GM Free Cymru

Gates Foundation awards Funds for pro-GM political lobbying and removal of regulatory obstacles

OPEN LETTER from GM Free Cymru

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
PO Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 709-3100

10th January 2009

Dear Friends,

Gates Foundation awards Funds for pro-GM political lobbying and removal of regulatory obstacles

We have been alerted by an article in "Truth about Trade and Technology" (a pro-GM trade newsletter) that you have awarded a substantial grant ($5.4 million) for what will effectively be pro-GM political lobbying, designed to break down regulatory obstacles to GM planting programmes in Africa and elsewhere in the world (1). This is not the impression one gets from the very bland press release from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, but TTT is in no doubt at all, having talked to the grant recipients, as to the purpose of the award.

Quote: "The funding will help the center secure the approval of African governments to allow field testing of genetically modified banana, rice, sorghum and cassava plants that have been fortified with vitamins, minerals and proteins............."

The only mention in the Donald Danforth Center press release (2) is to the formulation of "a regulatory strategy" and otherwise the statement is full of obfuscation, dissembling and carefully manipulated spin. For example, there is not a single mention of GMOs or genetic engineering, and the term "appropriate technologies" is used instead. That is thoroughly dishonest. The use of the name "BioSafety Resource Network" (BRN) is yet another example of a name designed to encourage confidence and complacency and to mask activities which involve disruptions of plant genomes with unpredictable consequences and potentially damaging health effects. There appears to be virtually no science involved in this project, with the funding devoted almost exclusively towards lobbying, diplomacy and attempts to loosen up regulatory frameworks. This activity is essentially political, and designed to drive forward GM technology in countries which are currently rightly sceptical about it. This is NOT the type of activity which should be funded by a charitable foundation, especially since the recipient organization has very close links with Monsanto, widely seen as one of the most corrupt and evil organizations in the corporate world.

Is the Gates Foundation totally unaware of the dangers associated with GM "biofortification" techniques and of the failure of Golden Rice? Is it unaware of the science which shows clear evidence of health and environmental harm associated with GM foods and crops? Is it unaware of the socio-economic impacts of GM crop plantings on a substantial scale, with industrial monocultures replacing balanced local farming economies, and with corporate feudalism leading to mounting farm debts, bankruptcies and suicides among farmers? These "wonder" GM crops fortified with minerals, proteins and vitamins absorb huge amounts of research effort and millions of dollars of funding, while others look on with amazement at the obsession with a bright and shiny technical fix for an invented grubby little problem.

The GM industry, and its "charitable arms", have thee simple objectives -- namely to "lower the standards for the risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) seeds worldwide, to put moral pressure on the critics of GM seed, and break consumer rejection." The ultimate aim is commercial and political, involving nothing less than the corporate control of the global food system -- and it is a sad thing indeed that the Gates Foundation should be closely involved in promoting this despicable agenda.

I will appreciate your comments on the foregoing analysis,

Yours sincerely,

Dr Brian John GM Free Cymru


(1) It was confirmed by Dr Adrian Dubock (Syngenta; member of the Humanitarian Board for the Golden Rice Project; Golden Rice Project manager) at a Tufts University / Friedman School Symposium on Sept 25th 2008 (chaired by Prof Rob Russell) that there would be focus groups in developing countries, attempts to work with state-run and independent feeding programmes, and other forms of pressure exerted to get Golden Rice into the food supply as rapidly as possible and to impress upon developing nations what an "obstacle" their regulatory regimes are.

(2) DANFORTH PLANT SCIENCE CENTER RECEIVES $5.4 MILLION GRANT FROM THE GATES FOUNDATION Jan. 7, 2009 Source: Donald Danford Plant Science Center news release