There is less than a day to go before the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com hands hundreds of thousands of dollars to a controversial project for the widespread and unregulated distribution of over half a million extreme-bioengineered seeds. Kickstarter, which stands to make over $22,000 from the project (1), has steadfastly refused to comment on its listing of a project to make and distribute ‘glowing genetically modified plants’ using Synthetic Biology.
African Centre for Biosafety, ETC Group, FoodMattersZimbabwe and CTDT
Johannesburg, Harare, Mexico City 15 April 2013
GROWING POWER IN PEASANT SEEDS SYSTEMS: Farmers seeds and struggle against GMOs, AGRA- 2nd Green Revolution. Tunis, March 29.
It has become crucial to defend seeds. In the past 20 or 30 years, what was once seen as normal – peasant farmers growing, selecting, saving and exchanging seeds – has come under attack from corporations seeking to control and commodify the very basis of agriculture.
A report released today by ETC Group warns that 6 multinational Gene Giants control the current priorities and future direction of agriculture research worldwide. Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont control 59.8 % of commercial seeds and 76.1 % of agrochemicals. The same 6 companies account for at least 76 % of all private sector R&D in these two sectors.
Amid unprecedented corporate concentration, ETC Group’s report provides a critical look at new initiatives launched by the Gene Giants – including the false promise of cheap, post-patent GE seeds – aiming to appease antitrust regulators and pass off oligopolistic practices as acts of charity. Meanwhile, the world’s two richest men – Bill Gates and Mexico’s Carlos Slim – are teaming up with CIMMYT (the international public maize and wheat breeding center based in Mexico) to get bargain GE seeds and traits in the hands of farmers in the global South.
Mexico remains on high alert following the attempts of Monsanto and other agribusiness multinationals to win the government’s approval to plant 2.5 million hectares of transgenic maize in Mexico, the center of origin and diversity of maize. As ETC wrote last month, approval would allow the boldest coup of a global food crop in history and would threaten biodiversity, farmers’ rights and resilience in the face of climate change. While the outgoing government of Felipe Calderón did not approve the applications before leaving office on November 30th, its last-minute, surreptitious changes to regulatory procedures removed obstacles that could have hindered the new administration’s ability to grant the companies’ requests.
Inside and outside Mexico, voices have decried the attack aimed at the heart of Mexican cultures, food, health and nature. Since mid-November, there have been workshops and public meetings, as well as petitions and protests by farmers, artists, activists and scientists in social and print media and on the radio. La Via Campesina, Grain and ETC Group wrote an open letter to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) asking the multilateral agencies to intervene for the sake of global food security.
Agribusiness giants Monsanto, DuPont and Dow are plotting the boldest coup of a global food crop in history. If their requests to allow a massive commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) maize are approved in the next two weeks by the government of outgoing president Felipe Calderón, this parting gift to the gene giants will amount to a knife in the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize. The consequences will be grave – and global. With the approvals and December planting deadlines looming, social movements and civil society organizations have called for an end to all GM maize in Mexico. Mexico’s Union of Concerned Scientists (UCCS) has called on the Mexican government to stop the processing of any application for open-field release of GM maize in Mexico. ETC Group joins these calls, and appeals to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – intergovernmental bodies mandated to support food security and biodiversity – to take immediate action.
Please take a moment to sign a global petition against the commercialization of GMO maize in Mexico at:
The Contracting Parties to the London Convention and London Protocol, at their Joint Meeting in London this week (29 October to 2 November 2012), agreed on a statement of concern regarding the iron fertilization project in ocean waters west of Canada.
More information about the world’s largest geoengineering deployment to-date has come to light since news of the iron-dust dump made headlines on Monday. The so-called ‘Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation’ (HSRC) claims it dumped 100 tonnes of iron particles into the Haida Eddy of the north-east Pacific Ocean to produce an artificial plankton bloom, even though the practice is prohibited by globally agreed moratoria and Canadian law. The CEO of HSRC, John Disney, claims that several Canadian government agencies – including Environment Canada – were apprised of HSRC’s ocean fertilization plans before deployment. Canada’s Environment Minister says an investigation is underway and the dump would be illegal if it indeed happened.
It’s difficult to describe Rio+20 as anything other than a tragedy. Despite years of preparation and months of negotiations, nothing said or done in Rio can cover up not just the 20 lost years since the original 1992 Earth Summit – as seasoned delegates have quietly noted – but also the half-century of intergovernmental failures since Rachel Carson catalyzed the sequence of global environmental congresses following the publication of her book, Silent Spring, in 1962.
A new 30-page report that documents the growing influence of agribusiness on the multilateral food system and the lack of transparency in research funding has been released today by the international civil society organization ETC Group. The Greed Revolution: Mega Foundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods, presents three case studies – one involving the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and two involving CGIAR Centers (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) -- which point to a dangerous trend that will worsen rather than solve the problem of global hunger. The report details, amongst others, the involvement of Nestlé, Heineken, Monsanto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Syngenta Foundation.