Wrapping Up 2010 With Awesome Interviews and Organizing Work!

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out this Q & A session with AGRA Watch member Phil Bereano, in the Seattle Times!

Here are some great excerpts:

Q: One of the projects the Gates Foundation is working on with Monsanto, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), is being billed as a way to deal with worsening drought due to climate change, a serious problem for farmers.

A: It may use water more efficiently, but it’s not drought tolerant. Drought tolerance is a complicated interplay between several dozen different genes.

There are thousands of varieties of maize, including drought tolerant varieties. The problem is they can’t be patented and sold because they are in the public domain. Multinational corporations like Monsanto are attempting to gain control over food by patenting GMO seeds and presenting them as a savior to peoples’ needs.

Q: It has been about a year since the World Food Prize Symposium in which Bill Gates talked about an ideological divide between those who favor a technology or an environment based approach getting in the way of solutions. Is this divide growing?

A: First of all, we are not anti-technology. Agroecological methods are based on technology and have been shown by a number of studies, including the IAASTD, to be as good if not better at dealing with African hunger. The technologies we support are comprehensible to local farmers, under their control, and not protected by intellectual property rights. The difference is one of control. Food sovereignty is about ownership and power. The difference is not a difference between people who are pro-technology and Luddites.

No one wants to see starving people in Africa. People understand climate change is a major threat, but the justification of these kinds of technologies changes. They used to say GM food was required to feed the world; now they say it’s required to feed the world and deal with climate change.

For more information on how issues of agroecology and food sovereignty in Africa are related to climate change, check out AGRA Watch’s Press Release “From Seattle to Cancun: International Coalition Calls on Gates Foundation for Real Solutions to Hunger and Climate Change” from earlier this month!

Great quotes from:

 Dena Hoff, Coordinator of La Via Campesina North America: “These organizations represent a mere fraction of the diverse international movements working to transform a broken food and world economic system from the bottom-up.” 

And AGRA Watch’s Janae Choquette: “The Gates Foundation, like the leaders of the talks in Cancun, is out of sync with those who offer real solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, namely the peoples most affected by them.”

And while you’re on the CAGJ website catching up on AGRA Watch news and activities, consider clicking that little yellow “Donate Now” button in the left sidebar–makes a great holiday gift for social justice minded friends and family who have sworn off the usual materialism, and will help AGRA Watch continue doing great work in 2011!!

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