Angry African Reaction to GM Seed Arrogance
By Trevor Wells Rallyround, August 6 2007 http://www.flag-sa.org/blog/rallyround.html
"We in the alliance will not incorporate GMO's in our programmes. We shall work with farmers using traditional seeds." - Kofi Annan
According to the Africa News Network the Zambian Government today reacted angrily to a presumptuous press release by the industry front "African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum" (ABSF).
The Zambian Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ben Kapita, said, "We have always said that Zambia will not be used as a dumping place for GMO products."
The press release issued by the industry-backed ABSF confirms "the stay away from GMO's" approach of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced by the newly appointed Chair Kofi Annan.
This hands off approach was confirmed at the annual conference of the Grantmakers Without Borders (GWOB). Roy Steiner, Senior Program Officer Agricultural Development, Gates Foundation and Gary Toenniessen of the Rockefeller Foundation, reaffirmed,clearly and uncategorically that "AGRA is not investing in GM breeding."
The aggrieved industry front organisations belonging to ABSF are:
*Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (AHBFI) *Biotechnology-Ecology Research and Outreach Consortium (BioEROC) *International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).
Up to the appointment of Kofi Annan this happy quartet had it all their own way promoting corporate profit in the name of the poor.
Six months prior to the appointment of Kofi Annan they were proudly claiming to be the only truly legitimate representatives of African farmers.
Things looked even better for them when the Gates Foundation employed Monsanto's "African Expert" Robert Horsch. AGRA was sure to be in their hands.
Florence Wambugu's AHBFI website flies a banner "We support the Gates/Rockefeller New Green Revolution for Africa."
What went wrong?
Why are they not on AGRA's membership list?
Why did Kofi Annan announce that AGRA will not touch GMO's?
Why have they been snubbed? And for sure they have been snubbed. Precisely, cleanly, surgically snubbed.
BioEROC from Malawi is new on the block, but back in 2002 the original trio attempted to masquerade as independent organisations to gain access to the Panel of the Biotechnology and GMO Commission of the Civil Society Forum at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The International organisers rejected their repeated attempts on the basis that they belonged to the Industry Forum and were well known as professional industry lobbyists.
Having failed to gain access to the panel they then attempted to hijack the whole proceedings by staging a walkout of the Forum together with TJ Buthelezi 's farmers' association, Kisan Coordination Committee and Federation of Farmers Association from India.
Let us examine the Mother organisation, Africabio. I say Mother because Monsanto is the Big Daddy.
Africabio operates as a secret society and persistently refuses to reveal their membership. It is known however that several of their members were on the advisory committee to the GM regulatory authority of the South African Government at the time that the controversial anti-biotic resistant GM potato was guided through the regulatory system.
Industry has tight control over the voting of this organisation. In fact Monsanto with all its subsidiaries has total control.
Here is a list of the voting rights of members:
Annual Membership Fees #Cost (Excl VAT) Voting Rights* for Ordinary Members
- Business Members R6 000-00 5 Votes
- Research Organisations R3 000-00 2 Votes
- Professional Members R 100-00 1 Vote for Associate Members
- Trade Organisations R3 000-00 No Vote
- Associate Companies R1 000-00 No Vote for Students R 50-00 No Vote for Schools R 50-00 No Vote for Honorary Members R 0 No Vote
The members of ABSF and their press agent Hans Lombard, affectionately known as "Gold Dollar Hansie" have consistently been linked to an American political organisation calling themselves Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
He [Lombard] obtained this affectionate name because he can always be relied upon to replicate the logic of the advertisement:
"100 million Americans can't be wrong! Smoke Gold Dollar! Not a cough nor a wheeze!"
In their Manifesto, CORE openly claims that they are the corporate partners of Monsanto. CORE came to South Africa and made a movie called "Voices from Africa". Africabio proudly showed repeat performances of this to all Government officials they could find, including the team who were supposed to represent South Africa at the Cartenga Protocol talks.
Press agent Lombard's most photographed media attraction, TJ Buthelezi, starred in that movie.
It then leaked out that CORE, in fact, had links to secret agents of the old apartheid they government. Not only did they support Idi Amin, but formed a black lobby organization to directly represent South Africa in 1985. A reported rate of US$400,000 a year was paid by the apartheid regime. A key figure, Keyes, was a contributing editor of the American newspaper the Lincoln Review.
Black Americans linked to CORE operated from the South African embassy in the USA When the Information Scandal eventually leaked out, it was revealed that the apartheid regime had even diverted secret defense funds to purchase the Washington Star through it's American press connections.
Where there was money there was always an agent who would sell his soul.
Prime Minister John Vorster admitted that he knew about the bribery and corruption. He resigned in disgrace.
More recently, CORE's Senior Policy Advisor, Paul Driessen, wrote a book entitled "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death".
The book was published as "an initiative of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, in cooperation with the Congress of Racial Equality". This group have strong ties to the South African Free Market Foundation which claims that global warming is a myth created by Al Gore based on unfounded, unscientific fears.
The membership list contains some previously well respected and surprising names and includes major oil companies in bed with the usual eco-criminals . (US Government Busts Monsanto for Bribery)
CORE's book claims that hunger and suffering of millions of the world's poor is caused by eco-terrorists who deny starving children the benefits of genetically engineered food." The book aims "to bring justice to the third world and to correct prevalent environmental myths and misguided policies that help perpetuate poverty, misery, disease and early death in developing countries."
On 8th May, 2003 CORE announced the commencement of it's Third World Eco-justice Campaign.
In the next week George W. Bush accused Europe of undercutting efforts to feed starving Africans by blocking genetically modified crops because of "unfounded, unscientific fears."
Bush also called on European governments to "join - not hinder - the great cause of ending hunger in Africa".
The following day, the Bush administration announced plans to sue the European Union at the World Trade Organisation unless it opened up its markets to American GM products.
At the press conference at which the WTO case against EU restrictions on GM imports was announced, TJ Buthelezi was at the side of the US Trade Representative, Robert B. Zoellick. Buthelezi claimed to be representative of African opinion.
The WTO case was filed by the US in the name of Africa. Egypt was the only country in the whole of Africa which the US Government had managed to bully into supporting their initiative. Egypt promptly disassociated itself from the US action. The US immediately retaliated by withdrawing from planned bilateral trade talks.
In reality Africa spoke with one voice against the US case against Europe.
Then their was the infamous affair a la Wambugu. A term coined by a respected American patriot and scholar.
Florence Wambugu, a young Kenyan Ph.D was spotted by Monsanto's scout Robert Horsch. Together with Joel Cohen of the US Government they arranged for her to do a three year post doctoral thesis in Monsanto's laboratories. The US Government paid the bill.
She returned from the US with a Monsanto patented GM sweetpotato resistant to an American virus. After tying down 16 Ph.D scientists at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) for twelve years; they eventually abandoned their attempts to cross this with a local sweetpotato. The Monsanto patented gene was not resistant to the local African sweetpotato virus.
This 'experiment' cost over US$6 million
Horsch of Monsanto used Kenya, Florence and the useless American gene as a PR gimmick to facilitate the passing of legislation favourable to Monsanto GM products. All under the "Save the starving Africans" slogan. Thus his appointment to the Gates Foundation was viewed with extreme suspicion.
In contrast, an unadulterated sweet potato, resistant to the African virus, was bred by conventional breeders in Uganda on a low budget. This sweetpotato was not only popular with the people but yielded 100% more than the failed Monsanto patent.
Her next failure was the so called Dupont Biofortified Sorghum. All bases were covered. The path to clear "Africa's gift" to save the poor was carefully prepared. It was going to be as easy as the anti-biotic resistant potato which had been guided through the regulatory system by the same players.
What they did not count upon was that the newly structured Executive Committee of the South African GMO Regulatory Authority would apply due dilligence. Scientific research proved that the American gene would adulterate all indigenous African varieties. The application was rejected.
It was now being whispered in the corridors of power that the sun has risen on a new era of respect for Africa. Cabinet Ministers who once sought to be photographed alongside Florence, now removed her from their portfolios.
At the time or just before she received the Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenge in Global Health award she was employed as an adviser to the Gates Foundation.
It is said throughout Africa that Melinda Gates should have first asked Bill "How many starving children would have been saved if the US$18,5 million was used for training in poultry keeping and food gardening?". Indigenous sorghum and its brewers grain is the preferred food of the African chicken. An egg a day would supply more protein and Vitamin A than a kilogram of American GM sorghum. There is an old African saying. Sorghum fed free range chickens "Taste so good 'cause they Eat so Good".