obese, diabetic and allergic. Feeding someone is different than actually nurturing them with truly healthy acccessible food. Subsidies to grow only corn and soy for cash that bring us nothing but corn and soy saturated processed foods in the US filled with GMOs, pesticides and other additives are not making us healthier, they are making a new generation of heart patients, especially in inner cities and poor neighborhoods where access to farmer's markets and healthier foods is less likely to be reality. The day we subsidize broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, etc is the day I will believe the USDA really cares about health and also spurring jobs in agriculture and not just doing the bidding of Monsanto, Cargill, et al.
And feeding the developing world does not count on employing GMOs or other cockamamie scams that keep farmers in poverty in perpetuity, but giving them access to actual land not landgrabbed by big conglomerates and governments just to use it to grow biofuel and animal feed or holding farmers hostage to growing "luxury crops" that are exported to Western countries that take away land that could be used to grow food to feed people in these countries that would also work to keep prices down. Agroecology is one way we can feed 9 billion people and it is not back breaking or caught up in the fossil fuel /pesticide treadmill that only really feeds the bank accounts of companies like Monsanto. Agroforestry as well as agroecology are already working well in developing nations to increase yields where small scale farmers can also have more control over what they plant by having the ability to save seeds. Conserving water, using cover crops, crop rotation to maintain soil health, CO2 sequestration in soil and working to maintain biodiversity are all essential in feeding a growing population in a world now strained by water scarcity and climate change impacts.