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Feature Article of Monday, 16 March 2009

Columnist: Amponsah, John

Monsanto-Cargill promoting GM foods in Ghana?

by John Amponsah (plaice@excite.com)

Today I read an article on Ghanaweb talking about how Ghana is falling behind because we refuse to consider new kinds of technology. It relates to the article about Genetically Modified Foods (see below) that was published on Ghanaweb on February 27th 2009.

Implementation of GM foods in Ghana – Monsanto-Cargill Operation Exposed

The primary NGO responsible for promoting GM foods in Africa is called International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech applications (ISAAA). ISAAA is a subsidiary of another company called Cargill. In 1998 Cargill, a major player in the GM seed and hormone-fed animal industry was bought by Monsanto. They called it a merger, with Monsanto having the larger stake. So Monsanto effectively 'own' Cargill. If you've never heard of Monsanto you should definitely read up on them. It is the ISAAA that organized the briefing in Ghana to promote GM foods, carried out by Prof Walter Alhassan (see original GM article below) who works for a consultancy group. Ghana is a major African country so you can be sure that the move to introduce GM foods testing and implementation in Ghana as it is being encouraged by ISAAA was instituted at the highest levels of decision-making and Monsanto interests are directly responsible for the move. Hence it is rather likely that Monsanto is now knowingly operating in Ghana.

"Cargill specializes in the production of inexpensive engineered foodstuffs—from genetically modified corn to hormone-fed beef — because we care"

This statement is at best misleading. It could even be called a (lie). Monsanto-Cargill have been known to be very much profit driven. There has been tons of evidence pointing to the fact that GM foods contaminate the ecosystem by (infecting) non GM varieties. Monsanto-Cargill continuously disregard the mountains of evidence pointing to the adverse health effects of using hormone-fed meat or the failed GM programs they sometimes actively go out of their way to suppress, pursue and condemn the research findings of scientists or the articles of investigative journalists. Monsanto trains African scientists such as Kenyan Dr Florence Wanbugu to go about promoting the GM potato in Africa and around the world despite the program having turned out to be a big failure. Sometimes conscientious citizens should consider all sources of information on an issue like this one. If you think the Cargill motto is a little suspect, here is Monsanto's motto: “ Monsanto: no food shall be grown that we do not own!” Well, you can say that they are working hard towards this end since they patent their genetically modified seeds and prosecute farmers whose seeds get infected by their GM seeds and who do not want to pay Monsanto for....using Monsanto's patented seeds.

Monsanto-Cargill is big on the use of various hormone techniques to speed up the growth of an animal. The animal (product) is being treated like a machine, in effect to manipulate it for as much profit/gain as possible. Plant species are also genetically engineered to make them grow must faster than they usually do, the end result being greater profit. Obviously these genetic and hormone manipulations enter the ecosystem as well as human food. Growth hormones in particular have been shown to have adverse effects on the natural growth cycle of young children, ushering them into puberty at a much earlier age, sometimes young girls experience their menstrual cycle at five years of age in areas that have been heavily influenced by hormone-fed meat. This is not fiction, it actually happened in parts of Puerto Rico in 1982. It has also been registered in western countries like the UK and the US that young children are reaching puberty earlier than in previous decades. Monsanto in particular is well known for creating the genetically modified hormone Bovine Somatotropin (aka Bovine Growth Hormone).

Also a hormone called diethylsilbestrol was introduced between 1947 and 1959 primarily in America to artifically fatten cattle, chickens and turkeys. When it was found in the 1960's that this hormone being used in this way causes cancer it was removed from western countries. But here is the problem. Countries like China (where Monsanto operates) still use this harmful hormone despite decades of proof showing otherwise. This is why it is important to be aware of this information because African countries may have to deal with similar issues in the future if we embrace GM technology and the companies that promote this technology.

Conclusion Please read the articles (and if you have time, also watch the videos) posted in the sections below, especially the one about Monsanto's current battle in Germany. One person noted on a website that the Germans continue to prove to be among the smartest people in the world for choosing to fight against the incursion of genetically modified foods into their country. We all know that Germany is a technologically advanced nation. The message here is that not all scientific advancement is necessarily beneficial to a developing country like Ghana that has high hopes for climbing up the development ladder. Why not instead focus on organic farming which is proving to become a major market in the developed world?

John Amponsah

Original GM article (February 27th 2009) http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=158358

Reply to Original Article (March 12th 2009) http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=158877

DOCUMENTARIES The Corporation – very informative. Excellent.

1)http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3969792790081230711

The Future of Food – must see.

2)http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8098965482866581381

Monsanto-specific articles (quite informative)

1)Monsanto's uphill battle in Germany

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,611582,00.html

2) Monsanto's dream bill, HR 875 http://www.opednews.com/articles/Monsanto-s-dream-bill-HR-by-Linn-Cohen-Cole-090309-337.html

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