With the Bush Administration, it is more than appropriate to look a gift horse in the mouth
Like most things with the Bush administration, nothing comes without its dismal grey lining. In response to the global food crisis, caused in part by the Bush administration’s relentless insistence on corn based biofuels, this lame duck administration has proposed a $770-million food aid package. Generous, right?
Except that according to the LA Times, the package promotes the use of genetically modified crops, a big parting kiss to the agribusiness industry which gave nearly $5 million dollars to Bush in 2004. The $150 million of the package set aside for “development farming” (aka GMOs), demonstrates once again that this is the no corporation left behind administration. If nothing else, they do take care of their own and Monsanto is definitely their own considering that at one point the secretaries of defense, health and agriculture, the attorney general and the Republican chairman of the House agriculture committee all had links to the firm.
The administration is pushing the “higher crop yield” misinformation campaign as their reasoning for including GMOs in the food aid package. As, F. William Engdahl sites in his book “Seeds of Destruction”, this is simply not true. This was demonstrated recently by the results of a three year University of Kansas study, which confirmed an earlier University of Nebraska study, showing that GM soy produces about 10% less than conventional soy.
The Nebraska study suggested that two factors are at work. First, it takes time to modify a plant and, while this is being done, better conventional ones are being developed. This is acknowledged even by the fervently pro-GM US Department of Agriculture, which has admitted that the time lag could lead to a "decrease" in yields. But the fact that GM crops did worse than their near-identical non-GM counterparts suggest that a second factor is also at work, and that the very process of modification depresses productivity. The new Kansas study both confirms this and suggests how it is happening. -- Independent
GMOs also require expensive fertilizers, herbicide and scarce water resources which farmers in the developing world can scarcely afford. In India, the suicides of a huge number of farmers (150,000 between 1993 and 2006) who couldn’t pay spiraling debts after being duped into growing Monsanto’s Bt cotton, which they weren’t told would require expensive pesticides and fertilizers, contributed to the rejection of GM crops in India and Africa. Zambia went as far as to refuse US aid altogether during a severe drought in 2002 because of their opposition to GMOs. Still, many countries that don’t want GMOs in their food supply are forced to import them from the US as other exports dry up.
Most insidious, the Bush administration is taking advantage of a dire food situation to push through GMOs despite European Union refusal to import GM crops. This has kept African and other developing nations from accepting such aid in the past as the European market is too important. But as populations face starvation and more countries worry more about domestic food supply than export crops, the administration and their agribusiness buddies see an opportunity to force their agenda. Congress will be painted as heartless if they don’t approve the package. Besides, Republicans hardly have a lock on Monsanto campaign contributions. The only hope may be an aid package from the EU that looks to actually feed people and not just exploit their misery.