Tonight, you make me so ashamed.
I just read a Des Moines Iowa paper quoting you, Robert Paarlberg, author of "Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa," as saying "U.S. agricultural aid is needed to help African scientists to do their own modification of food crops. Let them get comfortable with the technology, and let them sell it to their governments."
Forgive me, but you don't seem aware of what an astoundingly arrogant and patently racist remark that is. You are essentially saying "Let the dumb black African scientists get "comfortable" with technology, they who are "starved" for science." It's a clever dual use of the word - suggesting on one hand that they are ignorant savages still (utterly without modern knowledge) and that you are a humanitarian wanting to help the "starving" of Africa.
You do realize that you may as well be a paid mouthpiece for Monsanto, right? Does it make you the least bit uncomfortable that Monsanto is considered for good and multiple reasons the evilest corporation in the world? http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Monsanto-Roundup-Glyphosate.htm Do you recognize that your work is helping Monsanto to force onto Africans what they, in their "black ignorance" and even though "starving," have vociferously and repeatedly said they don't want?
Let me quote these backward people at length:
The Thika Declaration on GMOs. Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum, 20 August, 2004
"It is not that farmers are against new technologies, so long as these technologies will not force and destroy our indigenous seed varieties, will not change our native farming systems knowledge and will not render us helpless and at the mercy of the Trans National Companies to monopolize even on what we eat."
-Mr Moses Shaha, Chairman of the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (Kenya Times, 25 August 2004)
The Thika Declaration on GMOs
Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum 20 August, 2004
We, the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum leaders, representing crop farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, do declare today, August 20th 2004, that farming is our livelihood and not just a trade. Farming has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
GMOs are a danger to food security and our indigenous gene pool. Patented GMO crops threaten farmers' ability to save and share their indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. Thus they will reduce our seed security and food security, without the long and short term effects on our health and environment being known. GMOs will hand control of our food systems to the multinational companies, who have created these seeds for financial gain, and not for our need.
These new seeds may create conflict between farmers due to the risks of cross pollination from GMO to non GMO crops leading to contamination between farms.
GMOs will increase costs for farmers. This new kind of agriculture has been produced using a complicated and expensive process called genetic engineering. To make their profits back from the farmers, the companies patent the GMO seeds, which leads to higher costs for farmers, who are then forbidden from saving and sharing their seeds for planting the following season. If the seeds fail, farmers are left in great destitution. The agrochemicals associated with GM crops will oblige farmers to pay the high prices set by the companies, and replace the need for paid farm labour, thereby threatening our livelihoods.
GMOs threaten Kenya's environment. A clean environment is a fundamental right for all. GMOs on the contrary are contaminative, unfriendly to our biodiversity, and pose a threat to the existence of our indigenous seeds, to organic farming systems, and to human and animal health in general.
Our government is being arm-twisted to accept GMOs by multinationals, without considering the effects on small scale farmers.
Small scale farmers in Kenya should be included in policy formulation on agriculture research and food security. Government should invest in irrigation, improvement of infrastructure, appropriate technologies, marketing, subsidies, credit, farm inputs and better rangeland management, and NOT ON GMOs.
We believe that God created life, and no one can own it, not even Monsanto, Syngenta or other multinational companies. We therefore reject all GMOs in agriculture, and call upon the Kenyan government to respect our indigenous expertise. Therefore to be able to fully understand the effects of GMOs on our livelihoods, health and environment, we demand a twenty-year moratorium on GMOs in Kenya.
Then, in relation to the Biosafety Protocol being drafted in their country, the dumb-ass backward black people had this to say:
"A Biosafety Bill should provide protection to Kenyans and the environment, and ensure that the future of Kenya's agriculture and farmers is not compromised." Said Moses Shaha, chairman of Kenya Small Scale Farmers' Forum (KESSFF). "There are many possible risks from the widespread use of GMOs, and any Bill must seek to minimise the likelihood of these risks."
Eric Kisiangani of Intermediate Technology Development Group - East Africa (ITDG-EA) added, "Kenya's Biosafety Bill needs to be rigorous and should have strong safety standards to regulate any import, growth and use of GMOs. However this draft Bill seems to be more of a mechanism to facilitate and approve GMOs, rather than to regulate them."
"Neither the Kenyan people nor civil society or environmental groups have been consulted in the drafting of the Biosafety Bill." Said Oduor Ong'wen of Southern and East Africa Trade Information Network Initiative (SEATINI). "Perhaps that is why the Kenyan draft Bill does not even conform to the minimum standards recommended under the international UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, as shown by legal experts affiliated to the African Union."
"There are better and cheaper options than GMOs for tackling the problems faced by Kenyan farmers, which do not jeopardize Kenyan interests or endanger our people and nature." Pointed out Thari Kulissa of ECOTERRA Intl. "For example, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), has shown how intercropping with napier grass and desmodium can protect against stemborers and weeds, increase soil fertility and provide fodder for cattle. Why do we need expensive and risky GMOs when we already have the answers?"
Zachary Makanya of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) added, "Our organisations have come together out of concern that the Kenyan government is rushing to allow GMOs into our agriculture, without considering the damaging effects, precautionary measures on how to prevent them, or means to compensate farmers and consumers who are harmed by them. The safety of GMOs has not been proven, and we should not just assume that organisms with genes from completely different species like bacteria are safe for us to eat or plant. These new organisms must not be allowed to contaminate our seeds.
"GMO crops are patented, which means that farmers pay higher prices for seeds, and are forbidden from saving or sharing their seed for the following season. GMOs therefore have huge potential to harm Kenyan farmers' livelihoods. The Biosafety Bill must reflect these concerns and potential dangers. But the current draft fails to do so."
And it turns out some skullduggery - imagine that - was going on by the corporations associated with just the bio-"technology" you think you know is best for people who have had a lot of previous experience with white Westerners claiming just the same - to be interested in helping them out when they don't wish that "help" and have lost by it for centuries.
"Article from The East African Standard (Kenya). Date: 23 August 2004
The newly-registered Kenya Small-Scale Farmers Forum yesterday claimed that the Government was being arm-twisted by multinationals to accept genetically modified food whose consumers become infertile as recently proved by German sheepkeepers.
The group representing farmers, pastoralists and the fishermen further expressed fear that as famine continued, some developed countries offering food aid might slip into the country the terminator technology seeds that threaten farmers' ability to save and share indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. During a news conference in Thika, national chairman Moses Shaha said GMOs posed a great danger to food security and other indigenous gene pool because they were dormant and would mix through cross pollination.
This will hand over control of our food system to multi-national companies who have created these seeds for financial gain increasing costs for farmers through the use of agrochemicals association with GM crops replacing the need for farm labour.
Shaha said GMOs threatened Kenya's environment as it was contaminative and unfriendly to bio diversity posing a threat to the existence of indigenous seeds, organic farming system, human and animal health
So, why are you participating in something so grossly undemocratic, as well as something so unnatural when natural things will more than suffice? A recently released and major UN study shows that organic farming - which the "ignorant of science" black people of Africa, especially the farmers, actually want - can feed Africa? Do they not have that right?
Let us put aside for one minute the glorification of biotech that is hawked incessantly through millions paid in corporate PR and also whether genetic engineering is the much-better-than-God-knew-how answer to all the world's problems and get down to nuts and bolts. Those seeds come at hugely high prices and are being sold to people with nothing. In India, Monsanto is selling Bt-cotton seeds for 1000% more than normal seeds and the technology you are so enraptured with for people too backward to understand it, has led to what may be the largest recorded mass suicide in human history. That technology comes with killing debt. And worst, and the point of the whole thing, it comes with patents. Anyone who truly cared about Africans' and Africa's well-being would not want to end farmers' rights to collect seeds freely off their own land and to participate in and gain from their own hard work and nature's bounty.
But what you propose would have them forever trapped in having to buy seeds again and again, disconnected from the safety and generosity of nature, and instead allowing these "beneficent" corporations to own growth itself and impoverish unto death the farmers. Biotechnology is a way to own the means of production - seeds. It turns farmers into wage laborers on their own land (for as long as it is their land and doesn't force them off and become part of a warp speed corporate take over of farm land around the world). Why are you participating in such an economic disaster for small farmers? For a continent that is essentially being colonized agriculturally by means of seed patents? The way this works economically in terms of ownership of seeds and the downstream consequences of ever using them is so obvious and destructive, I do not understand why a Wellesley professor would have any part in such a monopoly over the poor.
I don't know how old you are but I am guessing old enough to remember when another corporation went into Africa bringing "better things" to the dumb and dirty black people there. The Nestle corporation gave away free baby formula to mothers after delivery. The babies drank the formula and the mothers' milk dried up. They went back to their villages unable to nurse and so needing to rely on contaminated water sources to mix with the formula which, incidentally, cost a whole year's wages. Science. A wonderful gift from the West, just like you are suggesting, and again to starving people. A humanitarian gift it was called. Nice of them. Dead babies. Big profits. Oh, how'd that slip in there? It took a worldwide protest against Nestle for years to stop them, I guess because they just were so committed to helping protect black babies from the stupidity their mothers nursing them and letting the mothers' immune systems protect the babies from the lousy water. And stupid of the mothers, as well, for providing breast milk to their babies absolutely for free, from their filthy, black, protective breasts.
Because, for sure, that same "science" that pans normal life and lauds industrializing it for profit and which you condescendly push on stupid Africa, for quite some time in the US had quite a lot to say about how dirty breast-feeding was in general. No self-respecting educated, modern mother would do such a thing. Only the ignorant. Doctors - who are, after all, always right - pushed and shamed mothers into giving their babies bottled milk (goodness, the poor milk industry just had to put up with all those new sales). Babies need formula in bottles, mothers were told, or else they'll be exposed to ... germs. Yikes. So, though mothers had breast fed babies since the beginning of human history, the scientific and medical establishment actually managed to almost completely stop it in the US and in many parts of the world and to separate mothers from their babies. And they did it in the name of "modern science" which "knew better." Only decades later did those who kept saying breast feeding was valuable manage to amass enough "other science" - and considerably better science it turns out but deficient only in its not being worth a plug nickel to a single corporation - to prove that the bacteria in breast milk are necessary. Good. Important. They help build the babies' immunity and the colostrum they get from the mothers' dirty breasts is protective until babies' own immunity is in place. Stupid mothers who wouldn't listen to doctors who knew better. Doctors who had the same industrial science is better than normal life on their side that you are using as well.
I have personal feelings about all this because I boycotted Nestle, amazed that simply learning they were killing babies didn't stop them, and because I had children while the whole medical arrogance and stupidity about breast feeding was coming to an end. In the course of only 3 years, doctors went from saying mothers should breast feed for one month - absolutely no more - and with baby food to supplement, to saying they should breast feed for six months and definitely without baby food, to saying they should breast feed for a full year with no baby food. At the end of that slew of "expertise," it was clear they didn't know a thing, these same doctors who had just previously pushed bottle feeding for decades.
The Germans used science, too. As did the Rockefellers who promoted eugenics, which the Germans borrowed from them. Oh, and the Rockefellers are deeply involved in genetic engineering. The connections to Nazis is actually deep but there is room here only to ask again how you can be on the side of these modern day totalitarians who are overrunning democracies again and people's wishes and killing farmers, again in the name of science? Why would you do that? Are you getting funding from them?
Why do you not seeing who is benefitting from shoving something an entire continent doesn't want on them or the giant plans that moving into place?
*Ten companies now control more than two-thirds of global proprietary seed sales.
*Ten companies now control almost 90% of agrochemical sales worldwide.
*Ten companies now account for three-quarters of industry revenues.
Do you have any idea how dangerous that is to all of humankind?
Yet Obama who claims he is connected to the grassroots is promoting genetic engineering though people around the world are screaming they don't want it. Are they dumb people? 850,000 members of the Organic Consumers Association, thousands of members of Slow Food and thousands more of Food and Water Watch and thousands more at Health Freedom and thousands more at the Center for Food Safety. And that is only in the US. In Europe they detest genetic engineering and deeply resent how the US and Monsanto has been trying for years to force it on them.
And are the blacks in the National BLACK Farmers Association also science starved that they have a boycott out on every single Monsanto products? Or do they as farmers know something about genetic engineering and dealing with biotech that you - sitting in an office in Wellesley, Massachusetts, never having raised a single crop or paid an exorbitant price to Monsanto for seeds or signed their "technology agreement" or paid their extra price per acre for their technology or faced the lawsuits they bring so frequently against farmers or lived in fear of them - wouldn't know anything about?
Tonight, I am ashamed to think that my college and a professor there would be involved on the wrong side of a literal worldwide battle to reject genetic engineering. Neither of you seemed to have learn enough from the Nazi's use of "science" to be able to recognize with searing clarity that "science" is just a tool and is being used murderously again, this time to literally colonize whole populations for the control and massive financial benefit of a few biotech corporations and to the utter destruction of people caught in its patent and pesticide trap.
If you would leave the lab and go stay on a farm with the people who are suffering from just the thing you are promoting with such certainty over worldwide objections, you might see the stark and horrific and deadly economic realities biotech has already demonstrated in India.
Notice that though Europeans have been doing everything in their power to keep genetic engineering out, you don't condescend and say they are "starving for science."
Perhaps you owe an apology to Africans for not only insulting their intelligence and doing so while promoting something they know full well will lead them just where Monsanto has taken Indian farmers - to death. The plain truth is that Africans know more of the FULL reality of biotech than you do who sees one small piece and has missed the monopoly, the debt, the pesticides, the loss of human rights and democracy that comes with those evil seeds,
And I'll ask again what I have asked before here, what the hell is Obama thinking to be involved in promoting genetic engineering - especially to poor black people who have suffered enough?
Des Moines Register - Obama, like Bush, may be ag biotech ally, By Philip Brasher
Brasher: Obama, like Bush, may be ag biotech ally
By Philip Brasher – November 23, 2008
Des Moines Register
Washington, D.C. - The agricultural biotechnology business could hardly have had a better friend than George W. Bush.
His administration challenged the European Union's anti-biotech regulations and avoided imposing rules domestically that would hinder the industry's growth, with the exception of the most controversial products, such as pharmaceutical crops.
But there are clues President-elect Barack Obama could be an ally of the industry, too, especially in the effort to put biotech crops into widespread use in Africa. These hints come from both statements of policy and the type of people from whom he's taking advice.
- Obama explicitly endorsed genetically engineered crops in an answer to a candidate questionnaire initiated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other scientific groups. He said biotech crops "have provided enormous benefits" to farmers and expressed confidence "that we can continue to modify plants safely."
- His top scientific advisers during the campaign included Sharon Long, a former board member of the biotech giant Monsanto Co., and Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate who co-chaired a key study of genetically engineered crops by the National Academy of Sciences back in 2000.
- Obama has endorsed the idea of a second Green Revolution, a concept understood to include biotechnology, to feed the world's growing population. In an exchange of letters last June with Norman Borlaug, the Iowa-born plant breeder who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the first Green Revolution, Obama said he was "deeply committed to greater agriculture research and global agricultural development."
- Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, an outspoken proponent of agricultural biotechnology, is considered a leading candidate to become Obama's agriculture secretary. The Biotechnology Industry Organization named him its governor of the year in 2001.
- Obama has called for doubling foreign development aid to $50 billion and establishing a special initiative to provide farmers in poor countries with affordable fertilizer and "improved seeds."
Obama's official statements on development are "pretty strong on agricultural science," said Robert Paarlberg, author of the recent book "Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa."
"I certainly haven't seen any sense of opposition to technology."
Obama's administration will be closely watched to see whether he follows through. Public and congressional interest in boosting world food production could wane, given the recent plunge in commodity prices and the global economic slowdown.
"We need an across-the-board revival of our agricultural development work," saidPaarlberg, a Wellesley College professor.
A doubling of government spending on agricultural research over five years could lift more than 280 million people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.
However, U.S. spending on foreign agricultural research has fallen dramatically since the 1980s. And even though Congress inserted $150 million in agricultural development assistance in an emergency spending bill this year at a time when food prices were soaring worldwide, that extra money only compensated for a cut that lawmakers had made earlier in the aid budget.
Paarlberg says U.S. agricultural aid is needed to help African scientists to do their own modification of food crops.
"Let them get comfortable with the technology, and let them sell it to their governments," he said.
In the long run, he says, that would make biotechnology more acceptable in Africa than continuing to push the biotech products from U.S. seed companies like Monsanto and Johnston-based Pioneer Hi-Bred.
Africa is home to more than 900 million people, or 14 percent of the world's population. Regardless of how it's done, the U.S. industry would surely count any president a friend who opens that continent to biotechnology.
"Opens that continent" to biotechnology? Friend?
Does the very language not make clear what this is about? Markets, Wellesley, markets. Go sit in on your excellent history classes.
And "science" (and crappy science at that, failing everywhere and increasingly associated with illnesses of all kinds) is only the bar to pry Africa open, Robert Paarlberg, and you are helping wield it. The British "opened" China to heroin as well - also for corporate profit and at the cost to human beings of death.
A black American president finally getting into office, to turn around and do that to Africa. Whoa.