Among the lobby groups running side events in Montreal are Monsanto's blackwashers - the Congress of Racial Equality - who project themselves as the defenders of the world's poor and the scourge of Monsanto's critics.
Here's the GM WATCH profile. Go to the webpage for loads of links.
Congress of Racial Equality - CORE
CORE - the Congress of Racial Equality - is an African American group that played a leading role in the American civil rights movement. During the late 1960s, however, CORE all but collapsed and the remnant was taken over by Roy Innis who moved the organisation to the Republican right.
In January 2005 CORE organised two events as their Dr Martin Luther King celebrations. One of these is a 'UN World Conference' promoting GM. The other was CORE's reception at the New York Hilton Hotel where they honoured, amongst others, Green Revolution scientist, Norman Borlaug, and neo-conservative, Karl Rove, George W. Bush's election strategist and the man who oversaw black voter disenfranchisment in Florida and Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.
Past CORE invitees to their King Day celebrations are reported to have included Austrian politician and Nazi-sympathizer Jorg Haider, and right-wing radio host Bob Grant, who once called Dr. King a 'scumbag'.
The Chairman for the New York Hilton reception honouring Rove and Borlaug was Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of Monsanto. Monsanto is also listed as CORE's corporate partner. CORE does not only get support from Monsanto for its campaigning. In 2003 ExxonMobil gave CORE $40,000 ($15,000 of which was earmarked for 'global climate outreach'). (see Black gold?)
CORE's Chairman, Roy Innis, was the 'host' at the Hilton celebrations as well as the opening speaker at CORE's 'UN World Conference' on GM. Roy Innis has proven a curious champion of racial equality. He is said to have called the struggle against Apartheid 'a vicarious, romantic adventure' with 'no honest base,' and when asked in 1973 why his organization supported Idi Amin despite the Ugandan president's hatred of Jewish people and praise of Hitler, he said, 'we have no records to prove if Hitler was a friend or an enemy of black people.' Amin's decision to expel 50,000 Asians from Uganda was hailed by Innis as 'a bold step'.
CORE's GM campaign got underway in 2003. In September 2003 CORE was among groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, taking part in pro-GM protests during the WTO summit in Cancun, Mexico.
A few months earlier, in May 2003, CORE was reported as planning a protest against Greenpeace, alleging that the environmental group had committed 'eco-manslaughter' through the impact of its policies on the developing world. Greenpeace's 'opposition to genetically modified foods' was listed by CORE as among the ways by which 'these zealots' cause 'misery and death'.
Roy Innis's son, Niger, who currently serves as CORE's National Spokesman, was quoted in a press release for the anti-Greenpeace protest as saying, 'The carnage has got to end. People should be ashamed to support these fanatics and the eco-manslaughter they are perpetrating on the world's most destitute people. Today's protest is just the first step in bringing justice to the Third World.'
Roy's son Niger is no stranger to 'counter protest'. The Competitive Enterprise Institute noted the involvement of Innis when reporting a counter protest outside an ExxonMobil shareholder meeting in Dallas: '...faced with the unexpected numbers of free market demonstrators the anti-corporate protestors finally left. "I think we rattled them. They're packing up their bags and they're leaving," said Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality, one of the groups conducting a counter-demonstration. "Victory is sweet."'
In late January 2004 CORE organised a 'Teach-In' in New York entitled, 'Eco-Imperialism: The global green movement's war on the developing world's poor'. Contributors included the lobbyists Patrick Moore, CS Prakash, and Roger Bate. In a press release CORE's Niger Innis, another contributor, said that after the Teach-In 'eco-imperialism' would be a household word, adding, 'We intend to stop this callous eco-manslaughter'.
Another contributor was Paul Driessen of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE), the Godfather among lobby groups attacking the environmental movement. CDFE are also behind The Economic Human Rights Project, descibed as 'an initiative of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, in cooperation with the Congress of Racial Equality', and as a 'growing coalition... dedicated to correcting prevalent environmental myths and misguided policies that help perpetuate poverty, misery, disease and early death in developing countries.' Driessen is also said to be a senior policy advisor to CORE.
Niger Innis also serves as an Advisory Committee member for Project 21 an initiative of the National Center for Public Policy Research - a conservative/free market foundation with a strongly anti-environmental agenda.
Black American journalists Glen Ford and Peter Gamble describe Project 21 as a 'Black front group' and 'a network and nursery for aspiring rightwing operatives'. They are equally scathing about CORE -'a tin cup outstretched to every Hard Right political campaign or cause that finds it convenient - or a sick joke - to hire Black cheerleaders'. They also report how James Farmer, the former head of the original Congress of Racial Equality confronted Roy Innis on TV for turning 'the organization into what Farmer called a "shakedown" gang.' Ford and Gamble describe Innis as a 'gangster "civil rights" caricature'.
Dr. Herschelle S. Challenor, Professor at Clark Atlanta University, in an address on Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, given at the United States Embassy in Kinshasa in January 2000, drew a sharp contrast between the character of Farmer and that of Innis: 'James Farmer, the leader of CORE during the highpoint of the civil rights movement, was a bright, dedicated activist of unimpeachable integrity. His immediate successor, Roy Innis was seen as a chameleon prepared to change his political ideology as necessary. There were rumors that he worked in later years as an FBI informant.'
In 2005 CORE produced a Monsanto-funded video called 'Voice from Africa'. The director and script-writer had worked on previous Monsanto projects. It drew heavily on interviews with GM cotton farmers in South Africa who claimed sizeable benefits from Monsanto's GM cotton. However, a five year study has shown that small-scale South African cotton farmers have not benefited from GM cotton and that the impression that they have is due to media hype created by American biotechnology companies to try and convince the rest of Africa that they should approve genetically modified crops. Another damning report, on the biotechnology industry's showcase projects in Africa, from Aaron deGrassi, a researcher in the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK, came to very similar conclusions.
For more on CORE see The Uncle Tom Award