Monsanto The Gates Foundation and the Future of Food
Thanks to the US’s 2009 Global Food Security Act, food aid policy for the first time mandates the use of genetic modification technologies. Nidhi Tandon looks at how this legislation helps biotechnology companies monopolise the seed industry at the expense of farmers, and explores some of the dubious links between these corporations, the Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
In March 2009, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its Global Food Security Act (SB 384). The legislation, known as the Lugar-Casey Act, aims to focus on longer-term agricultural development, and restructure aid agencies to better respond to crises. Funding for agricultural development – some US$7.7 billion worth – would be directed in large part to genetically modified crop research.[1http://www.agra-alliance.org/">Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). On its website, the Alliance describes itself as a 'dynamic partnership working across the continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger … focusing on key aspects of African agriculture: from seeds, soil health and water to markets, agricultural education and policy'.
The Gates/Monsanto bond is very strong. An August 2010 report in The Wall Street Journal reported that Monsanto was among the Foundation's portfolio investments.[6http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2009/reaping-benefits">Reaping the Benefits states: ‘The use of patents has mixed consequences. In some instances – this strategy has stimulated the commercial development of products and their application. However, intellectual property restrictions have major impacts on the access to new technologies, especially for the poor. The potential for patent protection has engendered mistrust of the technology because it may restrict the options of farmers and force those with no other options into restrictive and expensive commercial relationships’.[10file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.jpg" alt="http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/557/Tandon.jpg" width="499" height="249" />
Figure 2: AGRA links with Monsanto and Gates Foundation[11http://lavieverte.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/bees-thrive-in-paris-more-biodiversity-fewer-pesticides">bees have it better and produce more honey in the middle of Paris than in the countryside as they have access to a greater variety of flowers and are not exposed to pesticides. African countries have lost a lot of their indigenous diversity as a result of the western agricultural methods and the growing of foreign species. This loss of diversity involved also the loss of reliable nutritious and abundant food.
‘Despite their seeming fragility, small African peasant producers have a lot of knowledge about the continent’s very rich agricultural biodiversity. When put together with appropriate agro-ecological techniques, approaches that draw on this knowledge produce highly satisfactory results. The use of organic fertilizer such as compost, for example, and anti-erosion techniques, have doubled and even quadrupled yields from local seeds. Integrated pest management without using pesticides has led to a 30% increase in production’.
‘In Mali, the Office du Niger rice producers won the prize for best yield, with more than eight tonnes per hectare, using only organic fertilizer and local seeds.[13http://www.networkedintelligence.com/wp">Networked Intelligence for Development.
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[2http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/globalagdevelopment/default.asp">http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/globalagdevelopment/default.asp (Accessed April 13, 2009)
 Williams, Frances. 2009. Food remedies misdirected, says UN envoy. Financial Times. March 10, 2009
 IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development). 2009.
Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report. Washington DC: Island Press; See also McIntyre, Beverly D., Hans R. Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert T. Watson, ed. 2009. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Synthesis Report. Washington DC: Island Press.
 Quote taken from FIRST Institute for Food and Development Policy. Policy Brief No 18 Why the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act will Fail to Curb Hunger by Annie Shattuck and Eric Holt-Giménez April 2009
 A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the foundation bought 500,000 shares of the stock between April and June; the total value was $27.6 million.
 Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Fund Distribution: Gates Foundation Links to Monsanto & GE Crops Development in Kenya. Travis English, AGRA Watch, a project of Community Alliance for Global Justice
 Draper, Peter, Sheila Kiratu and Tanja Hichert (2009) International Institute for Sustainable Development: How Might Agriculture Develop in Southern Africa: Making Sense of Complexity. Winnipeg
 Tandon (2010)
 The Royal Society (2009) p.45
 Philip L Bereano and Travis M EnglishLooking in a Gift Horse’s Mouth Third World Network Aug-Sept 2010
 Soyatech (www.soyatech.com) is a global media, marketing, and event company that assists the agribusiness, food, feed and biofuels firms to assess and develop market opportunities through its publications, conferences, webinars, and widely-used internet platform
 JINUKUN, the national network for the sustainable management of natural resources in Benin, is the country’s focal point of COPAGEN, West Africa’s coalition to protect African genetic resources.
 Nicaragua case study – More Than Rain