The WTO case brought by the US and its Coalition of the Unwilling has been described by Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, as "far more than a food fight. In a very real sense, it's the same struggle recently demonstrated in Iraq." And just like the war in Iraq it's propelling into the limelight a very remarkable communicator.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as 'Comical Ali', became a familiar face in homes around the world from the start of the Iraq war. The Information Minister's upbeat delivery of his skewed view of the conflict, together with his extreme and often farcical claims, led to calls for him to be declared the "joker in the pack" in the deck of cards issued to Coalition troops at the end of the war.
Inexplicably, however, the US left him out of its card deck altogether, giving rise to speculation that the Bush regime, impressed by Comical Ali's communicative flair and irrepressible optimism - no matter how dire the situation, were on the look out for their very own Minister of Information, modelled directly on Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Now, with the US moving to all out war on its new battleground - GM crops, there are clear indications that the administration has found its man.
Consider the following:
* Attention was recently drawn to how "renowned Tuskegee scientist Dr. C.S. Prakash" was "a key component" in Uncle Sam's global GM trade war. Significantly, the document in question (exhibit 3 below) notes how Prakash was "one of the principal orators" at the press conference launching the WTO case where he appeared side by side with the administration's 'Trade Representative', the former Enron consultant, Robert B. Zoellick, and its 'Agriculture Secretary', a former director of Calgene (the biotech company that's now a Monsanto subsidiary), Ann M. Veneman.
* In a recent interview arising from his being proclaimed (by a biotech industry front group) among key contributors to the biotech revolution, C.S. Prakash revealingly "attributed his inclusion on the list of scientific heavyweights to the 'need to have a joker in every pack.'" (exhibit 2, below)
We are now able to confirm that Uncle Sam's very own GM Information Minister (code name: Comical Praki) has been generated by advanced genetic processing combined with a special training programme at a secret location, possibly close to Baghdad.
THE TRUTH IS REVEALED HERE - exhibit 1: http://www.ngin.org.uk/comical_ali_animated.gif
There are also rumours that Comical Praki's most brazen claims will soon be disseminated around the globe via weloveunclesamsinformationminister type websites.
In the meantime, here are a few titbits to be going on with:
*Comical Praki has for some time been running his own website and listserv where he has been rehearsing for his current role by posting insane claims accusing critics of genetic engineering, variously, of fascism, communism, imperialism, nihilism, murder, corruption, terrorism, and even genocide; not to mention being worse than Hitler and on a par with the mass murderers who destroyed the World Trade Centre! http://ngin.tripod.com/freesociety.htm
*Comical Praki has similarly tried to "sell" GM crops to governments and resource-poor farmers in the Third World by telling them that GM "doubles production" and that "most genetically-modified crops have longer shelf life"! http://ngin.tripod.com/200802f.htm
*Better still, in a press release last autumn Comical Praki implied critics of GM crops were responsible for the deaths of 10,000 people in the Indian state of Orissa! All the deaths were, in fact, due to a super cyclone. http://www.gene.ch/gentech/2002/Sep/msg00050.html
*Comical Praki has refused to deny that Greenpeace's operations are being financed by the agrochemical industry! http://ngin.tripod.com/270602c.htm
*Comical Praki presents his GM Information Ministry as a mainstream science campaign that "emerged from academic roots and values". He also claims his "information" campaign is completely independent of the biotech industry and its PR operations. However, the evidence shows his website was designed by Monsanto's PR company. They also used to run Comical Praki's e-mail list archive covertly off their server while they and Monsanto contributed poison pen material under aliases for Comical Praki to post prominently on his list. http://ngin.tripod.com/deceit_index.html
Black propaganda, covert operations, Words of Mass Deception... Comical S. Praki's your man!
For more on Comical Praki, see "Channapatna Prakash is the PANTS ON FIRE HOT SHOT OF 2002": http://ngin.tripod.com/pantsoftheyearaward.htm --- Comical Praki - Exhibit 2: BIOTECH COUNCIL RECOGNIZES THREE INDIAN INNOVATORS May 30, 2003 India-West Richard Springer http://www.Indiawest.com
The Council for Biotechnology Information, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of the seven of the world1s leading biotech companies and two trade associations, has named three Indians on a list of 12 biotechnology innovators and pioneers spanning the last 20 years.
Recognized were C.S. Prakash, a professor of plant molecular genetics and director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Gurdev Singh Khush, a consultant for the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute; and Surinder K. Vasal, a distinguished scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Bangkok.
Prakash joined U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman at a press conference in Washington May 13, where the U.S. said it would join Canada, Argentina and Egypt in filing a World Trade Organization case against the European Union over its five-year moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products.
Widely known in the U.S. for running the AgBioWorldWeb Foundation, which features a Web site (www.agbioworld.org) that champions the merits of biotechnology, Prakash has been a frequent commentator and writer in the media on the subject. He also recently organized a pro-biotech agricultural declaration signed by more than 20 Nobel laureates and over 3,200 scientists.
Prakash has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture1s Biotechnology Advisory Committee. He is also currently on an advisory committee of the Government of India1s Department of Biotechnology.
In a phone interview with India-West, Prakash jokingly attributed his inclusion on the list of scientific heavyweights to the 'need to have a joker in every pack.'
'What I do is raise the awareness (of biotechnology), write articles and speak in 30-40 countries around the world,' said Prakash
...Prakash told India-West that the EU has been dragging its feet on the issue and its moratorium violates WTO rules. U.S. agriculture is hurting because it is prohibitively expensive to grow biotech and non-biotech varieties side by side. If there is co-mingling, and it has happened, he said, whole shipments can be rejected.
Prakash opined that it is also not in the best interest of Europe's farmers to ban biotech crops. 'It predisposes itself to a disease epidemic. It doesn't give them the buffer that you have when there are mixed (crops).'
'The European Union has failed to comply with its WTO obligations,' Veneman said at the press conference. 'Biotechnology is helping farmers increase yields, lower pesticide use, improve soil conservation and water pollution, and help reduce hunger and poverty around the world.'
President Bush also blasted the EU for objecting to bio-engineered crops May 21. By closing their markets due to 'unscientific fears,' Bush said, the EU has caused nations to avoid investments in such crops. He said the U.S. move to reduce hunger in Africa has been thwarted by the ban.
The first step in the WTO dispute is for the U.S. and its partners in the WTO action to request consultations in the next 60 days. If no resolution has been achieved, the U.S. and the other countries can seek formation of a dispute settlement panel to hear the case. Dispute settlement procedures, including appeal, typically take about 18 months.
The biotechnology evangelist from Alabama hopes the EU will realize that things like pesticides pose far greater dangers to the food chain than genetically engineered crops. The frequent talk show guest pointed out that the French have been using genetically modified cheese for years with no complaints. --- Comical Praki - Exhibit 3: TUSKEGEE SCIENTIST'S EXPERTISE A KEY COMPONENT OF WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION INITIATIVE Tuskegee University, May 15, 2003 http://www.tuskegee.edu/Global/story.asp?S=1279897&nav=CcWvFqBy
Genetically modified foods have the potential of revolutionizing agrarian societies throughout the world by "addressing hunger, environmental degradation, and poverty by improving agricultural productivity," according to renowned Tuskegee scientist Dr. C.S. Prakash.
Prakash, Professor of Plant Genetics and Director of Tuskegee University's Center for Plant Biotechnology Research, oversees the research on food crops of importance to developing countries and the training of scientists and students in plant biotechnology.
He was recently named the "Face of Innovation" by the Washington, D.C. -based Biotechnology Council which hailed him as one of the "pioneers and visionaries behind the progress and promise of plant biotechnology." Prakash was one of the principal orators May 13 when U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the intention of the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Egypt to file a World Trade Organization case against the European Union over its "illegal five-year moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products."
He also collaborated with Gregory Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., in an op-ed article that appeared in the European Wall Street Journal the same day.
"Because 70 percent of the people living in developing countries are dependent on agriculture, any technology that helps transform agriculture, helps bring an element of profitability, helps cut down the costs in farming and helps to improve the nutritive value of foods is going to benefit the great humanity," Prakash said in his testimony at the media announcement.
"All over the world, the genetic technologies, and many agricultural technologies, have literally transformed and enhanced the quality of life for most people on this planet," Prakash continued. "Yet, the new technologies need to be continuously developed, and it is important that we have another 2 billion people in this world who do not have the luxury of taking their daily food for-granted, but would one day come under the level of food security that we enjoy here today."
According to Prakash, more than 145 million acres of biotech crops were grown in the world in 2002. Worldwide, about 45% of soy, 11% of corn, 20% of cotton and 11% of rapeseed are biotech crops. In the United States, 75% of soy, 34% of corn and 71% of cotton are biotech crops.
The EU implemented a ban on genetically modified foods in October of 1998. Two years later, Prakash organized a pro-agricultural biotech declaration on his popular Web portal, www.agbioworld.org, which was signed by more than 3,200 scientists worldwide, including 20 Nobel Laureates.
"Genetically modified crops neither are new nor dangerous. But they are a more precise method of altering and improving our crops," Prakash said. "We have been genetically modifying crop plants by conventional means for nearly thousands of years, but by more scientific means for the past 100 years." Ambassador Zoellick concurred with Prakash's assertions.
"The EU's moratorium violates WTO rules Biotech food helps nourish the world's hungry population, offers tremendous opportunities for better health and nutrition and protects the environment by reducing soil erosion and pesticide use," said Zoellick.