World Bank promoting GM / Protest letter from Sierra Club (20/7/2006)

1.Protest letter to the World Bank

1. Protest letter to the World Bank

GM Watch friends,

You are welcome to post this:


Sierra Club sent the enclosed letter to the World Bank, protesting its actions and supporting groups from other countries in their efforts. (It will soon be on our webpage.) Laurel Hopwood, Chair, Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee

Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, President
The World Bank
U.S. Executive Director Jennifer Dorn
Canada Executive Director Marcel Masse
all Executive Directors of the World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433 USA
tel: (202) 473-1000
fax: (202) 477-6391

Dear Sirs:

The Sierra Club, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the US, together with the Sierra Club of/du Canada, is concerned about your involvement, together with the Global Environmental Facility, in biotech "harmonization" programs in Africa and Latin America. We believe these so called "capacity building" programs will be both bad for the environment and bad for economic development. We are asking you to reassess your involvement and, based on that reassessment, to remove your support from them.

The issues involved include how food is produced and how it is distributed, which are among the most important issues which have faced societies ever since the Agricultural Revolution some 100 centuries ago. The role of the World Bank in this is ostensibly to facilitate the spread of a new agricultural technology on the grounds that it could help farmers to grow more and to feed more people. We believe, however, that those most in need will be harmed by these projects, while those who have no need for assistance will be the only ones to profit.

Genetically engineered (GE) agriculture is an extension of industrialized agriculture which has been chiefly successful in allowing increased herbicide use (in the herbicide tolerant crops) or which incorporates pesticides within the crop. If anything is saved, it's human labor, which makes GE crops more suited to countries with higher labor costs and to export-oriented commodity farming. In countries which have a problem feeding their populations, import of cheap commodity products, often subsidized, impoverish local farmers and exacerbate problems. If crops for export are developed, this also implies an export of calories and makes problems worse.

In any case, nations have a right to food sovereignty and "helping" them to "achieve" regional biosafety procedures advances the agenda of international agricultural trade, which profits those who want to earn foreign exchange more than it does those who want to grow food for their families or to contribute to feeding their own village, province or nation. It is anti-democratic and preemptive in that it serves those who already own the new technology and want to profit from it, rather than moving appropriate resources and tools into the hands of the poor whom you should be helping.

More, it profits the patent-holders from countries which have developed GE technology - a case in which those who start the race first are allowed to start every subsequent race with a cumulative advantage. At the same time it penalizes farmers by taking away their centuries old right to save seed. This is a "taking" on a truly vast scale, perhaps the most significant agricultural taking since the Agricultural Revolution made human civilization possible.

The World Bank should not be involved in smoothing the way for a genetically engineered agriculture which benefits patent holders in rich nations at the expense of poor farmers and which attempts to calm or to bypass the genuine opposition of most people and most nations to this further industrialization of their diet.

Rather, the rights afforded to nations under the Biosafety Protocol should be respected, including importantly the Precautionary Principle and the right of nations to make individual Biosafety decisions on a case by case basis, respecting the rights of their own populations and in accordance with their own natural environmental conditions and concerns, and with ongoing public participation.

Again, please don't participate in these regional "biosafety" projects.

Sincerely yours,
Michele Perrault, International Vice President
The Sierra Club (US)
Steve Hazell, Executive Director
Sierra Club of/du Canada


This research appeared on the World Bank Data and Research website 18 July.

It uses economic modelling to promote Bt Cotton especially in sub-Saharan Africa:

Recent and prospective adoption of genetically modified cotton: a global computable general equilibrium analysis of economic impacts

Summary: The authors provide estimates of the economic impact of initial adoption of genetically modified (GM) cotton and of its potential impacts beyond the few countries where it is currently common. They use the latest version of the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) database and model. The results suggest that by following the lead of China and South Africa, adoption of GM cotton varieties by other developing countries-especially in Sub-Saharan Africa-could provide even larger proportionate gains to farmer and national welfare than in those first-adopting countries. Furthermore, the estimated gains are shown to exceed those from a successful campaign under the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda to reduce and remove cotton subsidies and import tariffs globally.

Full text:


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