On 25-26 February the UK environment secretary Owen Paterson and the EU's chief lobbyist (sorry, scientist) Anne Glover will promote GMOs at a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (NOTE: Update 15 Feb: Good news for Africa – Paterson has pulled out).
Also speaking will be a large number of well known GM evangelists from Europe, such as Matin Qaim and Joachim Schiemann. The event is organised by EASAC, a European body that authored an extremely biased report on GM.
According to documents leaked to GMWatch, Paterson has "confirmed" that he will attend.
According to the same documents, among this horde of rich white Europeans anxious to promote GM, one of only two token "suggested African keynote speakers" is Calestous Juma. Juma, however, has been based in the US for years and is also a staunch proponent of GMOs. He directs the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an investor in Monsanto.
The event is apparently aimed at giving the appearance of a European stamp of approval to GMOs, even though the majority of the European Union's citizens oppose GM in food and agriculture. The extent of this opposition was made clear when a recent attempt to approve a Dupont GM maize for cultivation in the EU was opposed by 19 nations, with only 5 supporting approval. It was also overwhelmingly opposed by the European Parliament, which recently voted by a nearly two-thirds majority against authorization, reflecting the views of 61% of Europeans who do not support GMO foods.
Unsurprisingly, the biotech industry is in retreat in Europe, with corporations like BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto all halting the development and commercialisation of GM crops here.
Owen Paterson hypes GMOs while Britain drowns
Owen Paterson is best known in the UK for two things. One is heading up an extraordinarily expensive and failed campaign to kill badgers, in an attempt to combat tuberculosis in cattle.
The other is failing to deal with the catastrophic floods currently hitting Britain.
Yet, while Britain drowns, Paterson is planning to swan off to Africa at the taxpayer's expense to tell Africans to accept GMOs in the name of "science".
There is a remarkable irony about this "science" crusade because Paterson is a well known climate change denier. In fact, he stands accused of ignoring scientific advice linking flooding with climate change and of slashing climate change spending in his department. This has led to calls for him to be sacked.
One of his Cabinet colleagues told a national newspaper that the problem with Paterson is: "He just isn't very bright. Most of the people around the Cabinet table are bright, even if I disagree with them, but not Owen. He isn't climate sceptic, he's climate stupid."
This could certainly explain why his promotion of GMOs has been so poorly informed and imbecilic. It is widely believed that his blind faith in GM is politically and commercially motivated rather than based on scientific evidence, leading one of his own MPs to label him the Minister for GM hype!
He has certainly shown no willingness to acknowledge the serious downsides of GMOs, e.g. the millions of acres of US farmland choked by superweeds requiring ever more toxic herbicides, or the long-term animal studies that have shown serious health risks.
Scientists condemn "irresponsible" Glover
Anne Glover's GMO propagandising has been condemned by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility as equally "irresponsible", since she "chooses to listen to one side of the scientific community only – the circle of GMO producers and their allied scientists – and ignores the other".
And Glover has serious conflicts of interest that have led Member of the European Parliament and former French minister for the environment, Corinne Lepage, to call for her resignation. Glover is a shareholder in a biotech company and her background is that of a business-savvy genetic engineer. Her track record includes setting up the firm Remedios, which was named Scotland's "Best New Biotechnology Company" for Biotech Scotland by its industry peers.
We have our own message for people in Africa. We're very sorry that our tax money is being spent on inflicting these GM missionaries on you. Please don't think for a moment that they speak for the people of Europe - they don't.
And regarding GMOs, there's one piece of vital information they won't be telling you. The only reason for GMOs is patents. They are the means to control and own our food and farming, so that every time any of us eat, the technology owners profit.
And that might just have something to do with why this particular group of industry-friendly white missionaries love GMOs. And why, when they are having so much difficulty imposing them on the people of Europe, they are determined to impose them on you.