By Dr. Hans Herren and Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
The Senate is considering a bill that would overhaul the way Americans deliver foreign aid. With more people going hungry than ever before, the bill’s attention to global hunger could not come at a better time. The Global Food Security Act [S. 384] would streamline the aid process and focus on long-term agricultural development. But something has gone awry inside the bill. A closer look reveals that its otherwise commendable focus may be seriously undermined by a new clause lobbied for by one of America’s largest seed and chemical companies.
This bill includes a mandate that we spend foreign aid dollars developing genetically modified (GM) crops. No other kind of agricultural technology is mentioned. Unsurprisingly, Monsanto has lobbied more frequently on this bill than any other entity.
The trouble with a mandate for GM crops is this: it won’t work. A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates that GM crops don’t increase crop yields. USAID has already spent millions of taxpayer dollars developing GM crops over the past two decades, without a single success story to show for it, and plenty of failures. A recent, highly touted partnership between USAID and Monsanto to develop a virus-resistant sweet potato in Kenya failed to deliver anything useful for farmers.
After 14 years and $6 million, local varieties vastly outperformed their genetically modified cousins in field trials. Another 10-year USAID project for GM eggplant in India recently met with such outcry — from scientists and Indian farmers alike — that the government put a moratorium on its release. Growing insect resistance to genetically modified cotton and corn shows that the technology is already failing farmers and will continue to fail over the long term. Sadly, today’s GM obsession shows every indication of duplicating the first ill-fated “Green Revolution” that trapped millions of farmers on a pesticide treadmill while devastating the functioning of the ecosystems on which we depend.
Read full post at The Hill