|THE WEEKLY WATCH NUMBER 75 - and monthly review (4/6/2004)|
from Claire Robinson, editor
Our main focus this week is again on Africa and particularly South Africa, a land where GM industry insiders are also the regulators (FOCUS ON AFRICA)! As Africa seems to be the only place where the industry is still expanding, let's hope they take warning from China, where confirmation has emerged of growing problems of pest resistance to Bt crops (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL).
Outside of dumping the technology on Africa, almost the industry's last hope is the US-led World Trade Organisation case against the European Union. Three WTO judges met in secret this week and a ruling is expected by October. Friends of the Earth Europe last week delivered more than 100,000 signatures objecting to the WTO's involvement given that the organisation is "secretive, undemocratic and unfit to serve in the interests of the general public".
Meanwhile, the industry meltdown continues apace, with Bayer following Monsanto in withdrawing from Australian GM canola trials. We also have a fascinating story of the possible death of Monsanto's GM bovine growth hormone amid revelations of bacterial contamination, forced into the open under the US Freedom of Information Act (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL).
And right now protesters are preparing counter events to the big Biotechnology Industry Organisation bash in San Francisco next week (June 6-9). They aim to "dazzle the forces of corporate globalization with streets full of resistance and vision!" Plans include shutting down the BIO2004 meeting on Tuesday, June 8th, in protest at corporate power gone awry and in solidarity with the G8 demonstrations. http://reclaimthecommons.net/
Finally, don't miss our new LobbyWatch website - www.lobbywatch.org - which exposes industry-generated lies and spin. It's specifically designed for those campaigning on issues other than GM.
LobbyWatch aims to help to create a united front against deceptive PR, and the links section of the website not only connects you to a wealth of other sources of information, but to sites which will help campaigners mount their own investigations.
Check it out and please tell all your friends and contacts about it. For more details see the LOBBYWATCH section below.
Claire [email protected] www.ngin.org.uk / www.gmwatch.org / www.lobbywatch.org
The profile below of pro-GM lobbyist Muffy Koch gives a sense of the extraordinary conflicts of interest within the South African system. This is a country where a lobbyist and her private company appear to be getting paid to help guide GM crops through a regulatory system of which she herself is a part.
Koch's story also reveals how South Africa is being used as biotech's gateway to Africa. In particular, we are seeing a wholesale attempt to export South Africa's biosafety regime to the rest of the continent. Yet this is a system that has been described by environmental and development lawyers in South Africa as displaying a "cynical disregard" for contemporary international and national environmental principles, as well as for the development imperatives of South Africa.
As part of this process of "South Africanisation", Muffy Koch is being paid by international bodies to contribute to the development of "biosafety" systems in different parts of Africa, while at the same time playing a leading role in a controversial lobby group that's fighting tooth and nail for GM crops.
Muffy Koch's story is one of African sovereignty and biosafety under carefully crafted attack. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3633
For a GMWATCH profile of Muffy Koch: http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=271&page=K
For a GMWATCH profile of AfricaBio, of which Muffy Koch is a member: http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=170&page=A
+ US TO GIVE US$2.1 MILLION FOR NIGERIAN BIOTECH
A press article makes the US agenda clear (our emphasis): "The USAID assistance... coincided with the opening of discussions between Nigeria and South Africa on the formulation of a model biosafety law, which **other African countries can emulate**."
Note that the $2.1 million, as well as being used for GM crop research, is to "improve implementation of biosafety regulations, and enhance public knowledge and acceptance of biotechnology". http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3630 For a GMWATCH profile of USAID see http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=165&page=U
+ MUSEVENI FINALLY GIVES IN TO GM FOOD PRODUCTION
EXCERPT: Some critics wonder whether there are other issues at stake behind Uganda's newly found enthusiasm for GM crops. Some are questioning whether Ugandan support for GM is part of a range of measures agreed between Kampala and Washington following President Museveni's visit to the American capital earlier this year.
One of the issues likely to have been discussed