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Opinions of Monday, 13 September 2010

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

Why is Kofi Annan Fronting For Monsanto?

The GMO Assault On Africa

Feature Article


Why do you bring your mistakes here?

Kofi Annan has joined with President Obama, Monsanto, AGRA, and the
Gates foundation to promote and execute food aid that replaces bags of
wheat, rice and corn (agricultural dumping) with bags of pesticides,
herbicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds. The
end result will be to starve people in Africa and feed corporations in
the US and Europe.

"Under the guise of “sustainability” the [Gates] Foundation has been
spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a
GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort
is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive
Green Revolution project. Up to now AGRA spokespeople have been
slippery, and frankly, contradictory about their stance on GMOs."
(See: Monsanto in Gates' Clothing? The Emperor's New GMOs, By Eric
Holt-Gimenez, The Huffington Post, Aug 26, 2010).

"If you had any doubts about where the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation is really placing its bets, AGRA Watch’s recent
announcement of the Foundation’s investment of $23.1 million in
500,000 shares of Monsanto stock should put them to rest. Genetic
engineering: full speed ahead." (Eric Holt-Gimenez)

If you have questions about Monsanto’s agenda, here it is in brief:
"At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative
from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto
design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives
what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives
described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically
modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from
that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They
presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a
place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were
virtually extinct." (See Monsanto: The world's poster child for
corporate manipulation and deceit
Friday, July 30, 2010 by: Jeffrey M. Smith)

Kofi Annan is Chairman of the Board of Directors for AGRA. He is
convening a conference in Ghana in the first week of September. As
detailed in this blog, and by others, both AGRA andUSAID top positions
are filled with people that come from Monsanto and Dupont.

Kofi Annan Calls For United Effort To Accelerate African Green Revolution:

"African heads of state, industry representatives, the international
donor community and farmers will meet in Ghana at the African Green
Revolution Forum (AGRF) in the first week of September. Delegates will
create an action plan on the acceleration of a Green Revolution in

Samuel Amoako has reported on this as well: Kofi Annan Hosts Forum On
Africa’s Food Security in the Ghanaian Times on August 11.

It is worrisome that Kofi Annan is connected with AGRA. Maybe he
believes that US mechanized and chemical agriculture work well. Most
people in the US do, aside from family farmers who see the effects
first hand. I have a good friend who works for the US Dept. of
Agriculture and thinks this kind of big agriculture really is the best
and that Monsanto is a boon to mankind. We have had several heated
discussions. In fact Monsanto is destroying land, causing chemically
induced human diseases, creating super weeds, super insect pests, and
economic havoc in many parts of the US farming areas, particularly in
the midwest and the south. There have been countless protests all over
India and Brazil. I’ve read many heartbreaking stories, including this
comment from Pearl on this blog:

The farmers of southern Kentucky have been enslaved by Monsanto. The
previous generation fell for an ad campaign called “Hi-bred” or
“High-Bred”, and the current generation is stuck with fulfilling the
contracts their fathers signed. The chemicals that Monsanto has
contractually required be applied to those fields have so damaged the
soil that the only way to get anything to grow in the fields now is to
keep applying more of those blasted chemicals. So even if a person who
inherited a contract WANTS to discontinue the agreement with Monsanto
when the contract expires, they are unable to do so unless they want
to leave the land fallow for many, many, many years. Most farmers
cannot afford to do this, as this would mean little to no income for
their families for somewhere between 5 to 20 years, depending on how
long it would take for the soil to renew itself.

I’ve always had enormous respect for Kofi Annan, I do not understand
his participation in this and it bothers me a great deal. Even though
I admire and respect him there are no free passes with a subject like

Genetically modified crops produce less, not more, than conventional crops.

Alexis Baden-Mayer points out in Dupont, Monsanto, and Obama Versus
the World’s Family Farmers that AGRA is basing its programs on myth:

Most of the world’s food is not produced on industrial mega-farms. 1.5
billion family farmers produce 75 percent of the world’s food.

The hunger problem is not caused by low yields. The world has 6
billion people and produces enough food for 9 billion people.

And as I’ve discussed before, the smaller the farm the greater the yield.

There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the
amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the
greater the yield.

In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming
in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are
twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen’s
observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia,
Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It
appears to hold almost everywhere. (Monbiot)

The key to true food security is food sovereignty, and the key to food
sovereignty lies in who controls the land. The problems of both
starvation and obesity stem from injustice in the way farmland and
food are distributed. AGRA policies will poison the land and water,
destroy local seeds and seed gene pools that provide the true hope for
food sustainability. Local agriculture in most parts of the world has
developed seeds that are tough and resistant to local pests, weeds,
and local environmental dangers such as droughts or floods. AGRA
wishes to replace these seeds with ones that need expensive,
continuous, and ever expanding chemical coddling. These chemicals will
poison the land, the water, and the people.

Additionally the Gates Foundation, Monsanto, and other corporate
interests are investing in adoomsday seed bank, in which they will own
the world’s agricultural gene pool. They are storing seeds from all
over the world. In the event of genetic disaster, they will own the
surviving gene pool.

Jonathan Weiner, in The Beak of the Finch describes how chemicals
drive the destruction of land and the creation of super weeds and
super insect pests:

Some of the greatest opposition to evolution comes from the farmers of
the Cotton Belt, and that is where Taylor is seeing one of the most
dramatic cases of evolution in action on this planet.

… in the year 1940, cotton farmers began spraying their fields with
the chemical compound dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as
DDT. These first insecticidal sprays killed so many insects, and
killed so many of the birds that ate the insects, that in biological
terms the cotton fields were left standing virtually vacant, like an
archipelago of newborn islands – and out of the woods and hedgerows
fluttered [the cotton destroying moth] Heliothis virescens.

In the next few optimistic years, pesticide manufacturers assaulted
Heliothis with bigger and bigger doses of DDT. They also brought out
more poisons from the same chemical family: aldrin, chlordane. The aim
was nothing less than the control of nature, and pesticide
manufacturers believed that control was within their grasp. The annual
introduction of new pesticides rose from the very first product, DDT,
in 1940, to great waves of chemical invention in the 1960s and 1970s.
In those decades, dozens of new herbicides and insecticides were
brought to market each year. Heliothis became on of the most heavily
sprayed species in what amounted to a biological world war. Through it
all, the moths clung to the cotton.

… The moths have become almost absolutely resistant to all pesticides,
from your cyclodienes to your organophosphates to your carbamates, and
most of your pyrethroids. …

“Its an extraordinarily potent example of evolution going on under our
eyes,” Taylor says. “Visible evolution.”

A pesticide applies selection pressure as surely as a drought or a
flood. The poison selects against traits that make a species
vulnerable to it, because the individuals that are most vulnerable are
the ones that die first. The poison selects for any trait that makes
the species less vulnerable, because the least vulnerable are the ones
that survive longest and leave the most offspring. In this way the
invention of pesticides in the twentieth century has driven waves of
evolution in insects all over the planet. Heliothis is only one case
in hundreds. (from pp 251-255)

In short, pesticides and herbicides destroy most of the insects,
plants, and often other animals in those fields where they are used.
But nature fights back. Those insects and weeds that can resist the
chemicals initially, breed and grow stronger. They have no competition
except from the chemicals, and they quickly evolve immunity, even as
the chemicals become stronger and more toxic. Stronger and more toxic
chemicals are needed to fight the new insects and weeds, and the
destructive cycle continues. The chemicals wind up in the food, and
run off into the land and the water, creating an ever increasingly
toxic environment for humans and many other plants and animals.

For the growth of super weeds world wide, see the following charts:

The vertical axis shows the number of species of weeds that have
become chemical resistant, the horizontal axis shows the years. You
can see the exponential increase starting about 1970 when Monsanto
introduced Roundup, and continuing into 2010. (click to enlarge)

You can see the distribution, North America, Western Europe, and
Australia have already been severely impacted. Africa is a huge new
market that has not yet been ruined. You can see why it is so
desirable, it is a huge wide open opportunity to Monsanto and other
greedy chemical corporations. Most countries in Africa have not yet
been touched or biologically recolonized by GMOs and agricultural
chemicals. South Africa, which has allowed GMOs, is the most severely
impacted to date. (click to enlarge)

Genetically modified seeds, GMOs, are designed to be used as part of a
program involving chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Their effect on farmers is usually to lock them into a cycle of debt,
as described by Pearl above, and as experienced and protested in many
countries including India and Brazil, as mentioned above. Terminator
seeds, also known as suicide seeds or homicide seeds, will not
regenerate, so instead of saving seeds, farmers have to buy new seeds
each year, as well as investing in more, and more toxic chemicals each
year that are necessary to make the GMO seeds grow. This cycle has
created death and destruction in many places, including hundreds of
farmer suicides in India.

I’ve heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is
certainly the case for the insects and weeds targeted by chemical
pesticides and herbicides. Those that don’t die become very much
stronger. We have already have super bugs and super weeds, thanks to
the efforts of companies such as Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta.
Evolution can move very fast, not just fast enough to observe, but
fast enough to leave us humans struggling in its wake. Monsanto and
the other agricultural chemical companies market each new product as
though it is the end of some pest, that evolution stops at this point,
and we can just relax. In fact each new chemical is the creator and
the beginning of many more powerful threats. And the more powerful the
chemical tools we use against these threats, the more those chemicals
poison us and strengthen the insects and weeds we are fighting.

Although they have stopped talking much overtly about this, AGRA and
the Gates Foundation speak about “land mobility” which means moving
farmers off their farms so the land can be used for large scale
mechanized agriculture. But there is no mention of where these people
will go and live, and how they will be reemployed. What this means is
thousands of displaced people moving to slums around the cities, which
will grow and will be filled with unemployed people. This is
politically and socially destabilizing. It breeds crime and political
violence. This kind of policy also hits women particularly hard,
because in western models such as corporate agriculture, their
traditional rights to land are ignored. Women are the majority of
agricultural workers, and will become even more impoverished and
disenfranchised, not that it will bother AGRA or Gates or Monsanto, as
they say:

Over time, this will require some degree of land mobility and a lower
percentage of total employment involved in direct agricultural

Family farmers, who produce 75% of the worlds food, will gradually be
displaced, driven off their land, and the land will be poisoned and
ruined. There will be less food, less healthy food. More people will
starve, while more corporations will get fat.

As Joan Baxter writes:

Back in the early 1990s when I was reporting from northern Ghana, an
elderly woman farmer decided I would benefit from a bit of
enlightenment. In a rather long lecture, she detailed for me the
devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one that
outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s –
had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and their lives. She said that
the imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors, the
instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut
down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people
– even the invaluable sheanut trees – had ruined the diverse and
productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When
she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin,
‘Why do you bring your mistakes here?’

For more African farmers perspectives on this subject, see:

Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against A New
Green Revolution In Africa PDF

(NB: There are very important links available in the original of this
article that may not appear on this page. The curious reader who wants
to know more may therefore consult the original at, or go directly to:

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