9 November 2002
DEVINDER SHARMA ARTICLE/USA TRADE DESIGNS ON AFRICA/GE CROPS REJECTED BY THE SOUTH
The Bush Administration appears to be looking to negotiations for a free trade agreement with Southern African countries to support its GMO push, seeking to "eliminate ”¦ unjustified trade restrictions that affect new USA technologies" and "to eliminate SACU country practices that adversely affect USA exports of perishable or cyclical agricultural products" (item 3)
The coalition of NGOs who have signed up to the statement on USAID and GMOs being pushed on Africa is growing. To see the list go to: http://www.peoplesearthdecade.org/media/article.php?id=63
1. GE CROPS REJECTED BY THE SOUTH - P A N U P S Resource Pointer
2. NEW Devinder Sharma article on the GM mustard issue
3. Africa Faith & Justice Network: USA Trade Designs on Africa!
1. GE CROPS REJECTED BY THE SOUTH
November 8, 2002
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (P A N U P S)
Resource Pointer #298
Force-Feeding the World: America's 'GM or Death' Ultimatum to Africa Reveals the Depravity of its GM Marketing Policy, 2002* Robert Vint, Genetic Food Alert. Challenges the agrochemical industry's public relations claims that genetically engineered (GE) crops are necessary to feed a hungry world.
Contrasts these claims with GE opposition by governments and citizen groups worldwide. Documents cases of US forcing GE food into Mexico, Sri Lanka, India, China, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Bosnia, Equador, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Philippines, more. 7 pages. Contact Genetic Food Alert, 4 Bertram House, Ticklemore St, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5EJ, UK; phone (18-03) 868523; email
Ayuda Alimentaria y Organismos Transgenicos, (Foreign Food Aid and Transgenic Crops), 2002* Elizabeth Bravo, ed. Discusses the politics of, presence of, and resistance to genetically engineered (GE) crops in international food aid.
Questions the use of disaster relief by developed countries as a tool for building markets and creating dependence on GE crops in developing countries.
Record Harvest, Record Hunger: Starving in GE Argentina, 2002 Greenpeace. Challenges the myths that genetically engineered (GE) crops increase yield and food security. Notes that despite large annual harvests and exports, there is increasing poverty in Argentina. Links increased poverty and hunger in Argentina to unequal land distribution and increased food costs. Argues that GE crops are not the solution to world hunger. 8 pages. Download free at http://www.greenpeace.org. Contact Greenpeace, Genetic Engineering Campaign, Chausseestr. 131, 10115 Berlin, Germany; phone (49-30) 30 88 99 14; fax (49-30) 30 88 99 30; Web site http://www.greenpeace.org.
2. GM Mustard Will Play Havoc With Food Chain
By Devinder Sharma
If the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment & Forests has its way, the next time you eat your favourite sarson ka saag or enjoy the delicacy of samber, you will not know whether these are safe for your health. Such are the potential dangers of the industrial prescriptions for the food menu that the gullible and ignorant consumer will never get to know what caused the ailment.
Seven months after it gave a nod for sale of genetically modified seed of Bt cotton and that too under dubious circumstances and without adequate tests, the GEAC is now ready to grant commercial approval to a genetically modified mustard Ë† the first genetically engineered food crop with a few alien genes to be released in India. The GEACs decision to Å’defer”š the approval for the time being is merely to buy time and escape the fury of public opinion.
At the heart of the controversy is the genetically modified mustard developed by the Pro-Agro Seeds India Private Limited, the Indian arm of the multinational Aventis with PGS, a Belgian company. This GM mustard is claimed to be resistant to glufosinate, a broad-spectrum herbicide, and the company claims that the gene modification will help increase mustard productivity by 20-25 per cent.
Initially, the seed manufacturers had dovetailed pesticides and fertilisers with the sale of improved seeds. Now, the companies are incorporating the genetic character for herbicide-tolerance that in reality helps increase the sale of its own brand of chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that the usage of the chemical actually increases in herbicide-tolerant plants thereby negating the industry”šs claim that it is producing crops that require less pesticides and therefore do less harm to the environment.
Pro-Agro has developed this genetically modified mustard that resists glufosinate, its own brand of herbicide. So, in reality Pro-Agro will kill two birds with one stone -- sell the GM seed as well as the herbicide. For the simple reason that if you don't use glufosinate you will not be able to control the weeds. Farmers buying GM seeds will now be left with a Hobson”šs choice to also purchase Pro-Agro”šs herbicide. Thanks to GEAC, GM mustard will ensure Å’profit security”š for the company. Pro-Agro denies this, saying that glufosinate is not registered for use on mustard. But in reality, the herbicide is already approved for tea gardens and can easily find its way into mustard fields.
Notwithstanding the excitement that the GEAC has over the development of a genetically modified mustard, the fact remains that these alien genes in mustard, which is an important food crop in India, provides no advantages to the consumers. On the other hand, it comes laced with all kinds of potential dangers for the people that the committee wants to gloss over. Surprisingly, the average citizen, who uses mustard for various purposes, including its common use as edible oil, green and leafy vegetables, for body and hair massage and for fodder purposes, are not even being consulted.
GM mustard is being developed to increase productivity of mustard to meet the ever-growing demand of edible oils in the country. This is contradictory to government's own policy of opening up the edible oil sector to import of cheaper oils. Strange that government's policies are actually aimed at destroying the gains of the Technology Mission on Oilseeds launched by the Late Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. The doubling of oilseeds production during 1985-1993 had enabled the country to avoid the humiliating dependence on import of oil costing the exchequer annually Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 3,000 crore.
From 11 million tones in 1986-87, oilseeds production had zoomed to 22 million tones by 1994-95, India had moved from being a net importer of oilseeds to a net exporter, with only negligible imports. But then began the dramatic turnaround, which destroyed the strong foundations of oilseeds self-sufficiency. India deliberately began lowering the import duties enabling the cheaper edible oils to flow in. India now imports on an average five million tones of edible oils, roughly 50 per cent of its domestic requirement, costing the state exchequer more than Rs 12,000 crore. If it is serious in increasing production of edible oils, the first step is to stop the unwanted imports.
The government”šs policy therefore is very clear: help sustain farmers outside the country. Cheaper imports help private companies in edible oil exporting countries and the introduction of genetically engineered crops too helps private seed companies. Safeguard for farmers by way of procurement and assured prices are being slowly dismantled to enable the corporate sector to move in and push the farming communities out of agriculture.
In the past four years, with the Eurpopean Union”šs moratorium on new GM crops and its reluctance to buy GM food, the grindingly slow, impossibly twisting European road to legal acceptance of the crops gets ever more bogged down. The companies claim they have lost US $12 billion of sales in the past four years, and the commission is now coming under mounting pressure from impatient US trade officials. With EU still holding on to the moratorium, the focus has shifted to countries like India to open up to GM foods and crops and thereby add to the multitude of problems that the farmers are already confronted with.
In Canada, scientists have found that its related species of engineered canola (rapeseed) has become an uncontrollable weed. There are at least three 'superweeds' that have already come up in canola and considering the small farm size and the diversity available in India, the probability of such 'superweeds' developing is much greater. Scientific studies also show that genetically engineered crops can cause insecticides to build up in soils, cause food chain effects, transfer genes to wild relatives, and contaminate natural crops. Says Martin Entz, professor of Agronomy at the University of Manitoba (Canada): "GM canola has, in fact, spread much more rapidly than we thought it would. It's absolutely impossible to control... It's been a great wake-up call about the side effects of these GM technologies."
The threat posed by pollen from GM varieties blowing into organic fields is now seen in Europe as a potentially significant cost. Seed pollution, the so-called "pollution" from the GM crops has also led to a fierce debate in Canada after Monsanto successfully prosecuted a 70-year-old Canadian farmer for growing its crops without paying the usual fees to the company. The farmer, Percy Schmesier accepted that Monsanto's patented gene was present in his crop of oil-seed rape, which is known in America as canola. But Mr Schmeiser claimed that Monsanto's gene had got there by accident after being blown in from neighbouring fields.
"Gene stacking" in GM crops is a major concern, more so for mustard/rapeseed. Stacking describes what happens when more than one GM trait is found in the same plant, because of cross-pollination in the field. The agronomic and ecological impacts of cumulative transgene stacking are poorly understood and this may lead to farmers using more herbicides... potentially resulting in increased damage to biodiversity. It can also lead to "the gradual development of weediness in native species". If a neighbouring farm also unknowingly used GM-contaminated seed, this would be an obvious way for stacking to occur.
The genetically modified mustard is in reality a hybrid. And like any other hybrid, it requires to be cultivated under more intensive farming practices. At a time when sustainable farming and low-input agriculture is the buzzword, it is surprising that agricultural scientists continue to recommend crop varieties that will end up doing more harm to the environment and crop fields. GM mustard will require almost double the quantity of fertilizers and water thereby accentuating the sustainability barriers that the green revolution areas are already faced with. On the one hand the government is asking farmers in Punjab, Haryana and UP to diversify from the exhaustive wheat-rice rotation and on the other hand is recommending crops that do more damage to soil ecology and health, just to appease the industry.
Health concerns include: allergenicity; gene transfer, especially of antibiotic-resistant genes, from GM foods to cells or bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract; and "outcrossing", or the movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops, posing indirect threats to food safety and security. Strange that food additives like artificial sweetners are required to be subject to both long term animal and human volunteer trials prior to approval but not GM foods. Food additives, so it would appear from the British Food Standard's Agency's comments, have to undergo testing to establish possible damaging effects from long term exposure and the trials can take years. This is despite the fact that, unlike GM material, food additives do not have the same ability to spread themselves throughout the environment and food chain once created. Now we are learning that even these food additive tests aren't up to the job with health problems only becoming scientifically identified years after approval. But still we refuse to learn from experience.
GM mustard can affect honey bees directly and indirectly through effecting flowering and pollen production. Protease inhibitors have proved to be detrimental to the longevity and behavior of bees. GM crops with protease inhibitors released for commercial production include potato, canola (rapeseed) and creeping bentgrass. Some scientists therefore think that the sound and logical approach would be to totally ban commercial production of GM crops modified with protease inhibitor genes to protect bees and to prevent long-term damage to the entire environment.
The Royal Society of England has already asked for more tests to know the impact of GM food on infants and children. Dr Vivian Howard, a toxicologist at Liverpool University, recently told the BBC's World Business Review programme that there was a need to check if the new foods were toxic for infants and what other biological effects there might be. Dr Howard used the example of the thalidomide drug that was widely used in the 1960s before it was discovered to be dangerous. No such studies have been done globally, what to talk of India.
3. Africa Faith & Justice Network: USA Trade Designs on Africa!
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 16:53:24 -0500
Subject: USA Trade Designs on Africa!
Attached is a letter from USA Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, sent on or about 04 November 02 to leaders in the USA House and Senate. It is official notification of the Bush Administration's intent to engage in negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) - RSA, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia & Swaziland. While it relates only to the SACU, it has implications for all of Africa, laying out the USA's trade objectives.
The letter makes clear the USA's intention to advance its own trade interests, offset EU trade advantages with Africa, link trade to SACU development strategies, promote regional integration, push IPRs, combat restrictions on USA services firms, and augment TRIPS!
There is language that, to me, clearly includes a GMO push, viz: "eliminate ... unjustified trade restrictions that affect new USA technologies" and "seek to eliminate SACU country practices that adversely affect USA exports of perishable or cyclical agricultural products."
USA ag subsidies will be protected, while subsidies by others are rejected, viz: "pursue a mechanism with SACU that will support achieving the USA objective in WTO negotiations of eliminating export subsidies on agricultural products, while maintaining the right to provide bona fide food aid and preserving USA agricultural market development & export credit programs." (Also a likely GMO reference in "bona fide food aid").
Zoellick makes clear the USA intent to use FTA negotiations to advance its objectives in multi-lateral negotiations at the WTO. Tellingly, the USA will use ongoing bilateral and multilateral development assistance and trade-related technical assistance to get SACU countries to support an FTA.
For those who have followed the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) with its central promise of opening USA markets to African textiles & apparel, it's interesting that in these negotiations the USA will also "pursue fully reciprocal access to the SACU market for USA textile & apparel products."
Please take Zoellick's letter seriously as you track, and influence in any way possible, African governments' positions in these negotiations with the USA.
Larry J. Goodwin
Africa Faith & Justice Network
3035 Fourth Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017
ph. 202 832 3412
fx. 202 832 9051
Amb. Zoellick sent this letter to Sen. Byrd on or about 04 November 2002. He sent the same letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert.
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
President Pro Tempore
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Byrd:
At the direction of the President, I am pleased to notify the Congress that the President intends to initiate negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the five member countries of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, hereinafter 3SACU2) on or after 90 days from the date of this letter. This notification is in accordance with section 2104(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 2002.
As you are aware, the Administration is committed to bringing back trade agreements that open markets to benefit our farmers, workers, businesses, and families. With the Congress1 continued help, we can move promptly to advance America1s trade interests.
In pursuing a negotiation with SACU, we are responding to Congress1 direction, as expressed in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), to initiate negotiations with interested beneficiary countries to serve as the catalyst for increasing free trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa and for increasing private sector investment in the region.
A free trade agreement with SACU would deepen our economic and political ties to sub-Saharan Africa and lend momentum to our development efforts for the region. SACU is the largest U.S. export market in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for approximately $3.1 billion in exports in 2001. Total two-way trade between the United States and SACU was approximately $7.9 billion in 2001.
Since 2002, U.S. trade preferences provided to sub-Saharan countries through AGOA have contributed significantly to sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation in the region. By moving from one-way trade preferences to a reciprocal free trade agreement, we will build on the success of AGOA Ë† expanding U.S. access to SACU markets, further linking trade to SACU's economic development strategies, encouraging greater foreign direct investment, and promoting regional integration and economic growth.
We plan to use our negotiations with the SACU countries to strengthen growing bilateral commercial ties and to address barriers in these countries to U.S. exports Ë† including high tariffs on certain goods, overly restrictive licensing measures, inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, and restrictions the SACU governments impose that make it difficult for our services firms to do business in these markets. We also see the negotiations as an opportunity to advance U.S. objectives for the multilateral negotiations currently underway in the World Trade Organization (WTO). We will also seek to level the playing field in areas where U.S. exporters are disadvantaged by the European Union's free trade agreement with South Africa.
In recent years, the SACU countries have made important strides in implementing economic reforms and in lifting their people out of poverty. A free trade agreement will reinforce the reforms that have taken place, and will encourage additional progress where needed. An enhanced framework of rules governing trade and close cooperation between our governments will have a profound effect in promoting stronger economies, greater respect for the rule of law, sustainable development, and accountable institutions of governance.
SACU governments, businesses, and citizens regard a possible free trade agreement negotiation with the United States from a similarly broad perspective, and consider such a negotiation to be an important opportunity to move their societies forward economically, politically, and socially. Our exploratory dialogue with SACU during 2002 about a possible free trade agreement has given strong evidence that these countries are ready, individually and collectively, to be free trade partners. As we move forward, we will focus ongoing bilateral and multilateral development assistance and trade-related technical assistance to support commitments these countries will make as part of the FTA, and to strengthen the government institutions in SACU countries that will be responsible for implementing their commitments.
Since early 2002, the Administration has consulted with Members of Congress regarding the broad concept of a U.S.-SACU FTA. Initial consultations indicate broad bipartisan interest in an agreement with SACU. The Administration will continue to consult closely with Congress in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act (3TPA Act2). Moreover, to ensure that interested stakeholders are informed of the negotiations and have ample opportunity to provide their views, the negotiations will be conducted in a way that enhances transparency and accessibility.
Our specific objectives for negotiations with the SACU countries are as follows:
o Trade in Industrial Goods and Agriculture:
-- Seek to eliminate tariffs and other duties and charges on trade between SACU countries and the United States on the broadest possible basis, subject to reasonable adjustment periods for import-sensitive products.
-- Seek agreement by SACU countries to join the WTO Information Technology Agreement.
-- Seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers in SACU countries to U.S. exports, including licensing barriers, unjustified trade restrictions that affect new U.S. technologies, and other non-tariff measures identified by U.S. exporters.
-- Pursue favorable staging of tariff elimination and other market access commitments from SACU countries that improve the competitive position of U.S. goods vis-Ã¡-vis those of the European Union in SACU markets.
-- Pursue fully reciprocal access to the SACU market for U.S. textile and apparel products.
-- Pursue a mechanism with SACU countries that will support achieving the U.S. objective in the WTO negotiations of eliminating all export subsidies on agricultural products, while maintaining the right to provide bona fide food aid and preserving U.S. agricultural market development and export credit programs.
-- Seek to eliminate SACU country practices that adversely affect U.S. exports of perishable or cyclical agricultural products, while improving U.S. import relief mechanisms as appropriate.
o Customs Matters, Rules of Origin, and Enforcement Cooperation:
-- Seek rules to require that customs operations of SACU and SACU countries are conducted with transparency, efficiency, and predictability and that customs laws, regulations, and decisions of SACU and SACU countries are not applied in a manner that create unwarranted procedural obstacles to U.S. exports.
-- Seek terms for cooperative efforts with the SACU governments regarding enforcement of customs and related issues, including trade in textiles and apparel.
-- Seek rules of origin, procedures for applying these rules, and provisions to address circumvention matters that will ensure that preferential duty rates under the FTA apply only to goods eligible to receive such treatment, without creating unnecessary obstacles to trade.
o Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures:
-- Seek to have the SACU countries reaffirm their WTO commitments on SPS measures and eliminate any unjustified SPS restrictions.
-- Seek to strengthen collaboration with SACU countries in implementing the WTO SPS Agreement and to enhance cooperation with SACU countries in relevant international bodies on developing international SPS standards, guidelines, and recommendations.
o Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT):
-- Seek to have the SACU countries reaffirm their WTO TBT commitments and eliminate any unjustified TBT measures.
-- Seek to strengthen collaboration with SACU countries on implementation of the WTO TBT Agreement and create a procedure for exchanging information with the SACU countries on TBT-related issues.
o Intellectual Property Rights:
-- Seek to establish standards that reflect a standard of protection similar to that found in U.S. law and that build on the foundations established in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs Agreement) and other international intellectual property agreements, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
-- Establish commitments for SACU countries to strengthen significantly their domestic enforcement procedures, such as by ensuring that government agencies may initiate criminal proceedings on their own initiative and seize suspected pirated and counterfeit goods, equipment used to make or transmit these goods, and documentary evidence. Seek to strengthen measures in SACU countries that provide for compensation of right holders for infringements of intellectual property rights and to provide for criminal penalties under the laws of SACU countries that are sufficient to have a deterrent effect on piracy and counterfeiting.
o Trade in Services:
-- Pursue disciplines to address discriminatory and other barriers to trade in the SACU countries1 services markets. Pursue an ambitious approach to market access, including enhanced access for U.S. services firms to telecommunications and any other appropriate services sectors in SACU markets.
-- Seek improved transparency and predictability of SACU countries1 regulatory procedures, specialized disciplines for financial services, and additional disciplines for telecommunications services and other sectors as necessary.
-- Seek appropriate provisions to ensure that the SACU countries will facilitate the temporary entry of U.S. business persons into their territories, while ensuring that any commitments by the United States are limited to temporary entry provisions and do not require any changes to U.S. laws and regulations relating to permanent immigration and permanent employment rights.
-- Seek to establish rules that reduce or eliminate artificial or trade-distorting barriers to U.S. investment in SACU countries, while ensuring that investors of SACU countries in the United States are not accorded greater substantive rights with respect to investment protections than U.S. investors in the United States, and to secure for U.S. investors in SACU countries important rights comparable to those that would be available under U.S. legal principles and practice.
-- Seek to ensure that U.S. investors receive treatment as favorable as that accorded to domestic or other foreign investors in SACU countries and to address unjustified barriers to the establishment and operation of U.S. investments in those countries. Provide procedures to resolve disputes between U.S. investors and the governments of SACU countries that are in keeping with the Trade Promotion Authority goals of making such procedures expeditious, fair and transparent.
o Electronic Commerce:
-- Seek to affirm that the SACU countries will allow goods and services to be delivered electronically on terms that promote the development and growth of electronic commerce.
-- Seek to ensure that the SACU countries do not apply customs duties in connection with digital products or unjustifiably discriminate among products delivered electronically.
o Government Procurement:
-- Seek to establish rules requiring government procurement procedures and practices in the SACU countries to be fair, transparent, and predictable for suppliers of U.S. goods and services who seek to do business with the SACU governments.
-- Seek to expand access for U.S. goods and services to SACU government procurement markets.
o Transparency/Anti-Corruption/Regulatory Reform:
-- Seek to make the SACU countries1 administration of their trade regimes more transparent and pursue rules that will permit timely and meaningful public comment before the SACU governments adopt trade-related measures.
-- Seek to ensure that the SACU countries adopt and apply high standards prohibiting corrupt practices that affect international trade and enforce such prohibitions.
o Trade Remedies:
-- Provide a bilateral safeguard mechanism during the transition period.
-- Make no changes to U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws.
o Labor, including Child Labor:
-- Based upon a review and analysis of their labor laws and practices, establish procedures for consultations and cooperative activities with the SACU countries to strengthen their capacity to promote respect for core labor standards, including compliance with ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor, building on technical assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.
-- Seek an appropriate commitment from SACU countries to the effective enforcement of their labor laws.
-- Establish that SACU countries will strive to ensure that they will not, as an encouragement for trade or investment, weaken or reduce the protections provided for in their labor laws.
-- Seek to promote trade and environment policies that are mutually supportive.
-- Seek an appropriate commitment by the SACU countries to the effective enforcement of their environmental laws.
-- Establish that the SACU countries will strive to ensure that they will not, as an encouragement for trade, weaken or reduce the protections provided for in their environmental laws.
-- Seek to assist the SACU countries to strengthen their capacity to protect the environment through the promotion of sustainable development, such as by establishing consultative mechanisms.
o State-to-State Dispute Settlement:
-- Encourage the early identification and settlement of disputes through consultation.
-- Seek to establish fair, transparent, timely, and effective procedures to settle disputes arising under the agreement.
In addition, the FTA will take into account other legitimate U.S. objectives including, but not limited to, the protection of legitimate health or safety, essential security, and consumer interests.
We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. workers, ranchers, farmers, businesses, and families, by pursuing these specific objectives and the overall and principal U.S. negotiating objectives set out in the TPA Act. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress over the coming weeks and after negotiations with SACU begin. Working together, we can reach a successfulconclusion that will benefit the United States and the SACU countries and support our broader objectives.
Robert B. Zoellick