From the Center for Food Safety:
An effort to fight global poverty and hunger may become a Trojan horse to force genetically engineered crops on countries and farmers that do not want them. In the Senate, Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Global Food Security Act, which increases funding for agricultural research in the developing world, and a companion bill in the House of Representatives is expected to be introduced soon. While the bill recognizes the desperate need to increase funding for agricultural development and food security, it also requires that foreign agricultural development aid include investment in genetically engineered (GE) crops.
Most developing countries, especially in Africa, do not allow genetically engineered crops to be commercially grown, but that’s changing with international pressure. Biotech companies have mounted a misinformation campaign to sell themselves and their products as “humanitarian.” But, genetically engineered crops are not a solution to world hunger. To date, not a single GE crop released for commercial growing has increased yield potential or elevated nutritional levels. In reality, fully 85% of all GE crops globally are engineered to survive spraying with chemical weedkillers. These chemical-dependent GE crops have sharply increased overall use of pesticides and are best-suited to large growers seeking to reduce labor needs for weed control, not poor farmers anxious to produce more to feed their families.
A recent report by the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth found that agricultural biotechnology feeds the profits of biotech companies – not the poor. The report’s findings support the United Nations’ assessment of world agriculture released in a report in 2008, which concluded that GE crops have little potential to alleviate poverty and hunger in the world, and instead recommended low-cost, low-input agroecological farming methods.
The solutions for food security through agricultural development lie in promoting agroecological practices that not only increase agricultural productivity, but are affordable and accessible to small-scale developing world farmers. As Ben Burkett, an African American farmer from Mississippi and President of the National Family Farm Coalition who has visited Africa many times, said in a recent article, “More expensive genetically modified seeds, pesticides and chemical-intensive practices won’t help the hungry and will only allow more profits and control for seed companies like Monsanto and Syngenta.”
Food aid and development assistance should never be pre-conditioned on accepting unwanted and ineffective genetically engineered crops. Tell Congress to keep genetic engineering out of any food aid and agricultural research legislation.