Response to "What the Green movement got wrong” broadcast November 4th 2010, on Channel Four in the UK.
The letter is signed by over 50 individuals and organisations from the global South, including such well known environmental campaigners as Vandana Shiva and Nnimmo Bassey as well as grassroots activists from across the developing world.
Dear Dorothy Burn,
As representatives of southern organisations working across the world to improve food sovereignty in our countries, we write to express concern at the airing of “What the Green movement got wrong” on November 4th, on Channel Four. This programme promotes the role of genetically modified products in food security in the global South, but on this issue, there are only two Southern-based commentators, Florence Wambugu and Shanthu Shantharam, both of whose employment is funded by major GMO companies.
We are tired of the corporate campaigns which claim to speak for the global South and allege that western-based non-governmental organisations are imposing their beliefs about genetically modified food on our countries. They imply that because of opposition to GM, countries such as Zambia have suffered food shortages which have led to many deaths, and many more have not received access to technology that could ease their food shortages.
We’ve said this before and we will say it again: Where it has been adopted, GM hasn’t worked to deliver food security for poor or vulnerable communities in the Global South. There is no evidence that it will do so in the future – drought and salinity resistant GM crops do not exist – and are unlikely to appear any time soon. After 15 years of GM crop commercialisation, only two types of technology have been successfully commercialised: those resistant to a particular type of herbicide, and those resistant to one specific type of pest.
Neither of these technologies in any way address the causes of hunger. But the expensive and patented seeds have made seed saving illegal,taking away poor farmers’ most basic rights and resources. The changes in farming brought about by GM crops have led to spiraling debt, evictions and loss of land for poor farmers in the South.
GM technology has not been developed to aid poor farmers or to feed poor people but for products for the international trade in agricultural commodities – soya, oil seed rape, maize and cotton.
These products are overwhelmingly used as animal feed, for use in processed food, for the international trade in textiles – and most recently in the United States to grow maize for Government subsidised bio-fuels, not to feed poor people anywhere in the world.
It is GM that is the western imposed idea, not the resistance to it.
We call upon Channel Four to ensure that all programmes that claim to speak for the global south give our views fair representation and to ensure they do not facilitate corporate-led campaigns which are motivated by profit alone, and not for the good of real farmers, poor communities or the environment they depend on.
Anne Wanjiku Maina
Kiambi Daniel Karaigua
Alhassan Fatawu Alidu
Zachary M. Makanya
Gebremedhine Birega Dagaga
Josea S. Dossou-Bodjrenou
Oussou Lio Appolinaire
Bakari Sadiq Nyari
Ndagha Shirleybrown Oyiakah(Ms)
Alageh Romanus Che
Dr. Shahid Zia
Francis Kamau Njanga
Shree Ram Shrestha
Dr Olanrewaju Oginni
ANA – Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia (National Colation of Agroecology)