Access all areas - Syngenta / Bum week for GMOs (7/12/2005)

1.New Labour's GM love-fest - report launched today / Bum week for GMOs
2.Blair's 'Statesman of the Decade Award' tonight

for more on the Syngenta-New Labour love-fest and DfID's new ag policy, see:

1.New Labour love-fest on GMOs/Bum week for GMOs
from Eco Soundings
by John Vidal
The Guardian, December 7, 2005 [shortened]

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[Blair's] Development secretary Hilary Benn today unveils Britain's long-awaited strategy for agriculture in poor countries, and GM crops, as expected, are to be officially blessed. What happy timing, then, that Michael Pragnell, chief executive of Syngenta, the world's third largest GM company, should be in London last week to give a talk about poverty in Africa at No 11 Downing Street. Listeners included Benn, Treasury and Department for International Development officials, and some of the Commons international select committee. Syngenta's extraordinary access to No 11 came courtesy of the Smith Institute - named after former Labour leader John - which was launching a publication, sponsored by Syngenta and with an essay by Pragnell. Both organisations were adamant that GM was not on the agenda, even though the government's friendship with the company is clearly blooming. The head of the Syngenta Foundation is former DfID man Andrew Bennett, and DfID's chief scientist is Gordon Conway - who while running the Rockefeller Foundation in the US launched the Nairobi-based group known as the African Agricultural Technology Foundation - with the help of DfID and all major GM companies.

Farming in the frame

All in all, it was an interesting week for GM agriculture. The Indian farm minister said the GM cotton crop had failed in two states; Monsanto seized a bank account of the Confederation Paysanne, France's second largest agriculture trade union; the technology was rejected in a referendum in Switzerland, the home of Syngenta; and Russian and Italian research pointed to potential health problems in rats and mice fed GM soya and peas.

Commercial break

Seen those BP [British Petroleum] ads on TV and in the press? Impressed that the oil giant is getting the message on climate change? Think again. BP is also running a big advertising campaign in the US to coincide with the Montreal climate talks.

Both versions have the same graphics, the same nifty tune, the same style. But whereas we Brits are told to "work out your carbon footprint - it's a start", the American consumer is told: "We're investing $15bn in finding new oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico - it's a start."

2.Blair to be declared 'Statesman of the Decade'
tonight [thanks for this info to nlpwessex]

"A lavish award ceremony to declare Tony Blair the 'Statesman of the Decade' in London this week is causing turmoil among British officials, who are scrambling to welcome an unexpected host of foreign leaders... Dozens of presidents, prime ministers and other dignitaries are expected to attend the occasion [on Wednesday evening]"
- Blair award causes protocol nightmare, Daily Telegraph, 5 December 2005

Blair to be declared 'Statesman of the Decade'
December 05, 2005 22:51 IST

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to be declared the 'Statesman of the Decade' in London this week for tirelessly demonstrating responsibility towards helping those most in need.

Dozens of presidents, prime ministers and other dignitaries are expected to attend the occasion, organised by the EastWest Institute, an American think tank, where the award declaring Blair 'the Statesman of the Decade' will be conferred on him.

Video tributes will be recorded by President George W Bush, his predecessor Bill Clinton, the ex-president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general.

EastWest Institute 25th Annual Awards Dinner
Prime Minister
Statesman of the Decade Award
Wednesday, 7 December 2005
London [location otherwise unspecified - presumably to stop members of the public turning up to express their view]

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