Posted: February 7, 2014 Filed under: AGRA Watch
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), a non-profit organization based in South Africa that provides information, research, and policy analysis regarding social justice, genetic engineering and ecological sustainability, recently published a critique of AGRA’s “African Agricultural Status Report 2013,” entitled, “Giving With One Hand and Taking With Two.” In their critique, they summarize and analyze AGRA’s report in an attempt to answer important questions regarding AGRA’s plan to increase circulation of private capital in order to increase agricultural production on the continent.
ACB investigates the proposed use of public funds, the distribution of benefits resulting from increased circulation of private capital, and AGRA’s basic assumption that increased agricultural production benefits all. They note that AGRA proposes the channeling of public resources toward projects and policies that will lead to profitability, indicating a benefit for commercial farmers who use high-input farming methods at the expense of farmers who are not in the position to produce as businesses. In addressing the distribution of benefits, ACB notes that with the injection of private capital, which is the basis of AGRA’s plan, the farmer will always have to give up a portion of their revenue or product to the owner of said capital. ACB emphasizes the importance of finding ways to increase productivity where the value created can stay with the producers and not go to investors. Further indicating an unfavorable distribution of benefits, ACB notes that some of AGRA’s interventions, most notably their push for seed harmonization, will have direct negative impacts on small-scale farmers because of new regulatory and legal obstacles that would inhibit these farmers’ current practices.
According to ACB, AGRA’s assumption that everyone benefits from increased production is erroneous. AGRA’s strategy is not only an inappropriate intervention for African agriculture but their focus on industrial agriculture ignores the importance of diversity in ecological agriculture, and the facts that farmers’ practices are time tested and have adapted to fit into local socio-ecological contexts for thousands of years. ACB suggests working with farmers to strengthen current practices instead of starting from scratch with AGRA’s industrial agricultural plan.
AGRA Watch’s newest intern, Tyler White, provided this analysis. To find out more about ACB’s report, please visit http://www.acbio.org.za
Posted: January 26, 2014 Filed under: AGRA Watch
While voters in California and Washington rejected ballot proposals requiring foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such, two dozen more states are expected to introduce labeling bills. Opponents of GM labeling laws have consequently responded by coming up with a plan to thwart consumers’ right to know what is in their food.
Earlier this month AGRA Watch reported on the Grocery Manufactures Association’s plan to label GMOs as “natural”
and according to Food Democracy Now!
, their plan is also set to “speed up approval for new GMO crops, limit the FDA and USDA’s ability to extend pre-market safety reviews and declare GMOs as ‘safe.’”
However, policy makers and concerned citizens are taking the labeling fight to the nation’s highest office. According to an article by Sustainable Pulse
, more than 200 business and organizations have written to President Obama urging him to keep his 2007 campaign promise
to label GMOs.
Posted: January 15, 2014 Filed under: AGRA Watch
A recent article published by Sustainable Pulse
discusses possible ramifications for US apple exports if and when GM Arctic Golden and Granny apples become approved for cultivation in 2014. Engineered to prevent browning, the new GM apples will be the first genetically modified apple on the North American market. However, issues have surfaced regarding the apples inclusion of an antibiotic marker gene, Kanamycin. Due to the risk of antibiotic resistance and concerns of cross-pollination and gene-transfers, EU regulators may refuse to allow imports of not only GM apples but all North American apples. According to Sustainable Pulse, “The British Columbia Fruit Growers Association has even openly rejected the GMO Arctic Apple because of the lack of independent testing or public consultation, the uncertainty over cross-pollination with non-GMO apple trees…”
Posted: January 6, 2014 Filed under: AGRA Watch
Washington State’s November election results showed a narrow (49%-51%) defeat for the state’s GM labeling initiative, I-522. Opponents poured in their financial contributes eventually outspending the I-522 proponents three to one
Now, the top financial supporter against Washington’s GM labeling bill, the Grocery Manufactures Association (GMA), is making headlines again.
In an article published by Food Safety News
(an organization not affiliated with the Center for Food Safety), the Grocery Manufacturers Association intends to petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow foods containing GMOs to be labeled as “natural.”
According to the FDA’s website, “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
These marketing and mislabeling ploys by Big Ag corporations and the GMA create greater confusion for U.S. consumers.
Posted: December 24, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
Last month, the Union for Concerned Scientists published a blog regarding the arguments made by GE proponents for the necessity of genetically engineered crops. Particularly in the context of food production, GE advocates frequently assert that genetic modification will be a viable option to increase the world’s food supply while non-GE solutions will prove to be inadequate. However, according to senior scientist in the Food and Environmental Program at the Union of Concerned Scientist, Doug Gurian-Sherman, there is often a lack of substantive evidence supporting these claims. “Analysis of the coming constraints on food production (like climate change) and the potential of different approaches to improve food production and distribution are needed before any such declarations can be made with confidence,” says Gurian-Sherman. According to Sherman, the effectiveness of genetic engineering is best evaluated if rigorous regulations and scientific testing of GE technologies are conducted by objective third parties.
Posted: December 16, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
In his op-ed piece for the New York Times, Peter Buffett discusses how (even the most well-intended) philanthropists at times “are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others have created with their left.” According to Buffett, studies show that inequality continues to rise despite the steady growth of the non-profit sector. In other words, although the rich feel good and sleep better at night after “giving to the poor,” the disadvantaged are ” further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature…”
Current oppressive systems can only be dismantled if those directly impacted by inequality, poverty and injustice have the opportunity to actively participate and decide for themselves the best way to utilize philanthropic donations. As Buffett states, “It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.”
To read Buffett’s piece, “The Charitable-Industrial Complex” please visit www.nytimes.com
Posted: December 2, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
As members of La Via Campesina
, African men and women farmers came together this month in Zimbabwe to strategize ways to defend themselves against the corporate control of seeds by transnational companies. The gathering provided a platform for small-scale farmers to hold discussions and formulate actions to help defend their seeds against current corporate attacks. According to La Via Campesina’s press release
, “We reject the push for technologies within the frame of the green revolution…It is yet another attempt of TNCs to conquer new markets. As Africans, we refuse to be the new playfield of agribusiness and become seed slaves for the corporations…”
AGRA Watch stands in solidarity with La Via Campesina’s commitment to reclaim farmers’ autonomy! It is imperative that seed sovereignty and farmer’s valuable knowledge of saving, sowing, selling and exchanging seeds is respected and upheld.
Posted: November 21, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) recently issued a critique of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s (AGRA) report, “Africa Agriculture Status Report 2013.”
The ACB’s report, “Giving With One Hand and Taking With Two: A Critique of AGRA’s African Agriculture Status Report 2013
,” sheds light on AGRA’s rejection of agroecological solutions to food production. Instead, ACB asserts that “solutions” proposed by AGRA draw resources away from farmers and communities to benefit agribusiness. As stated in the report, “The analysis of AGRA’s ‘Africa Agriculture Status Report 2013′
reveals that AGRA’s vision is premised on Public Private Partnerships in which African governments will shoulder the cost and burden of developing regulatory procedures and infrastructure to enable private agribusiness to profit from new African markets.”
In conjunction with the African Centre for Biosafety, AGRA Watch stresses the necessity of shifting toward agroecological production methods as a way of improving the sustainability of our current food system.
Posted: November 7, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
A report by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has confirmed a scheme by the Gates Foundation, in partnership with Monsanto, to force its ineffective genetically modified maize crop, MON810, on Africa. According to ACB, MON810, which failed and was withdrawn from South African markets due to the development of insect resistance, is now being pushed on the rest of the continent. Monsanto is offering their GM crop “royalty free” to Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA), a project funded by the Gates Foundation. As stated by Haidee Swanby, a researcher of ACB, “WEMA is a convenient vehicle for Monsanto to gain regulatory approval for its controversial technology in African countries. However, ‘royalty-free’ seed simply means that resource strapped commercial farmers will get the seed at the same price as hybrid seed, which means that these seeds will be prohibitively expensive. The patents on the gene sequences still reside with Monsanto, and farmers will have to pay premium prices for the GM/GE seeds.”
AW strongly condemns these “philanthropic” ventures which trap farmers in cyclical debt and only benefit the pockets of Big Ag shareholders.
To find out more and read the full report, please visit www.acbio.org
Posted: November 4, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
Election day is tomorrow and AGRA Watch would like to remind you all to vote YES on I-522 to get genetically modified foods labeled in Washington State!
Although the Grocery Manufactures Association and Big Ag corporations have spent more than $20 million to defeat Washington State’s labeling initiative, polls
showed last week that YES on 522 was slightly in the lead.
Why vote to label GM food in Washington State? In an interview for the Seattle Times
, AGRA Watch’s Phil Bereano explains “It’s about the consumer’s right to know what’s in their food!”
We are down to the wire now! Make sure your ballots are postmarked by tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th.