GM crops of no benefit to poor, says ActionAid (28/5/2003)

*GM crops of no benefit to poor, says ActionAid
*GM crops 'may push poorest farmers into debt'
GM crops of no benefit to poor, says ActionAid
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday May 28, 2003

Widespread adoption of GM crops would not help feed the world as their promoters claim, according to ActionAid.  So great are the dangers that GM crops will worsen the plight of the 800 million hungry people in the world that there should be a moratorium until more research is done, it says in a report published today.

"Instead of focusing on risky technologies that have no track record in addressing hunger" policy should be directed to giving poor people land, credit, resources, and markets so they can feed themselves and sell their surplus crops.

After research in four continents among nine million farmers, ActionAid concludes that GM crops are more likely to benefit rich corporations than poor people.    Only 1% of GM research is aimed at crops used by poor farmers in poor countries. It can cost up to £200m and 12 years to develop a GM crop, and that cost has to be recouped by selling to farmers who can pay for it.   

"It is not the interests of poor farmers but the profits of the agrochemical industry that have been the driving force behind the emergence of GM agriculture. Four multinationals - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, and Dupont - now control most of the GM seed market. About 91% of all GM crops grown in the world are from Monsanto seeds."

The report says corporations extend their markets by linking herbicides and pesticides to the GM seeds they sell. But yields are no greater and in some cases more chemicals are needed, while the much higher costs could drive poor farmers into debt.
GM crops 'may push poorest farmers into debt'
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
The Independent, 28 May 2003

Genetically modifided crops will not tackle world hunger and could threaten the livelihoods of Third World farmers, a new study has said. The report is published today by the charity ActionAid, before the start of the Government's long-awaited debate on GM next week.

US President George Bush claimed last week the EU had blocked efforts to use GM crops to fight famine because of "unfounded, unscientific fears".  

But the research found that the new technology threatened to push poor farmers deeper into debt. Using evidence from Asia, Africa and Latin America, the report concludes that rather than alleviating world hunger, GM is likely to lead to  more hungry people, not fewer. Matthew Lockwood, ActionAid's head of policy, said: "GM does not provide a magic bullet solution to world hunger. "

Among the findings are that GM seeds are more suited to the needs of large-scale commercial, rather than poor farmers, and that expansion is driven by corporate profit of four multinationals - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and DuPont.  Farmers are not allowed to save GM seed from one harvest to the next. "Terminator technology", which produces sterile seeds, is also being developed. There is also "no consistent evidence" that GM crops yield more and require fewer chemicals.

In Pakistan, ActionAid has investigated how poor farmers have been enticed to buy GM cotton seeds. The results have been disappointing, with many farmers losing their crops.

The US biotech industry spends $250m a year promoting GM. "What is causing world hunger is poverty and inequality. Money would be far better spent tackling these problems than poured into GM technology," said Adriano Campolina Soares from ActionAid Brazil.

"European governments should join -- not hinder -- the great cause of ending hunger in Africa" - George W. Bush

"U.S. aid remains well below historical standards and far below other donor countries."   http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/oneworld/20030522/wl_oneworld /118151053610546

"But this is far more than a food fight. In a very real sense, it's the same struggle recently demonstrated in Iraq" - Dennis Avery in 'Biotechnology, Iraq and the Shape of Tomorrow's World', Center for Global Food Issues, May 23, 2003

"The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans." - USAID website

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive