Skewed ethics of GM promoters and their UN supporters (16/1/2005)

The following article, "Skewed Ethics on Biotechnology", is the first of two by Paul Driessen, who is described here as a senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

The article is intended to promote CORE's upcoming biotechnology conference, to be held at the United Nations on Tuesday, January 17-18. The event is being billed as a "UN World Conference" and speakers include Norman Borlaug and a host of other GM supporters.

Driessen, who will moderate two panels at the "UN World Conference", is the author of the book "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death". "Eco-imperialism" lays at the door of the environmental movement, "the hunger and suffering of millions of the world's poor who are denied the benefits of genetically engineered food."

The book's reviews, include one from CS Prakash who enthuses, "Great book!" According to timber industry and biotech lobbyist, Patrick Moore, "This book is the first one I've seen that tells the truth and lays it on the line".

But both the book and the article below studiously ignore the fact that many development experts and NGOs have been just as sceptical about the value of GM crops for the world's poor as environmental organisations.

Many of the strongest objections have come, in fact, from experts and farmers in developing countries themselves. Tewolde Egziabher of the Environmental Protection Authority in Ethiopia is among those who argue that the future of agriculture in the developing world is actually being harmed by the hype over GM crops which is drawing precious resources away from other agricultural innovations and practices that have far more to offer resource-poor farmers.

The Director-General of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf, has pointed out that irrigation and road-building are far more urgent priorities in improving Africa's agriculture than encouraging the introduction of GM crops.

Yet the FAO Director General's representative at the UN, Florence Chenoweth, will be among those contributing to the CORE conference and lending it UN respectability.

Driuessen's article is full oof crude GM-hype which bears little examination. It even claims GM can replace Kenyan sweet potatoes despite the fact that it is now known that Monsanto's GM sweet potato in Kenya has been a complete failure.

An indication of what CORE and Driessen and their conference are really about, is the fact that Driessen's book is published by the Free Enterprise Press, the publishing arm of The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE). Driessen is a Senior Fellow at CDFE.


According to a review of Driessen's book on CDFE's website, the book helps the reader "to understand why the environmental movement is engaged in the most appalling example of genocide the world has ever known!"

In the late 1980s CDFE and its Executive Vice President, Ron Arnold, launched the anti-environmentalist Wise Use movement. Arnold has also been a consultant for Dow Chemical, as well as Head of the Washington State chapter of the American Freedom Coalition, the political arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (1989-91).

In 1991 Arnold told the New York Times, "We [CDFE] created a sector of public opinion that didn't used to exist. No one was aware that environmentalism was a problem until we came along." According to CDFE's President Alan Gottlieb, who made his name as a gun lobbyist and has done time in prison for tax-evasion, "For us the environmental movement has become the perfect bogeyman."

Ron Arnold, who was one of the first to brand environmentalist "eco-terrorists", has stated his aim is "to destroy the environmental movement". In an interview with CNN Arnold said part of his intent was to "kill the bastards". He added, "People in industry, I'm going to do my best for you. Environmentalists, I'm coming to get you." (Interview, CNN, May 30, 1993 )

The Wise Use movement has had links with right-wing militias. The scapegoating and demonising of environmentalists is said to have contributed in some cases to their becoming the targets of physical assaults, arson and even bomb attacks. (The Green Backlash, Andrew Rowell, 1996)

Driessen served as editor of another book published by CDFE's Free Enterprise Press, "Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns", by Nick Nichols, Chairman & CEO of PR firm Nichols Dezenhall.

In a leaked presentation that Nichols made to a pork-producers group on how businesses should deal with their critics, Nichols quotes Al Capone, "You can get more with a smile, a kind word and a gun than with a smile and a kind word", and George Carlin, "If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten!" Nicholls advised the pork producers that they needed to, "Fight like guerillas" and "Take no prisoners".

As well as his work at CDFE, Driessen is also a principal of Global-Comm Partners, a Northern Virginia public relations firm specializing in environmental issues.

For more on CDFE:
Skewed Ethics on Biotechnology (Part 1 of 2)
Anti-biotech campaigns perpetuate poverty, malnutrition and premature death

Author: Paul Driessen
Bio: Paul Driessen
Date: January 14, 2005

More on the tremendous promise of agricultural biotechnology – for people in healthy, well-fed Western nations, and especially for poor, hungry people in developing countries. It also offers a revealing look at the ways rabidly anti-biotech activists are delaying the introduction of these safe, delicious foods – and thereby perpetuating the poverty malnutrition, disease and premature death that continues to plague the Third World.

Tsunami survivors and millions of others could benefit from a marvel of modern science: golden rice. By adding two daffodil genes to common rice, researchers made it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to vitamin A.

This miracle rice could help reduce widespread Vitamin A deficiency that causes up to 500,000 children to go blind every year – and 2,000,000 a year to die from diseases they would likely survive if they weren’t so malnourished. Just a few ounces a day will do wonders.

Unfortunately, thanks to anti-biotechnology zealots, the rice is still not available. Even if it were, these unfortunate children would probably still go without. The activists would simply reprise their 2002 tactics, which convinced Zambia’s government to reject 26,000 tons of US corn that had been sent as food aid, because some of it was genetically modified (GM).

They spread rumors that it was poisonous, and might cause cancer, or even AIDS – even though it was the same corn Americans have been eating safely for years. So the government locked it in warehouses, while parents and children went hungry.

"We’d rather starve than eat something toxic," intoned President Levy Mwanawasa. Of course, amply provisioned by planeloads of European delicacies, His Corpulence was hardly starving. Finally, desperate people broke into the warehouses and took the corn.

Today, 14 million people still face starvation in southern Africa. Worldwide, 800 million are chronically undernourished. Nearly 30,000 (half of them children) die every day


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