Monsanto busted for contempt of Advertising Authority in South Africa (24/12/2007)

1.African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution
2.Monsanto busted for contempt of Advertising Authority in South Africa


1.African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution
Food First, 22 December 2007

New at www.foodfirst.org

U.S.-based coalition calls for a moratorium on U.S. incentives for biofuels


Meetings on Climate Change, Hunger, Rural Development and Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution held in Mali, Africa November 26th December 2nd 2007

Food First collaborated with other organizations to bring more than 150 participants from 25 African countries and 10 non-African countries. Attendees including farmers, pastoralists, environmentalists, women, youth and development organizations, gathered at the Nyéléni Center in Selingue, Mali from November 26th to December 2nd. Field trips to area farms helped to inform the discussion on:

-- Climate change and agriculture, fisheries and pastoralism in Africa

-- The fight against hunger

-- Development aid for agriculture and rural development in Africa

-- African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution.

Documents from the meetings are available at www.moreandbetter.org View a YouTube short report by Eric Holt-Giménez at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz3CWWz6XwY

The two-day conference organized by Food First focused on African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution. A number of initiatives from multinational companies, foundations and politicians are pushing a 'new green revolution' in Africa. One of them is Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). In 2006, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a joint $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to save Africa from hunger. AGRA is actually breaking ground for a larger network of chemical, seed, fertilizer companies and Green Revolution institutions seeking to industrialize African agriculture as they have already done in the U.S. and in large parts of Latin America and Asia. AGRA’s high-profile campaign for a new Green Revolution, headed by Kofi Annan, is designed to attract private investment, enroll African governments, and convince African farmers to buy hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers. AGRA is laying the foundation for researchers, institutions, and African farmers to introduce GMO cropsnot only for rice, wheat and maize, but also for cassava, plantain and other African food crops.

The AGRA-led Green Revolution not only threatens the richness of African traditional agriculture, it ignores (and is attempting to co-opt) the many successful African agricultural alternatives including sustainable agriculture, agro-forestry, pastoralism, integrated pest management, farmer-led plant breeding, sustainable watershed management and many other agroecological approaches. Because AGRA is but one-highly visible component of a wider industrial push, attendees realized that they need to decide where to put their energies, and be prepared for the divisive nature of involvement with AGRA.

The participants declared We commit ourselves to:

1. advancing a campaign for African traditional, sustainable and agroecological alternatives to the Green Revolution 2. providing information and promoting public debate at local and national levels about the push for a 'new Green Revolution'

3. demanding transparency and accountability from all Green Revolution institutions and seed, chemical and fertilizer companies.

For more on the conference including a brief history of the Green Revolution go to http://www.foodfirst.org/node/1807


2.Monsanto busted for contempt of Advertising Authority in South Africa
Mathaba News: 2007/12/23

Monsanto is found guilty again this time of breaching the previous ruling on its false advertising claim of 'safe' Monsanto genetically modified produce. Will other legislators take note and resist Monsanto bribery? This Mathaba exclusive report from South Africa.

By Trevor Wells

On 26 June 2006 Mathaba News published an article headlined 'Monsanto tells a pack of lies in South Africa'. That article exposed how Monsanto had told the South African Advertising Authority (ASA) that MON 863 was not their product. MON 863 was in fact their product and had been found to cause damage to to rats in independent trials in Europe. Monsanto had in fact made an application for this product to be released in South Africa. The ASA ordered Monsanto SA to withdraw its advert which depicted a mother with two children in a kitchen looking at a cake. Among other false claims the advert stated 'no substantiated scientific or medical negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported'.

The advert also falsely claimed that genetically modified foods contained enhanced proteins, vitamins and anti-oxidants and removed allergens. Whilst there was an uproar from responsible parenting organisations and in fact proof that no commercial GM products had ever been commercially released with the enhanced claims, the ASA found it unnecessary to deal with those aspects. It ordered the removal of the advert based on the false claim that 'No substantiated scientific or medical to GM foods have ever been reported.'

During the hearing, Monsanto attempted to distract the worthy panel of arbitrators, headed by Justice King, a no non-sense judge who rose to fame as the doyen of 'Corporate Governance', by arguing the merits of GM products as against the truthfulness of their claims. They produced a letter from Covance Laboratories in the USA, which claimed that they were an independent laboratory and which 'praised the benefits of GM Corn.' Justice King ruled that the benefits of GM corn had nothing to do with the case in front of them.

Covance Laboratories have a history of abuse and have been fined on several occasions in Europe and the USA for the appalling conditions under which experiments are conducted and for outright vicious treatment of laboratory animals. Their track record is second only to Monsanto's long history of convictions for racketeering, bribery and corruption. Monsanto clearly lives under the misconception that South African judges are stupid, because apart from the serious submissions mentioned above they would otherwise not have presented Covance Laboratories as an 'independent' source in order to verify their safety claim.

Covance USA's support of Monsanto is even more surprising given the fact that European researchers employed by Covance Laboratories (Europe) discovered and reported numerous biological effects on rats fed MON863, i.e. blood stream anomalies that varied by sex (increase in white blood cell levels and lymphocytes in males, decrease in new red blood cells in females, increase in female blood sugar levels, in addition to renal lesions (inflammations, kidney stones) and variations in kidney weight.

The ink on the judgement ordering the withdrawal of this false advert had hardly dried when, on 21 August 2007, Kobus Steenkamp, Marketing Manager for Monsanto, issued a statement headed: 'ASA accepts Monsanto's 'GM Is Safe' advertisement' and Steenkamp added: 'The Advertising Standards Authority has now approved this advertisement and accepts that the facts have been verified by independent and reliable sources.' He added 'The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has accepted the revised wording from Monsanto, which states, 'no substantiated scientific or medical negative reactions to GM foods have ever been reported'.

According to the article 'Another spin by GM Giant Monsanto' published by The South African NGO net, the Advertising Standards Authority categorically denied Monsanto's statement. Monsanto however went ahead and published their advert with the same picture and wording except for the added 'No substantiated medical or scientific...' part.

Mark Wells, the organic farmer, and founder member of Farmers Legal Action Group, South Africa who was the successful applicant in the previous incident, once more challenged the advert. On 19 December 2007 Judge King of the ASA ruled that despite the amended wording not being exactly the same, the overall communication remains unchanged. A hypothetical reasonable person would interpret the claim to mean that tests were conducted in this regard and no negative reactions were found. The Respondent, Monsanto, is therefore found guilty of breaching the previous ruling.

-- Readers may contact Trevor Wells of the Farmers Legal Action Group-South Africa for PDF copies of the full decision.

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