Bill Gates Trying To Hijack
Africa's Food Supply?
By Bruce Dixon
07 June, 2007
Black Agenda Report
altered crops will rescue Africa from endemic shortfalls in food production,
claim corporate foundations that have announced a $150 million "gift"
to spark a "Green Revolution" in agriculture on the continent.
Of course, U.S.-based agribusiness
holds the patents to these wondercrops, and can exercise their proprietary
"rights" at will. Are corporate foundations really out to
feed the hungry, or are they hypocritical Trojan Horses on a mission
to hijack the world's food supply --- to create the most complete and
ultimate state of dependency.
is the common public relations tactic of concealing bitterly unfair
and predatory trade policies that create and deepen hunger and poverty
with clouds of hypocritical noise about feeding the hungry and alleviating
poverty. It's hard to imagine a better case of media poor-washing than
the hype around the recently announced $150 million "gifts"
of the Gates and Rockerfeller Foundations to the cause of reforming
African agriculture, feeding that continent's impoverished millions
and sparking an African "Green Revolution."
For ADM, Cargill, Monsanto
and other agribusiness giants farming as humans have practiced it the
last ten thousand years is a big problem.
The problem is that when
farmers plant and harvest crops, setting a little aside for next year's
seed, people eat, but corporations don't get paid. That problem has
been so thoroughly solved in U.S. food production that chemical fertilizers
and pesticides create a biological dead zone of hundreds of square miles
in the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi, draining much of the continent's
richest farmland, empties into it. U.S. law requires the registration
all crop varieties, and makes it extraordinarily difficult for farmers
to save and plant their own seed year to year without paying royalties
to corporations who "own" the genetic code of those crops.
But until recently in the
developing world, farmers still planted, plowed and harvested without
paying American agribusiness anything. The first attempt to "monetize"
food production took place a generation ago in Southeast Asia and India.
Called the "Green Revolution" its public face was a masterpiece
of pious poor-washing.
A thin layer of native academic,
"experts" and local officials were bought off, and slick ad
campaigns were told local farmers the road to prosperity was the use
of vast quantities of pesticides, herbicides, and high-yield crops grown
for international markets instead of feeding local populations.
The "Green Revolution"
in India worked out well for the middlemen who sold the chemicals and
lent poor farmers money to buy them, and for its wealthiest farmers.
But when millions of farmers, on the advice foreign and domestic "experts"
produced cotton, sugar and export crops for the world market instead
of food to feed their neighbors, several nasty things happened. The
prices for those export staples went down, so poor farmers wound up
without the cash to repay loans for the year's seed and chemicals. Food
which used to be abundant and locally grown became scarce, expensive
and had to come from other regions or overseas. The chemicals killed
many beneficial plants and insects, and promoted the emergence of newer,
tougher pests and diseases.
Export crops needed more
water than traditional ones, so wealthy farmers monopolized what water
there was to feed their export crops. Man-made famines occurred. People
starved or became dependent on imported foreign grain. Millions of farmers
were forced to sell their land (or sometimes their children) to pay
off their debts, and move to the cities.
In the tradition of the European
explorers unleashed on the rest of humanity with letters from their
kings entitling them to claim and seize the lands, treasure and inhabitants
of all places not under the rule of white Christian princes, the U.S.
patent office began in the 1990s, granting American corporations exclusive
"patents" for varieties of rice produced in Asia for thousands
of years, for beans grown in Mexico centuries before Columbus, and for
all the products which were or might be made from trees, plants, roots
and molds growing in the rain forests of Africa and Asia.
Indian courts, under pressure
from their citizens, rebuffed for now American attempts to collect royalties
for the production of basmati rice, which farmers in India and Pakistan
have cultivated for centuries. But every developing country can't bring
to the table against the U.S. the power that India, with a fifth of
the world's population can.
In the U.S. media this privatization
of nature is called "the biotech industry". Most of humanity
outside the U.S. call it biopiracy.
In the last decade, corporate
"life scientists" in the biotech industry have invented, and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture has patented a perverse but profitable
technology which prevents a current year's crop from producing usable
seed for next year's planting. These "terminator seeds" will
force farmers to return to corporate seed suppliers every year.
For the last 20 years, the
U.S. has, with varying degrees of success, bullied, bribed and threatened
governments on six continents to enforce its skull-and-crossbones patent
laws through bilateral trade agreements --- think NAFTA and CAFTA ---
through World Bank and International Monetary Fund dictates, and the
World Trade Organization.
Today UN bodies and dozens
of individual countries are under pressure to allow the introduction
of genetically modified crops and terminator seed technologies into
their food chains. Despite their poverty and need for development aid,
African countries, informed by the world media (outside the U.S.) have
been forced by their own citizens, scientists and farmers to stoutly
resist Western efforts to undermine their food security. But the slick
and shiny PR campaign around the Gates and Rockerfeller initiatives,
supposedly addressed at alleviating world hunger seem to mark a new
stage in the continuing scramble for African resources.
Last year, the Gates Foundation
hired former Monsanto VP Robert Robert Horsch as senior robert_horschprogram
officer for Africa. Monsanto is the company that invented "biotechnology"
and the patenting of life forms by corporations. This is the context
for the "philanthropy" of the Gates and Rockerfeller Foundations,
and their expressed concern for foisting a "Green Revolution"
Will African farmers and
their governments be forced to pay American corporations to cultivate
the crops they have for centuries? Global capital and competition to
control the world's remaining energy have put Africa's oil resources
in the sights of America's strategic planners.
If the Gates and Rockerfeller
Foundations, along with Monsanto, Cargill, ADM and other agribusiness
and biotech and "life science" players have anything to say
about it, Africa's food supply is up for grabs too.
BRUCE DIXON is editor of
the Black Agenda Report.
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