1.Monsanto & co. want to control Bangladeshi ag
2.Don't Rush GMO Use in Tanzania
1.Some US firms 'want to control local agricultural production'
Financial Express, 27 April 2005
A top environmental group said Tuesday that some American multinational companies want to control Bangladesh's agriculture production through supplying seed that is sterile and harmful to environment.
The environmental pressure group, Ubinig, said that the American government is promoting those companies and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already started its works to make Bangladesh its seed-colony.
Executive director of Ubinig Farida Akhter told journalists at a press conference that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed giant Monsanto (new name Pharmacia) wants to control food production of the developing world by "destroying their agriculture."
This GMO seed does not yield better than other high yielding varieties that are already being used in the country. This seed causes gene pollution and affects bio-diversity. The seed is sterile and does not have multiplication capacity.
Local GMO seed importers say the seed is productive and will help Bangladesh achieve self-sufficiency in food. The seed will offer higher per acre yield in a country where arable land is shrinking.
"The only way Monsanto can grab our agriculture is to destroy established farming of Bangladesh and take control of seeds," Farida said adding it is not at all true that GMO foods have better nutrients.
She said many multinational companies are pushing the government hard to legalise import of GM foods and seeds.
"We have been made dependent permanently on insecticides and pesticides and now they (multinational companies) want us to depend on them for seeds," said the Ubinig leader.
Farida said there is no strong scientific proof that GMO food is better by any means than the high yielding and local varieties.
She said GMO foods sometimes lack basic nutrients and sometimes it contains overdoses that in fact cause health hazards.
Farida said if rice like "Golden Rice" was imported, farmers would turn into American or multinationals' contract growers and would lose their ancient culture of farming.
Ubinig believes Bangladeshis are already consuming GM soybean oil, maze, gram seed, fast foods, which contain toxic agents.
The environmental pressure group have warned against importation of any GM foods and seeds, urging the government to declare Bangladesh a "GM Food Free" country.
"Please ban any GM food in Bangladesh or unless we will organise massive agitation," Farida said.
2.Don't Rush GMO Use in Tanzania, Says Organic Body
The East African (Nairobi), April 25, 2005
As parliament is scheduled to debate and approve the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) mid this year, the secretariat of the committee for the establishment of the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), called it "an unnecessary rush."
Jordan Gama, the secretary to the committee, said last week that there was an unnecessary rush on the part of some government officials and local scientists, especially the Arusha-based Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), to introduce
GMOs in the country even before the biosafety law is in place.
"We should stop the rush to introduce GMOs in Tanzania until proved safe and conducive to smallholder farmers, our health and to our environment, Mr Gama stated.
He said there should be a national public debate on GMOs, and all Tanzanians should be given a chance to know what are GMOs and who is pushing for their use in the country, what is the economic impact on small-scale farmers and Tanzania's exports,
especially to the European Union, and the possible health and environmental risks.
According to Gama, before the introduction of GMOs, Tanzanian small farmers should have a say, "Since genetic engineering isn't a normal technology, and once introduced, field trials could eventually have massive negative impacts on people's livelihood and
environment that could be irreversible."
"The majority of the investment in the production of GM crops is in the hands of large transnational corporations that are profit-driven, and GM crops are patented by these companies, which will force the smallscale farmers in Africa to depend on them forever, said Mr Gama.
"We therefore say the country needs a 10-year moratorium on GMOs while consulting stakeholders on the technology and building capacity to handle the risks, he added.
Early this year, the Director of Research at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Jeremiah Haki, was quoted as saying a Cabinet paper on GMO policy has already been prepared and parliament is scheduled to debate and approve the approach GMO technologies mid this year.
Dr Haki further said, "Tanzania, which largely depends on agriculture, cannot afford to ignore technologies that increase crop yields and profits and reduce farm costs.
Earlier, Wilfred Ngirwa, the permanent secretary in the ministry had issued a statement saying the ministry has, "proactively participated in the development of a national policy for biotechnology that will soon be tabled in the parliament."
This policy will give overall guidance on all issues related to biotechnology including priority areas for research and development, regulatory framework, sustainable use of biodiversity and resource requirements.
Mr Ngirwa said that, in the interim, the ministry has established the Agricultural Biotechnology Scientific Advisory Committee (ABSAC) to advise the minister on issues related to GMO including their importation, safe handling and testing.
South Africa is the only African country that is already commercially producing GM crops. Tanzania is among the countries that ratified the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety, an international law negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity that has basic requirements for member countries to comply with when pursuing GMO technology.
Tanzania will later in the year start confined field trials of cotton in the south of the country in a government move to halt the spread of the redball worm disease that had hit the cotton crop.