Africa: GMO’s dumping ground

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [1], among many charities, are promoting the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Africa, acting as spokespeople for the manufacturers of GMO seeds such as DuPont, Arcadia Biosciences and Monsanto. For too long biotechnologists, bio-tech and chemical corporations, charities and governments around the world have promoted the lie that genetically modified crops are the solution to world hunger. This is a lie because there is already enough food to feed 14 billion people on the planet and as such the argument that GM crops are needed is false. 30-40% of food produced in the western world is wasted; this keeps demand high and prices high meaning many people in the world can’t afford to eat [2].

GM soy and maize farming in South Africa has led to impoverished farmers as crops failed. Farmers who choose the GM path are locked into a contract where they cannot do anything but accept whatever the GMO seed producer dictates [3]. Farmers have been left bankrupted around the world (in India, Argentina, Africa) because they are tied to the manufacturer. It is effectively a form of indentured servitude. On the contrary, those farmers in Africa who are educated to grow crops in an agro-ecological way (organic or organic without the certification) on small, local farms have been very successful, with very high yield increases of over 100 per cent [4].

Despite the history of failure of genetically engineered crops and the recognised health risks, there is still a great push and promotion of GMO into Africa. Biotechnology companies are partnering with and funding charities to promote GMO for them as a means to tackle climate change [5] and feed the hungry. Charities such as the Gates Foundation have enormous funds and influence. The Gates Foundation owns 500,000 shares (at time of writing approximately US $50 million) in Monsanto [6]. As such, the Gates Foundation has a vested interest in promotion of Monsanto’s products as a return on investment. Even if both Bill and Melinda Gates believe GMO to be safe, the independent evidence shows this not to be the case. It is recognised that genetically modified foods are toxic, unnatural and, along with their accompanying pesticides required to kill off all life except the genetically manufactured crop, are deadly [7]. With large donations of approximately US $31 billion from Warren Buffett, one of its trustees [8], the Gates Foundation works with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote GMO [9]. Manufacturers like Monsanto “donate” certain amounts of GM seeds in order to promote a humanitarian mission, which is all falsehood. Their only motive is the sale of their product [10].

Other well-known foundations such as The Clinton Foundation have charity works in Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda to promote farming and farming methods for greater yields [11]. Monsanto and Dow Chemical, large producers of GMO seeds and deadly pesticides are contributors to the Clinton Foundation [12], and Hillary Clinton has long had close ties to Monsanto and the biotech industry [13]. Tanzania also has uranium mines in its heart centre such as in Bahi North. This mine is owned by Uranium One which was initially launched by Frank Giustra, who sits on the Board of Directors of the Clinton Foundation [14]. Giustra invested millions into the Clinton Foundation after his company obtained help from the Clintons in securing a uranium mining deal in Kazakhstan [15].

There is a vast interest in the resources of Africa as well as viewing Africa as a great marketplace. Biotechnology producers such as Monsanto who have a shameful history are not trusted anywhere and neither is their product. Africa does not want, nor need, genetically modified crops or grains. This is why the likes of Monsanto donate to and use foundations such as the Gates Foundation to convince politicians and farmers in African nations that their GMO products are vital to human survival. Not all African nations accept GMO or the advances of these foundations. Kenya banned GMO in 2012 over documented, legitimate health concerns. The Gates Foundation has been at the forefront of pressuring Kenya to lift this ban, alongside Monsanto, USAID and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) [16]. The DFID funded Kenya’s biotechnology promotion agency, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation [17].

Through ‘charitable’ foundations, as well as others such as the Howard G. Buffett Foundation – son of Warren Buffett [18], African governments are being pressured to accept and cultivate GM crops. Indeed, this has been coined ‘The African Seed Scramble’ as Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others scramble to take control of the African seed market, estimated to be worth at least US $750 million, with maize alone estimated to be $500 million [19]. Maize is a major genetically engineered crop in the United States of America with over 90 per cent of all maize grown being a GMO. It is no wonder American and European corporations are charging at the doors of Africa.

 

What is the Gates Foundation doing specifically to promote GMO into Africa?

Under the guise of humanitarian work, to help feed and educate the African farmers and families, as well as grow an agro-biotechnology sector in Africa, millions of dollars have been flooded into biotechnology organisations, trials and projects to promote cultivation of GMO. The Gates Foundation openly promotes GMO as the solution to hunger in Africa. In November 2015, it donated $6 million to the International Food Policy Research Institute [20] “to support African governments’ efforts to design and implement policies and regulations that facilitate and sustain smallholder farmer adoption of biotech crops to improve their food security, nutrition, and economic status” [21].

The Gates Foundation has funded many studies into the development of genetically modified crops such as cassava various projects to nearly $27 million [22]; sorghum $21 million [23]; sweet potato, two grants totalling $41 million [24].

GMO research in Africa is strongly promoted. The “countries targeted by GM research on orphan crops (and rice) include: Burkina Faso (rice and sorghum); Egypt (rice and sorghum), Ghana (cassava, sweet potato, rice); Kenya (cassava, pigeon pea (transformation and green house stage)), sweet potato (transformation), sorghum, millet—although information pertaining to GM research for this crop in the country is scarce; Nigeria (cassava, rice, sorghum); South Africa (cassava—this research has been discontinued—and sorghum, for which the state of research uncertain); and Uganda (cassava, sweet potato—at the green house stage—and rice)” [25].

More and more, GMO is being forced upon the African nations and peoples under the guise of providing the only means of feeding the African people with the nutrition they need, that there is no other approach that could work, save GMO. Charitable foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, massively funded by Warren Buffett, the Clinton Foundation and others, are working through governmental aid agencies in the US, UK and Africa to fund and promote biotechnology institutes, research, education and sales of GM seeds, pesticides and the industrial farming way, on behalf of the producers of GM seeds such as Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others.

The solution to Africa’s hunger lies not in technology but in agroecology – biological and organic farming, small scale localised farming – and improved infrastructure in order to safely transport to markets. The evidence from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) [4], a study conducted by 400 scientists, shows categorically that higher yields, nutrition and minimal environmental impact are achieved by agro-ecological farming methods, and not by GMO, which has never been shown to improve yields and nutrition. On the contrary, GMO yields fall after the first two years of cultivation as the soils are depleted of nutrition by the spraying and painting on of pesticides and poisoned by the toxins inserted into the DNA of plants to resist insecticides such as bacillus thuringiensis (listed as an insecticide by the US Environmental Protection Agency), killing microbes in the soil, harming earth worms and reducing the function of mycorrhizae fungi to bring needed nutrients and water to crops [e.g. 26, 27]. GMO farming has been proven to not work in climates like Africa and everywhere GMO farming has only brought misery to farmers, consumers and the environment. A solution to feeding Africa is already in use and is extremely successful and harmless to man and nature, and is truly worthy of promotion to African nations: agro-ecological farming [4], small scale organic farming.

 

 

References
[1] The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org

[2] Enough food for 14 billion: C. Robinson, M. Antoniou, J. Fagan (2015), GMO Myths and Truths – condensed and updated third edition, Earth Open Source Ltd, p114.

[3] Ibid, p115-120.

[4] International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), Agriculture at a Crossroads: Synthesis Report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: A Synthesis of the Global and Sub-Global IAASTD Reports. Washington DC, USA: Island Press 2009: http://www.unep.org/dewa/agassessment/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Synthesis%20Report%20(English).pdf

[5] ‘Tackling’ climate change:Africa Science Technology and Innovation News (July 1st 2016): http://www.africasti.com/commentary/using-biotechnology-to-tackle-climate-change-agric-development

[6] Gates Foundation buys 500,000 Monsanto shares:http://naturalsociety.com/bill-gates-foundation-buys-500000-shares-of-monsanto/

[7] GMO Fact Sheet:The World Foundation for Natural Science (2015), The hidden use of Genetically Modified Organisms and their impact on Human Beings, Animals and Nature: http://www.naturalscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-06-23-WFNS-Factsheet-GMO-english-WEB.pdf

[8] Warren Buffett: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Leadership/Executive-Leadership-Team/Warren-Buffett

[9] Gates Foundation partners USAID to promote GMO in Africa:African Centre for Biodiversity (2016), “For Your Own Good!”, The Chicanery behind GM non-commercial ‘orphan crops’ and rice for Africa: http://acbio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GM-Orphan-Crops-Report.pdf
[10] The Monsanto Fund activities in Africa: http://www.monsantofund.org/global-impact/africa/

[11] The Clinton Foundation farming activities Africa: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/blog/2016/06/28/agriculture-and-promise-future

[12] Monsanto and Dow Chemical contribution to The Clinton Foundation: http://www.naturalnews.com/Clinton-Foundation-Donors-State.html

[13] Hillary Clinton close ties to Monsanto and GMO industry: The Washington Times, Hillary’s agribusiness ties give rise to nickname in Iowa: ‘Bride of Frankenfood May 17 2015: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/17/hillary-clinton-gmo-support-monsanto-ties-spark-ba/

[14] Frank Giustra: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/board-directors

[15] Frank Giustra donation to Clinton Foundation after mining deal: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/us/politics/31donor.html

[16] Gates Foundation, Monsanto et al pressures Kenya to lift ban on GMO: http://buzzkenya.com/us-gates-foundation-monsanto-pressure-kenya-lift-gmo-ban/

[17] UK Department for International Development funds promotion of biotechnology into Africa:
http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/upload_documents/Kenya_GMO_220805.DOC

[18] Howard G. Buffett Foundation: http://www.thehowardgbuffettfoundation.org

[19] The African Seed Scramble: http://acbio.org.za/the-expansion-of-the-commercial-seed-sector-in-sub-saharan-africa-major-players-key-issues-and-trends/

[20] The International Food Policy Research Institute. “The aim of IFPRI research in [agriculture] is to improve overall development strategies to ensure broad-based growth in rural economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa”:
http://www.ifpri.org/strategic-research-area/transforming-agriculture

[21] Gates Foundation $6 million grant to support smaller farmer GMO uptake: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2015/11/OPP1131119

[22] Gates Foundation funding of GM cassava: http://acbio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GM-Orphan-Crops-Report.pdf p13-14

[23] Gates Foundation funding for GM sorghum:
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2005/07/OPP37877

[24] Gates Foundation funding for GM sweet potato: http://acbio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GM-Orphan-Crops-Report.pdf p16

[25] GMO crop trials in Africa: http://acbio.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GM-Orphan-Crops-Report.pdf  p17-18 (includes references in source)

[26] Glyphosate harms earthworm function: Mailin Gaupp-Berghausen et al. (2015), Glyphosate-based herbicides reduce the activity and reproduction of earthworms and lead to increased soil nutrient concentrations, Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 12886 http://www.nature.com/articles/srep12886

[27] BT toxin stops mychorrizhae fungi working:T. Cheeke et al. (2012) Evidence of reduced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal colonization in multiple lines of Bt maize, American Journal of Botany, vol. 99 no. 4 700-707 http://www.amjbot.org/content/99/4/700.full