Archive for February, 2014

Resistance Over GMOs as South Africa Pushes Biotechnology By Busani Bafana

February 7, 2014

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Resistance Over GMOs as South Africa Pushes Biotechnology By Busani Bafana

MASOPANE, South Africa, Jan 27 2014 (IPS) – On a family farm tucked between the rolling hills of Masopane, 40 km outside of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, 35-year-old Sophie Mabhena is dreaming big about her crop of genetically modified (GM) maize.

“This is my dream and I know that I am contributing to food security in South Africa,” she told IPS.

Debate is raging here over the government’s policy to promote the cultivation of GM crops.

This month, South Africa launched a new bio-economy strategy, which the government says will boost public access to food security, better health care, jobs and environmental protection.

The new policy promotes multi-sector partnerships and increased public awareness on the benefits of biotechnology – including the use of GM crops.

Mabhena is growing GM maize on part of her family’s 385-hectare Onverwaght Farm because she says the transgenic maize has saved her 218 dollars a season in dealing with pests and weeds.

“Growing stack maize has reduced my costs in terms of pesticides and labour, but the major benefits are the good yields and income from growing this improved variety of maize,” Mabhena said from Onverwaght Farm where, this season, she expects to harvest up to seven tonnes of maize per hectare.

In-built insect resistance (Bt) maize has been grown in South Africa for the last 15 years, but not without opposition from anti-GM activists.

The benefits of GM maize that Mabhena speaks of are not shared by Haidee Swanby, research and outreach officer at the Africa Centre for Biosafety (ACB), which has been on the forefront of spirited campaigns against GM food in South Africa.

Swanby said that GM technology fits into a concentrated farming system, which requires large volumes based on economies of scale, but does not provide livelihoods or healthy, accessible food for ordinary South Africans.

“We need to take a step back and look at our food system in its entirety and decide what system is equitable, environmentally sound and will provide nutritious food for all,” Swanby told IPS.

“The system in which genetically modified organisms [GMOs] fit can’t do that. Apart from the technological failure – for example, the development of resistant and super weeds – adopting this technology leads to the concentration of power, money, land in the hands of the very few and does not necessarily lead to food security.”

Swanby said it was deeply ironic that controversial research on GM maize by Professor Gilles Eric Seralini from France’s University of Caen was ripped apart by regulators, while approvals to allow GMOs in the South African food system have been based on what she calls “un-peer reviewed science that is very scant on detail.”

A 2012 study by Seralini and his research team linked GM maize to cancer. The study has since been dismissed for failing to meet scientific standards by the European Food Safety Authority, a body responsible for reviewing the use and authorisation of GMOs.

“Very rarely do we see information on how many animals were used, for how long, what they were fed and a full analysis of the results. Why has Monsanto’s [an agricultural company and manufacturer of GM maize] research not been submitted to the same kind of scrutiny as Seralini?”

ACB’s recent report, “Africa Bullied to Grow Defective Bt Maize: The Failure of Monsanto’s MON810 Maize in South Africa”, states that Monsanto’s Bt maize failed hopelessly in South Africa as a result of massive insect resistance only 15 years after its introduction into commercial agriculture.

“Today, 24 percent of South Africans go to bed hungry … but the biotech industry has habitually used yield as an indicator of success and this is too narrow and very misleading,” Swanby said.

The ACB argues that the safety of stacking genes is a new area of science whose long-term sustainability remained questionable and states that Bt technology was approved in South Africa before regulatory authorities had the capacity to properly regulate it.

But Dr. Nompumelelo Obokoh, chief executive officer of AfricaBio, a biotechnology association based in Pretoria, told IPS that the GMO Act was passed in 1997 and before then GM crops were regulated under the Agricultural Pests Act.

“Farmers are business people. If it is so difficult or unprofitable to grow Bt maize why is almost 90 percent of our maize based on biotechnology? Surely, if South African farmers found GM maize so difficult to manage why haven’t they rushed back to the old maize varieties of the past?” asked Obokoh.

In 2011 and 2012, 2.3 million hectares and 2.9 million hectares, respectively, of GM crops were grown in South Africa by both small-scale and commercial farmers.

“Food security is a prime right and biotechnology offers one of the many available solutions,” Obokoh said. “While South Africa is without doubt food secure as a country, we still suffer from food insecurity at household level because of high costs of food and poor incomes. This is where biotechnology is complementing and not competing against conventional farming.”

Anti-GM activist and the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Jeffrey Smith, told IPS via email that bundling herbicide-tolerant GM crops with herbicide use was in conflict with farming. He cited the diversion of much-needed research dollars into development of expensive GMOs and away from more appropriate technologies

“The GMO advocates have also promoted the myth that crop productivity, by itself, can eradicate hunger,” said Smith, arguing that key international reports over the last 15 years describe how economics and distribution are more fundamental to solving this problem.

However, in November the African Science Academies urged African governments to invest heavily on biotechnology, declaring that biotechnology-enhanced tools and products can help Africa break the cycle of hunger, malnutrition and underdevelopment.


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While Sophie Mabhena may be embracing the South African government’s policy to implement biotechnology in farming by growing genetically modified maize, anti-GM experts caution that this does not necessarily lead to food security. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

African Centre for Biosafety: Africa bullied to grow defective Bt Maize


Monsanto Employee Hillary Clinton Counsel US Senator (D), Sec of State

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Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Capitol Hill, behind closed doors, national corporate bully Monsanto is working to ensure its world dominance by pressing President Obama and Congress to fast-track trade deals that force other countries to treat GMOs with the same lack of caution we in the U.S. currently do. Should this come to pass, countries could lose their right to regulate factory farms and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“voluntary” “any products” “if those ingredients present a health or safety risk”

(published in Politico)

“only requires a federal GMO label on any products from GMO plants if those ingredients present a health or safety risk”

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Wolf in sheep’s clothing is an idiom of Biblical origin.

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Hillary Clinton: Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel.

February 6, 2014


#hillaryclinton #barackobama #monsanto #GMO

“Highlights of the Obama Presidency, so far.”


Signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law. This is a partial list of the senior staff of Monsanto, and the high positions they hold/have held in the US government, just in the last 8 years. This is why other governments like France and Hungary protect their citizens from all Monsanto products, and the US Government does not, despite the ever increasing deaths of our bee, bat and butterfly populations.


Hilary Clinton:Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel. US Government Job: US Senator,Secretary of State D-NY under Obama


[We’ve been screwed by both parties, good people.]

[And we’ve been screwed by CNN FOXNEWS and MSNBC.]

[The fact that Democrats would even consider nominating Hillary Clinton is a good indication of just how fast asleep they are.]



Signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law.

Rose Rosetta shared Marianne Hoynes‘s status.
This is a partial list of the senior staff of Monsanto, and the high positions they hold/have held in the US government, just since in the last 8 years. This is why other governments like France and Hungary protect their citizens from all Monsanto products, and the US Government does not, despite the ever increasing deaths of our bee, bat and butterfly populations.
Toby Moffett :
Monsanto Job: Monsanto Consultant. US government job=US Congessman D-CT
Dennis DeConcini:
Monsanto Legal Counsel. US government job=US Senator D-AZ
Lidia Watrud:
Manager, New Technologies, Monsanto. US Government Job: USDA, EPA under Clinton, Bush, Obama
Michael Taylor:
VP, Public Policy for Monsanto. US Government Job: Dep. Commiss. FDA under Obama
Hilary Clinton:
Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel. US Government Job: US Senator,Secretary of State D-NY under Obama
Roger Beachy:
Director, Monsanto Danforth Center. US Government Job: Director USDA NIFA Under
Islam Siddiqui:
Monsanto Lobbyist. UD Government Job: Agricultural Negotiator, Trade Rep Under Obama

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297 scientists and experts agree GMOs not proven safe
*EU chief scientist Anne Glover’s backing for GM condemned as “irresponsible”
*Independent researchers work double shift to address “red flags” on GMO safety
Press release, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, 10 Dec 2013

The statement indirectly challenges claims by EU chief science adviser Anne Glover that there is no
evidence that GM foods are any riskier than non-GM foods.[2]

Dr Rosa Binimelis Adell, board member of ENSSER, said, “It seems that Anne Glover chooses to listen to
one side of the scientific community only – the circle of GMO producers and their allied scientists – and
ignores the other. Thus she is giving biased advice to the EU Commission. For a science adviser, this is
irresponsible and unethical.”


January 2014


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TPP treaty would establish independent tribunals that would allow corporations to bypass member countries’ judicial systems

February 4, 2014


Wed, 18 Sep 2013

by News From the War Against the Middle Class: The World’s Most Accurate Economic Forecaster

By Joshua Holland

Last week, a new study found that the top ten percent of American households raked in over half of the nation’s income in 2012. The results were widely reported, but another study garnered less attention. It concluded that your government is working hard to boost the incomes of the top ten percent further, while continuing to depress the wages of the vast majority of American families.

The study, by economist David Rosnick at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, attempts to estimate the likely effects on wages from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-trade deal that’s been negotiated out of view of the public, with what government transparency watchdogs call an “unprecedented level of secrecy.”

The TPP is a proposed deal between twelve countries in the Americas and Asia. It would expand an already controversial agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, and Singapore – if finalized, it would become the biggest trade pact ever.

These kinds of regional deals are the neoliberal response to widespread opposition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and they include the most controversial provisions on multinational corporations’ wish-lists – measures that have been stuck at the WTO for years.

Public Citizen calls the TPP a “corporate power tool for the one percent.” According to a leaked draft agreement, the treaty would establish independent tribunals that would allow corporations to bypass member countries’ judicial systems to challenge domestic laws and regulations that interfere with their business. According to an analysis of the text by Public Citizen, “the tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the investors suing the governments” – a conflict of interest that would never stand in an American courtroom. The tribunals could order countries to pay monetary damages to foreign investors if they didn’t comply with the rulings. Fair trade activists call it a back door to deregulation.

Writing at the Campaign for America’s Future, Dave Johnson notes that Chile’s lead negotiator recently quit his job in order to warn that “the TPP is solidifying multinational corporate control over the Internet, copyrights [and] patents (especially drug patents),” and that “giant financial interests are solidifying their current control over the regulatory process.” (Last year, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson detailed how Wall Street might use international trade deals to derail reforms like Dodd-Frank.)


That’s a lot of controversy. Yet according to Rosnick, economists estimate that the TPP will have only a miniscule impact on our overall economic growth in the future – if enacted, it’s projected to increase U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by only 0.13 percent between 2015 and 2025. As Rosnick puts it, “this figure is meaninglessly tiny in almost any reasonable context.”

But the distributional effects are anything but trivial. Rosnick expects those at the bottom of the ladder to be protected by minimum wage laws, those at the top – highly paid professionals and the investor class — to see their incomes increase significantly as a result of TPP’s expanded patent protections and intellectual property rights, and the vast majority in the middle to experience yet more downward mobility.

Estimates of how much trade has contributed to rapidly rising economic inequality vary. In his study, Rosnick extrapolated the TPP’s impact on wages based on four different estimates of how much trade deals have contributed to rising inequality in the past. The graphic below illustrates his results.

All four estimates result in the median wage – the one right in the middle of the pile – declining in absolute terms. Rosnick writes, “thus, under any reasonable assumptions about the effect of trade on inequality… the majority of workers” will suffer “a net loss as the result of these trade agreements.” And again, the pact’s overall impact on growth would be negligible.

This dynamic – those at the top grabbing a bigger share of the pie while the rest of us lose ground – is typical of these trade deals for the simple reason that they’re not negotiated with the greater good in mind. Rather, they provide a shining example of how economic inequality and political inequality are inexorably linked. As former trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz writes in Foreign Policy, the winners of these trade agreements are always “going to be the shareholders — the guys at the Business Roundtable who dominate the ‘cleared advisors’ to the trade representative and who, of course, are investing most of the money that’s being invested to make this deal happen. They own it, so it’s likely that they will win something from it.” They’re the only ones who can even take a look at what’s being discussed behind closed doors by TPP negotiators; the only ones who have the U.S. trade representative’s ear.

This is what proponents of these pacts overlook or ignore. They rely on idealized economic theories of trade to argue that signing more binding trade deals will lift all boats. And in a perfect world, those theories might hold true. But in reality, these deals are about corporate lobbyists getting their firms’ narrow, bottom-line interests codified into international trade law – the one area of international law that is readily enforceable. That a majority of workers, the environment, food safety and public health regulations and a host of other priorities are given short shrift should come as no surprise – those things don’t help powerful multinationals’ bottom lines.

This article, Study: Mega-Trade Deal Would Make Most Americans Poorer, is syndicated from Moyers & Company

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TPP Opponents in Phoenix demonstrate at senatorial offices

“Expose TPP Phoenix AZ Friday 31 January 2014 Senators John McCain Jeff Flake”

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