Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa , Environment, Haiti, Poverty

Gates Foundation holding hands with Monsanto

I have never had faith in what lay behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s charitable works in Africa.  The disclosure that the Foundation has directly invested up to $21 million in the  GM Biotechnology agricultural giant, Monsanto is confirmation to me that all was never well with this pair of billionaires.    While I am not so naive to imagine that such wealth is built without sullying the waters of ethics, there is a choice and they chose to make a bad one.  So what’s wrong with Monsanto – everything and more.

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First, Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well- being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an enormous conflict of interests.”

I cannot help but think this is not accidental but part of a long term plan.  At what point in this plan did the Gates Foundation decide to make the connection between their funding of agridevelopment and investment in Monsanto?  For someone with so much business astuteness I find it hard to believe that this was not thought of at the beginning.   After all biotechnology is not new in Africa.  In 2005 Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, wrote a piece titled “Conned with Corn” in which he describes the “onslaught of the biotech industry” in Africa as a modern day “scramble for Africa”.

Genetically engineered food has been presented as the ultimate weapon against hunger in Africa and the world. This is also seriously suggested in the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), meaning that this may be the direction efforts will be concentrated in the years to come. African leaders have largely been co-opted into thinking this way because they are warned that since the so-called Green Revolution train left Africa standing at the station they should not miss the gene train. It has been noted that the Green Revolution required extensive chemical and equipment inputs and although food production increased in some areas, small scale farmers were marginalised, the environment took a beating and on the aggregate hunger was boosted in the world.

Zambia is one African country that has refused to accept GM foods or crops.  The case as Bassey states demonstrated that “every country has the sovereign right to determine what type of food to eat irrespective of whether it is purchased in the market or donated as aid”.   (GM foods were banned in 2002 )  In 2005 there were reports claiming that Zambia faced a drought and needed 200,000 tones of maize immediately and the US tried putting pressure on Zambia to import GM foods.   The ban followed research by Zambian scientists and economists conducted in South Africa, Europe and the US as well as  consultations took place with local farmers, women’s groups, politicians, church leaders and NGOs — sounds very democratic!

The PushersMonsanto and USAID (the same people behind the push to market cassava in Nigeria [the country’s main staple food) as an export crop.  For example — Monsanto’s genetically engineered cotton called Bt Cotton has been planted in India and South Africa.  According to Monsanto this has been a great success but there have been many reports  of farmers recording low yields and going into debt.  Monsanto and US Aid are now pushing Bt Cotton on Tanzania which will join Tunisia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Kenya in conducting field trials.

The food and crops: Apart from Bt cotton, GM food is being sent to Africa, Asia and Latin America via food aid.  Example — “In 2003 Nigeria received 11,000 metric tons of  soy meal as food aid from the US under the title “Food for Progress”.  Taking into account that around 60% of soybeans in the US is GM it is quite likely that Nigeria has been receiving GM food through the back door so to speak.  Another example Bassey gives  is in Latin America  where corn varieties not authorised for human consumption have been found in food aid sent in 2002 and in 2005.

More recently and one that cannot have been missed by Bill and Melinda Gates happened in Haiti in May this year.  5 months after the earthquake that killed up to 250,000 people and hundreds of thousands more left homeless, Monsanto in one of it’s most despicable acts  sent 475 tons of seeds in an aid package to Haitian farmers.  They clearly thought that hungry people will accept any food even food that will kill them and their future.   But the Haitians refused.  The seeds are patented to Monsanto.  They cannot be reused meaning farmers become forever dependent on Monsanto.  A bit like Microsoft, at least in the early days, when it had a monopoly on operating systems and software for  all IBM clone machines.  So one could say this kind of consumer lock-in is familiar to the Gates.

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  1. Organic Poultry Farmer

    THis articles does makes one very important factual error. The US soybean crop is not 60% GM, it is about 95% GM so you be haveNO doubt that those aid export are LOADED with GMOs.

  2. Sokari

    @organic Poultry Farmer – many thanks for this correction, not just the export but so many products are filled with soybeans in some form. Eating is becoming dangerous to ones health unless you can afford organic which most of the world including here in the west cannot.

  3. Gash

    Sour grapes. Africa has produced no corporations comparable to Monsanto et al so the occupation of choice as shown by this post is to trash talk those who have succeeded. I am an African and I’d have no problems investing in Monsanto or Microsoft whatsoever.

  4. Sokari

    So you make your decisions in life based on who someone is rather than on their actions? Did you actually read this post, check out the links, do some investigations of Monsanto not just in Africa but in Europe and the Americas?

  5. Udik

    This sounds incredible to me. Millions of Americans, of all social classes, including the president and his family eat every day, and have been eating for the last 20 years, genetically modified food. How can you really think it can pose any threat to human health? Whatever link you can show me and whatever information about the dangers you can point me to, how can you think that the richest people of the most powerful country in the world are ignoring it to the extent of poisoning themselves every day?
    And how can you blame US for sending in aid the very same kind of food they eat every day? What would you say if you were trying to help someone who’s starving offering her YOUR OWN FOOD and seeing it rejected on the basis that it is poisonous?
    I finish saying that it is typical of backward cultures to see plots and threats everywhere, well beyond what it is reasonable, instead of seeing the opportunities coming from reciprocal trust and cooperation. The kind of culture you’re propagating with your ideas is a culture of isolation, suspicion and fear.

  6. Douin

    How blind so many are. It is not just the food that is at is the fact that the Seeds that Mansanto is pushing cannot be used again. Then the farmers have no choice but to keep coming back to Mansanto to purchase more even higher prices. In short order, pricing the small farmers off their land that they have farmed for generations. Can’t you people use your brains for something besides a hair rack ? How long do you think it would take for Mansanto to end up owning all the land of any country that is fool enough to fall for such a cunning Lie. Here to help you, my ass ! This is just another version of the lying World Bank.

  7. Udik

    So the genetically modified food isn’t poisonous anymore? Good to know, at least starving people can eat it. So what’s the point in rejecting food as an aid? It’s just committing suicide because of your own stupidity. Although I’m sure that really starving people would’t listen a second to your nonsense.
    As for the seeds, they’re not sterile, and can be replanted. Obviously you should pay for that, but nobody forces you to plant what you received in aid as food. Also, both genetically modified and normal seeds coming from the western countries are hybrid, that means that it is not even convenient to replant them, because they will give very poor yields anyway.
    In western countries all farmers buy their seeds each year, because the (first generation) of the hybrid varieties give much better yields, far superior to those of non hybrid seeds. And western countries are not poor or strangled by Monsanto or other agricultural corporations, but all the opposite, they have far more food than they can actually eat (and this is not, just in case you’re thinking of it, because they stole it to you, but because they GROW it). So, please, stop seeing plots and threats everywhere, take agriculture for what it really is, leave the paranoid people babbling about the dictatorship of corporations while they have their bellies full of the food produced thanks to the technology of those very same corporations. These kind of paranoias started in rich western countries from people who just have to go to a supermarket to buy whatever they want, and have been convinced by TV advertisements that you just have to throw your seeds in the ground, go fishing and come back four months later to get all the food you want. It’s not, and it’s never been like that.