A year ago GM Watch highlighted an upcoming conference that its organisers said would make "eco-imperialism" a household word. That conference in New York claimed to expose, "The global green movement's war on the developing world's poor". Opposition to GM crops, it claimed, was part of that "war".
The conference featured the likes of Patrick Moore, CS Prakash of AgBioWorld, and Paul Driessen of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. It was primarily organised by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
CORE, which likes to style itself "one of America's premier civil rights organizations", is now to put on what it calls a "U.N. World Conference-2005" on "Biotechnology: Implications & Realities" (see details below)
This U.N. conference will be opened by the Hon. Roy Innis, the National Chairman of CORE. It will also feature Cyril Boynes, jr of CORE, plus a video of "CORE's fact-finding trip to Africa".
So who are CORE? Back in the hay day of the civil rights movement, CORE was indeed one of the "premier civil rights organizations". However, during the 1970s CORE all but collapsed and the remnant was taken over by Roy Innis, who moved the organisation to the Republican right.
Black American journalists, Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, describe CORE under Roy Innis as "a tin cup outstretched to every Hard Right political campaign or cause that finds it convenient - or a sick joke - to hire Black cheerleaders". They report how James Farmer, a civil rights hero and the former head of the original Congress of Racial Equality confronted Roy Innis on TV for turning the organization into what Farmer called a "shakedown" gang.
This is the organisation that is now successfully associating itself with the UN and lauding Norman Borlaug and GM. An added irony is that at CORE's event last year, the UN was in the firing line along with "environmentalists" and "anti-biotech activists" as contributing to hunger and poverty in the Third World through its misplaced "eco-imperialism".
While CORE may be the principal organiser of this year's "World Conference" on "Biotechnology", it is not alone at the conference in having doubtful credibility.
Take, for instance, the speaker "Mr. Chengal P. Reddy - Chairman, Indian Federation of Farmers, India". The term 'federation' is employed very loosely in India and the real constituency of this 'Indian Federation' appears to be quite small. In fact, neither it nor Chengal Reddy are much known outside the State of Andhra Pradesh.
Although Chengal Reddy is contributing to the CORE event in a session titled "Lessons From The Farm", and although he tries to present himself as 'a farmer', he has admitted on occasion to having never farmed in his life! Despite this, Reddy has repeatedly been used by the pro-GM lobby as a prominent representative of 'Third World farmers' at big public events.
In reality, Reddy is about as far removed as one could imagine from a champion of poor farmers. His Federation lobbies on behalf of big commercial farmers and his family have long been a prominent rightwing political force in Andhra Pradesh - his father having famously coined the saying, 'There is only one thing Dalits [untouchable caste members] are good for, and that's being kicked'.
Reddy has worked closely with Monsanto since the mid-1990s, and featured prominently in Monsanto glossy brochure A Celebration of Fifty Years in India (Monsanto 2000). He is also known to have proposed that the Federation become the operational arm in Andhra Pradesh of The Indian Crop Protection Association (ICPA). The ICPA represents India's leading agrochemical companies.
The old links page on the Federation's website was also revealing. There were links to Monsanto and a number of other biotech corporations, to the far right International Policy Network and, perhaps most revealing, to Monsanto's notorious Internet PR firm Bivings, under its previous name of Bivings Woodell Inc.
Bivings were behind the fake agricultural institute CFFAR which tried to link Monsanto's critics to violence and terror, and they also had a role in other poison pen attacks on Monsanto's critics, including the vicious "fake persuader" attacks on Dr Ignacio Chapela.
Welcome to 2005!
1. Black Civil Rights Group to Honor Borlaug on King Birthday
2. U.N. World Conference-2005
Biotechnology: Implications & Realities
1.Black Civil Rights Group to Honor Borlaug on King Birthday
- New York, January 17-18, 2005
World Conference Biotechnology - Implications & Realities
The subject of biotechnology to increase food production has sparked controversy and debate around the world. Proponents argue that the use of biotechnology can increase the efficiency of farmers particularly in developing nations. They also point to the increased resistance to pests and herbicides, the greater nutritional content and the positive effect on the environment that it can have. Opponents cite the unknown long term consequences and ethical implications as their primary reservation in its use. They advocate further testing and stricter regulation. While some parts of the world, such as the US and Japan have embraced biotechnology, other areas and markets have continued to express reservations. In the meantime, people are dying from hunger and disease all over the world.
For this reason, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which has consultative NGO status with the United Nations, has decided to co-sponsor, along with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC), an all day conference to examine all sides of this hot issue. Ambassador Aminu Wali, the Permanent Representativ
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