FOCUS ON AFRICA
Africa's answer to Dr Goebbels, Dr Florence Wambugu of the CropLife International-assisted lobby group Africa Harvest, appears to have been on sparkling form at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"Our focus as Africa Harvest has been to provide factual information to Africans. Our experience is that they are not as gullible as the anti-GM lobby groups make them out to be."
This Pants on Fire award winner (2003-2004) wouldn't know factual information if it bit her. Her lies are legendary, not least those she used in promoting the failed GM sweet potato project to the world's media as the saviour of millions of hungry Afrians.
Note especially here how she just slips in the line: "Africa supports biotechnology". Like the industry, Wambugu is also adept at confusing biotechnology in general, which is often uncontroversial and so has wide acceptance, with genetic engineering.
For more on Wambugu:
For her PANTS award:
For CropLife International
Why GM is a hard sell in Africa
A Harvest.net, July 22, 2004
AFRICA Harvest CEO, Dr. Florence Wambugu, told global leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summit in Davos, Switzerland, that biotech crops were a hard sell in Africa because private sector players were not dealing with other factors affecting hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
"Although Africa supports biotechnology, there is increasing concern, especially from political leaders, that private companies merely view it as a market. Politicians in Africa know that their largest constituencies continually face the challenges of hunger, poverty and malnutrition".
Dr. Wambugu said African leaders would openly support biotechnology, hence speeding up its adoption, if major industry players began to look holistically at the problems facing the continent.
"There is need to develop Africa-specific strategies. A global or blanket strategy tends to marginalize the African peoples," she told the WEF, attended by, among others, African presidents including the Nigerian President, Olugesun Obasanjo, an ardent supporter of biotechnology.
Dr. Wambugu said those opposed to the technology had effectively exploited the private sector's strategy to spread the myth that biotechnology was harmful.
"Our focus as Africa Harvest has been to provide factual information to Africans. Our experience is that they are not as gullible as the anti-GM lobby groups make them out to be. In particular, African farmers, who have continued to adopt GM technology, especially where it has been commercialized, will only adopt a technology if they confirm that it is beneficial to them".
She said that lack of biotech products that address the needs of Africa has also slowed down open acceptance.
"The global approach of 'one-fits-all' is counter productive. For Africa, capacity building must be part of the overall strategy," she said.
'We already know today that most of the problems that are to be addressed via Golden Rice and other GMOs can be resolved in matter of days, with the right political will.' - Hans Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect
Physiology and Ecology, Kenya
'We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial...' - Delegates from 20 African Countries to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN meeting on Plant Genetic Resources
'Blair's chief scientific adviser is among those who have denounced the United States attempts to force the technology into Africa as a "massive human experiment". In a scathing attack on President Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries "at a time of hunger".'- The Observer
'History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day... Today, patenting of life forms and the genetic engineering which it stimulates, is being justified on the grounds that it will benefit society, especially the poor, by providing better and more food and medicine. But in fact, by monopolising the 'raw' biological materials, the development of other options is deliberately blocked. Farmers therefore, become totally dependent on the corporations for seeds.' - Prof. Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement Kenya
'Dodgy industries selling dubious wares have long headed for the Third World when their activities have been questioned in the West. The biotech industry has been following this well-trodden path ever since consumers in Europe turned against GM food and crops. And these wares have had unprecedented backing from the US government, which has relentlessly bullied reluctant governments in developing countries to accept them.' - Independent on Sunday, GM by the back door
'Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops planted widely are the worst option for food security.'
- Christian Aid, Biotechnology and GM
Why GM is a hard sell in Africa
FOCUS ON AFRICA