On tour with TJ Buthelezi & Dubya (22/5/2003)

TJ Buthelezi is a farmer from the Makhatini Flats in South Africa who, courtesy of Monsanto and its lobbyists, pops up around the globe at almost every PR opportunity.  Quote from item 2: "Mr. Bush made no mention of the United States' own strong economic interest in the outcome of the dispute with Europe. American corporations lead the world in biotechnology and are anxious to open the lucrative European market."

1.On tour with TJ Buthelezi
2.Bush Links Europe's Ban on Bio-Crops With Hunger - NY Times
1.On tour
John Vidal
Eco soundings, The Guardian, Wednesday May 21, 2003

When US trade representative Robert Zoellick announced last week that the US would take Europe to the World Trade Organisation court over GM foods, the press conference was attended by some of the biotech industry's finest ambassadors. One special guest of the government was Greg Conko, of the rightwing Competitive Enterprise Institute, which funds pro-GM websites. But there also was TJ Buthelezi, a "small farmer" from Natal, South Africa. Buthelezi is becoming a star turn. In the past year, he has popped up courtesy of the industry on pro-GM platforms in Washington, Brussels, Pretoria, St Louis, London, Johannesburg and Philadelphia. He also was on the "fake parade" at the Johannesburg earth summit, when the biotech industry rustled up its friends for a pro-GM demo. Not bad for a small farmer.
...for more on the Fake Parade:

Bush Links Europe's Ban on Bio-Crops With Hunger
New York Times, 22 May 2003

NEW LONDON, Conn., May 21 President Bush charged today that Europe's ban on genetically modified food had discouraged third world countries from using that technology and thus undermined efforts to end hunger in Africa.  Mr. Bush's accusation, long a complaint of American farmers, was made during a graduation speech at the United States Coast Guard Academy that dwelled on initiatives to combat AIDS and poverty.

It is almost certain to exacerbate the divisions between Washington and Europe that emerged before the war in Iraq. While Mr. Bush has made the case before that Europe should stop obstructing the sale of genetically modified food, today was the first time he linked that policy with world hunger.

The speech signaled the tough stance Mr. Bush is likely to take when he goes to France in 10 days for the annual economic summit meeting of seven major industrialized nations and Russia. White House officials have already said Mr. Bush plans no reconciliation with the leaders of France and Germany, beyond what they call a perfunctory "courtesy visit" to President Jacques Chirac during the summit meeting, to be held in the French town of Évian.

In a speech that the White House said would put forward what aides called a positive agenda that would show a far softer side to American foreign policy, Mr. Bush insisted that widened use of "high-yield bio-crops" would greatly increase agricultural productivity in some of the poorest nations.

"Yet our partners in Europe are impeding this effort," he said, clearly meaning France and Germany, though he named no countries. "They have blocked all new bio-crops because of unfounded, unscientific fears."  The result, he charged, was that African nations that fear being shut out of European markets are not investing in the technology. He appeared to be referring to countries like Uganda and Namibia.  "European governments should join, not hinder, the great cause of ending hunger in Africa," he said.

Mr. Bush made no mention of the United States' own strong economic interest in the outcome of the dispute with Europe. American corporations lead the world in biotechnology and are anxious to open the lucrative European market.

Last week the administration filed the equivalent of a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization to force Europe to lift its ban on genetically modified food, a step that Mr. Bush had delayed during the debate on Iraq.

Inside the White House, the emotions about the countries that tried to stop the invasion are still raw; recently a senior administration official told reporters that diplomacy to disarm Saddam Hussein had been going well until, in the official's view, France stabbed the United States in the back. The French have complained that such comments are part of a concerted effort by the administration to turn the American public against France and its goods.

Today the United States trade representative, Robert B. Zoellick, wrote an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal accusing the European Union of disregarding scientific evidence and sending "a devastating signal to developing countries that stand to benefit most from innovative agricultural technologies."  He charged that some African countries were refusing American food aid "because of fabricated fears stoked by irresponsible rhetoric about food safety."

The European public has been highly reluctant to purchase any genetically modified products, citing unknown long-term health and environmental risks. European officials have said that the Bush administration can argue over the openness of the European market but that they reject as underhanded the implication that their stricter rules on genetically modified food are somehow responsible for hunger in Africa.

Tony van der Haegen, the expert for food safety at the European Union, said administration officials had been "a bit unfair to whip Europeans" when they had never blocked food aid. Last week European officials charged that the administration was manufacturing its claims.  "The U.S. claims that there is a so-called moratorium," Pascal Lamy, the top European trade official, said last week, "but the fact is that the E.U. has authorized G.M. varieties in the past and is currently processing applications. So what is the real U.S. motive in bringing a case?"

Yet as a practical matter, the European Union had an unwritten moratorium on new varieties of bio-crops until last year. Since then it has approved only two applications for new imports.  Europeans have also demanded that any genetically modified foods be labeled, a move that American farmers say would condemn the products to the back shelves, where they would sit unsold. The United States suit has been joined by a number of other nations, many of which are seeking free trade agreements with the United States.

Mr. Bush's speech here, delivered in a drizzling rain as Coast Guard vessels bobbed in the waters behind him, marked a return to the state where he was born - a native status that the adopted Texan rarely talks about, identifying himself more with Midland, the Texas town in which he grew up.  But his birthplace was just too close today to be ignored, and Mr. Bush opened his speech by saying, "You know, I was born in this state, just down the road." He was greeted by laughter, then applause. "I've still got relatives living here," he said.

In his speech, Mr. Bush commended Congress for passing legislation authorizing greater spending around the world on AIDS treatment, a bill he said he would sign next week.  He called anew for financing for the Millennium Challenge Account, a new approach to development aid that would grant money to nations that demonstrated a commitment to remaking their justice systems, spending more on health and education, and adopting market-opening measures.  "When I'm in Europe," he said, pointing to another likely subject of contention, "I will call on America's partners to join us in moving beyond the broken development policies of the past, and encourage the freedom and reform that lead to prosperity."
"There is absolutely no justification to produce genetically modified food except the profit motive and the domination of the multinational corporations."  U.N. human rights envoy and special investigator on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, U.N. food envoy questions safety of gene crops (Reuters, 15 Oct 2002) http://ngin.tripod.com/151002c.htm

"It's wicked, when there is such an excess of non-GM food aid available, for GM to be forced on countries for reasons of GM politics... if there is an area where anger needs to be harnessed it is here."  UK Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, speaking at a briefing of British parliamentarians, November 27, 2002 http://ngin.tripod.com/271102d.htm

"[UK Prime Minister] Blair's chief scientific adviser denounced the United States' attempts to force the technology into Africa as a 'massive human experiment'. In a scathing attack on President Bush's administration, Professor David King also questioned the morality of the US's desire to flood genetically modified foods into African countries, where people are already facing starvation in the coming months." The Observer, UK, Sep 1, 2002 http://ngin.tripod.com/forcefeed.htm


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