Why do you bring your mistakes here?
Kofi Annan has joined with President Obama, Monsanto, AGRA, and the Gates foundation to promote and execute food aid that replaces bags of wheat, rice and corn (agricultural dumping) with bags of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds. The end result will be to starve people in Africa and feed corporations in the US and Europe.
Kofi Annan and farmers
Under the guise of “sustainability” the [Gates] Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive Green Revolution project. Up to now AGRA spokespeople have been slippery, and frankly, contradictory about their stance on GMOs.
If you had any doubts about where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is really placing its bets, AGRA Watch’s recent announcement of the Foundation’s investment of $23.1 million in 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock should put them to rest. Genetic engineering: full speed ahead. (Eric Holt-Gimenez)
If you have questions about Monsanto’s agenda, here it is in brief:
At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct. (Jeffrey M. Smith)
Kofi Annan is Chairman of the Board of Directors for AGRA. He is convening a conference in Ghana in the first week of September. As detailed in this blog, and by others, both AGRA and USAID top positions are filled with people that come from Monsanto and Dupont.
Kofi Annan Calls For United Effort To Accelerate African Green Revolution
African heads of state, industry representatives, the international donor community and farmers will meet in Ghana at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in the first week of September. Delegates will create an action plan on the acceleration of a Green Revolution in Africa.
Samuel Amoako has reported on this as well: Kofi Annan Hosts Forum On Africa’s Food Security in the Ghanaian Times on August 11.
It is worrisome that Kofi Annan is connected with AGRA. Maybe he believes that US mechanized and chemical agriculture work well. Most people in the US do, aside from family farmers who see the effects first hand. I have a good friend who works for the US Dept. of Agriculture and thinks this kind of big agriculture really is the best and that Monsanto is a boon to mankind. We have had several heated discussions. In fact Monsanto is destroying land, causing chemically induced human diseases, creating super weeds, super insect pests, and economic havoc in many parts of the US farming areas, particularly in the midwest and the south. There have been countless protests all over India and Brazil. I’ve read many heartbreaking stories, including this comment from Pearl on this blog:
The farmers of southern Kentucky have been enslaved by Monsanto. The previous generation fell for an ad campaign called “Hi-bred” or “High-Bred”, and the current generation is stuck with fulfilling the contracts their fathers signed. The chemicals that Monsanto has contractually required be applied to those fields have so damaged the soil that the only way to get anything to grow in the fields now is to keep applying more of those blasted chemicals. So even if a person who inherited a contract WANTS to discontinue the agreement with Monsanto when the contract expires, they are unable to do so unless they want to leave the land fallow for many, many, many years. Most farmers cannot afford to do this, as this would mean little to no income for their families for somewhere between 5 to 20 years, depending on how long it would take for the soil to renew itself.
I’ve always had enormous respect for Kofi Annan, I do not understand his participation in this and it bothers me a great deal. Even though I admire and respect him there are no free passes with a subject like this.
Genetically modified crops produce less, not more, than conventional crops.
Alexis Baden-Mayer points out in Dupont, Monsanto, and Obama Versus the World’s Family Farmers that AGRA is basing its programs on myth:
Most of the world’s food is not produced on industrial mega-farms. 1.5 billion family farmers produce 75 percent of the world’s food.
The hunger problem is not caused by low yields. The world has 6 billion people and produces enough food for 9 billion people.
And as I’ve discussed before, the smaller the farm the greater the yield.
There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.
In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere. (Monbiot)
The key to true food security is food sovereignty, and the key to food sovereignty lies in who controls the land. The problems of both starvation and obesity stem from injustice in the way farmland and food are distributed. AGRA policies will poison the land and water, destroy local seeds and seed gene pools that provide the true hope for food sustainability. Local agriculture in most parts of the world has developed seeds that are tough and resistant to local pests, weeds, and local environmental dangers such as droughts or floods. AGRA wishes to replace these seeds with ones that need expensive, continuous, and ever expanding chemical coddling. These chemicals will poison the land, the water, and the people.
Additionally the Gates Foundation, Monsanto, and other corporate interests are investing in a doomsday seed bank, in which they will own the world’s agricultural gene pool. They are storing seeds from all over the world. In the event of genetic disaster, they will own the surviving gene pool.
Jonathan Weiner, in The Beak of the Finch describes how chemicals drive the destruction of land and the creation of super weeds and super insect pests:
Some of the greatest opposition to evolution comes from the farmers of the Cotton Belt, and that is where Taylor is seeing one of the most dramatic cases of evolution in action on this planet.
… in the year 1940, cotton farmers began spraying their fields with the chemical compound dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. These first insecticidal sprays killed so many insects, and killed so many of the birds that ate the insects, that in biological terms the cotton fields were left standing virtually vacant, like an archipelago of newborn islands – and out of the woods and hedgerows fluttered [the cotton destroying moth] Heliothis virescens.
In the next few optimistic years, pesticide manufacturers assaulted Heliothis with bigger and bigger doses of DDT. They also brought out more poisons from the same chemical family: aldrin, chlordane. The aim was nothing less than the control of nature, and pesticide manufacturers believed that control was within their grasp. The annual introduction of new pesticides rose from the very first product, DDT, in 1940, to great waves of chemical invention in the 1960s and 1970s. In those decades, dozens of new herbicides and insecticides were brought to market each year. Heliothis became on of the most heavily sprayed species in what amounted to a biological world war. Through it all, the moths clung to the cotton.
… The moths have become almost absolutely resistant to all pesticides, from your cyclodienes to your organophosphates to your carbamates, and most of your pyrethroids. …
“Its an extraordinarily potent example of evolution going on under our eyes,” Taylor says. “Visible evolution.”
A pesticide applies selection pressure as surely as a drought or a flood. The poison selects against traits that make a species vulnerable to it, because the individuals that are most vulnerable are the ones that die first. The poison selects for any trait that makes the species less vulnerable, because the least vulnerable are the ones that survive longest and leave the most offspring. In this way the invention of pesticides in the twentieth century has driven waves of evolution in insects all over the planet. Heliothis is only one case in hundreds. (from pp 251-255)
In short, pesticides and herbicides destroy most of the insects, plants, and often other animals in those fields where they are used. But nature fights back. Those insects and weeds that can resist the chemicals initially, breed and grow stronger. They have no competition except from the chemicals, and they quickly evolve immunity, even as the chemicals become stronger and more toxic. Stronger and more toxic chemicals are needed to fight the new insects and weeds, and the destructive cycle continues. The chemicals wind up in the food, and run off into the land and the water, creating an ever increasingly toxic environment for humans and many other plants and animals.
For the growth of super weeds world wide, see the following charts:
The vertical axis shows the number of species of weeds that have become chemical resistant, the horizontal axis shows the years. You can see the exponential increase starting about 1970 when Monsanto introduced Roundup, and continuing into 2010. (click to enlarge)
You can see the distribution, North America, Western Europe, and Australia have already been severely impacted. Africa is a huge new market that has not yet been ruined. You can see why it is so desirable, it is a huge wide open opportunity to Monsanto and other greedy chemical corporations. Most countries in Africa have not yet been touched or biologically recolonized by GMOs and agricultural chemicals. South Africa, which has allowed GMOs, is the most severely impacted to date. (click to enlarge)
Genetically modified seeds, GMOs, are designed to be used as part of a program involving chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Their effect on farmers is usually to lock them into a cycle of debt, as described by Pearl above, and as experienced and protested in many countries including India and Brazil, as mentioned above. Terminator seeds, also known as suicide seeds or homicide seeds, will not regenerate, so instead of saving seeds, farmers have to buy new seeds each year, as well as investing in more, and more toxic chemicals each year that are necessary to make the GMO seeds grow. This cycle has created death and destruction in many places, including hundreds of farmer suicides in India.
I’ve heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is certainly the case for the insects and weeds targeted by chemical pesticides and herbicides. Those that don’t die become very much stronger. We have already have super bugs and super weeds, thanks to the efforts of companies such as Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta. Evolution can move very fast, not just fast enough to observe, but fast enough to leave us humans struggling in its wake. Monsanto and the other agricultural chemical companies market each new product as though it is the end of some pest, that evolution stops at this point, and we can just relax. In fact each new chemical is the creator and the beginning of many more powerful threats. And the more powerful the chemical tools we use against these threats, the more those chemicals poison us and strengthen the insects and weeds we are fighting.
Although they have stopped talking much overtly about this, AGRA and the Gates Foundation speak about “land mobility” which means moving farmers off their farms so the land can be used for large scale mechanized agriculture. But there is no mention of where these people will go and live, and how they will be reemployed. What this means is thousands of displaced people moving to slums around the cities, which will grow and will be filled with unemployed people. This is politically and socially destabilizing. It breeds crime and political violence. This kind of policy also hits women particularly hard, because in western models such as corporate agriculture, their traditional rights to land are ignored. Women are the majority of agricultural workers, and will become even more impoverished and disenfranchised, not that it will bother AGRA or Gates or Monsanto, as they say:
Over time, this will require some degree of land mobility and a lower percentage of total employment involved in direct agricultural production.
Family farmers, who produce 75% of the worlds food, will gradually be displaced, driven off their land, and the land will be poisoned and ruined. There will be less food, less healthy food. More people will starve, while more corporations will get fat.
As Joan Baxter writes:
Back in the early 1990s when I was reporting from northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided I would benefit from a bit of enlightenment. In a rather long lecture, she detailed for me the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one that outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and their lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable sheanut trees – had ruined the diverse and productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, ‘Why do you bring your mistakes here?’
For more African farmers perspectives on this subject, see:
Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against A New Green Revolution In Africa PDF
The first part of this article was published, text only, on GhanaWeb on September 13, 2010. You can read it here. However, the comments are not archived.
Added Oct. 12, 2014
You can follow the fight against GMOs and corporate rule in Ghana at Food Sovereignty Ghana.
And follow discussions on the FSG Facebook page.
The US goal with the annual Africa Endeavor is to become thoroughly embedded into African communication systems, making monitoring, spying or information/disinformation campaigns far easier for the US.
Africa Endeavor has been underway in Ghana this week and is just concluding.
ACCRA, Ghana - Ghanaian Brigadier General Joseph Searyho, Defence Communications Information Systems director general (5th from right) and Army Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) C4 Systems director (Ferrell's left), pose for a photo with delegation chiefs from 28 African nations and Sweden during the Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 Mid-Planning Conferences in Accra, Ghana on March 31, 2010. AE is U.S. Africa Command's annual communications exercise that focuses on interoperability and information sharing among African nations. AE 2010 is scheduled to take place in Ghana, August 9-19, 2010. Past AE exercises were held in South Africa (2006), Nigeria (2008) and Gabon (2009). (Photo by Lieutenant James Stockman, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs)
Thirty-six African countries, the AU, the Economic Community of Western African States, the Economic Community of Central African States, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States are participants in AE 2010
ACCRA, Ghana - Ghana Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General J.H. Smith (front, right) is escorted by Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 exercise director, U.S. Navy Commander Britt Talbert (front, left), U.S. Africa Command communications director, U.S. Army Brigadier General Robert Ferrell (middle, right), and U.S. Embassy Ghana Charge d’ Affaires, Julie Furuta-Toy (middle, left) as he reviews the AE 2010 exercise participants during a ceremony at the Ghana Command and Staff College in Accra August 9, 2010. AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the U.S., African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)
ACCRA, Ghana - Benin Army Lieutenant Firman Donadji (left), Gambia Army Lieutenant Bakary Sennah (center), and Benin Army Captain Farell Folly (right) prepare a Powerpoint presentation to instruct troops about Information Assurance (IA) during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 12, 2010. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)
On 8/13/2010 11:20:47 AM Captain Farell Folly of Benin wrote:
For me this is an amazing learning experience. I know the Information Assurance program that is being taught during this exercise. My job here is to teach other people. It is both an experience and a teaching environment. We can meet people from everywhere and get to share knowledge. Having help from other countries has helped us achieve our goal.
While at Africa Endeavor, I am responsible for people from many different nations. I have to plan how to get them working as a group. I have learned new leadership skills that I will take back with me to my country.
On 8/16/2010 3:00:09 PM Zambia Major Benedicto Kepiza wrote:
My impression of Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 is that it opens one’s eyes to modern trends in communications. It’s a wonderful experience that gets people to interact and share so much information. AE is important to me personally, because I have learned so much, especially from the resource personnel selected to conduct the lessons on various topics. They brought out certain aspects that helped me to understand the materials they presented even deeper. As Zambia we stand to benefit from AE in that the demonstrations about the new technology in communication equipment makes us aspire to acquire such equipment that can be useful to our country.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea for the US to invest the same or greater resources into building capacity in the civilian sector, training civilians for technology and leadership skills. Who is going to lead and govern countries in Africa?
I have heard and read a number of comments from participants in these Africa Command training programs very similar to what Captain Folly and Major Kepiza have to say. Ghanaians, and participants from a variety of countries have expressed similar enthusiasm. I am delighted they are able to participate and that the US training has been of so much value. My question is, how will these individuals apply these skills when they are dissatisfied with their governments? How will they apply their leadership and technological skills and networks?
All of us, in all the countries of the world, are dissatisfied with our governments at least some of the time. How will the governments where these trainees live cope with the challenges they face. Where will the civilian sector get the technological and leadership training? How will these governments cope with challenges arising from the expectations of their own military organizations? And what will the US government do when faced with coup governments created by their trainees and proteges? I think we can look at the recent elections in Kenya and Rwanda for clues.
ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Army Staff Sergeant Mohammed Babangida works with U.S. Marine Corp Lance Corporal Scott Marchewka to erect a broadband antennae at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 11, 2010. This antennae will be used to communicate with North African countries during Africa Endeavor (AE). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)
ACCRA, Ghana - Warrant Officer Julius Dzededzi, a Ghanaian Army medic, listens to the heartbeat of Ghana Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Agbeshie Agbemy during a routine check-up at Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 12, 2010. Dzededzi and Agbemy are supporting AE 2010 by providing medical care for all African countries participating in the exercise. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)
ACCRA, Ghana - U.S. Marine Corp Lance Corporal Scott Marchewka assists Lesotho Army Warrant Officer Knoabane Thamoe with the set-up of a Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) antennae used to practice radio exercises August 12, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)
ACCRA, Ghana - Benin Army Captain Farell Folly discusses information assurance (IA) tactics with U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jason Elie during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 10, 2010. Farell and Elie are part of the IA Working Group, which provides security for information used and shared as well as making sure there are no viruses in the network. The IA Working Group is composed of service members from Switzerland, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Sweden, and the United States. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)
ACCRA, Ghana - U.S. Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command's communications director, watches as Republic of Congo Colonel Leon Ndingo is instructed by John M. Atkinson, Land Mobile Programs director for Inmarsat, on how to conduct a satellite call during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 on August 10, 2010, at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. The Republic of Congo is one of seven countries participating in AE 2010 for the first time. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Raasch)
AE 2010’s goal is to develop command, control and communications tactics, techniques and procedures that can be used by the African Union (AU) and the African Standby Force in support of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peace support missions.
AE 2010 participants will spend the initial days of this two-week exercise learning academics regarding voice and data networks theory and configuration. The last several days of AE 2010 will be spent applying that knowledge during exercise scenarios.
This year’s exercise will be the first time a communications link between the exercise location and the AU is established. Situation reports and messages pertaining to the scenario and exercise will be passed from Accra, Ghana to the AU Peace Support Operations Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“One of the Africa Union’s main objectives is to promote peace, security and stability on the continent. We need a united front to ensure this objective,” stated Ghana Minister of Defense Lieutenant General J.H. Smith. “Communications and information systems interoperability provide means for sharing of information across borders, which is very vital to the sustenance of the Africa Union and the African Standby Force.” (**)
If the only leadership you invest in is military leadership, if that is where you put all your money and effort, if that is what you train for, who do you expect will govern in the future? Whatever the case, the US military will be well and truly embedded in African communication systems.
ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Army Staff Sergeant Mohammed Babangida, with the assistance of U.S Marine Sergeants Ryan Kish and Brandon Sanders, establishes communications with U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk utilizing a Harris high-frequency radio during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 in Accra on August 16, 2010. This marks the first time a radio call was attempted from the AE exercise site to an at sea vessel. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)
ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Staff Sergeant Mohammed Batangida, Nigerian Commander Eo Idor, Algerian Captain Kamel Rihani and Harris Corporation Applications Engineer Ian Dunsford work on the power supply for a high-frequency radio system during Africa Endeavor (AE) on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)
ACCRA, Ghana - Djiboutian Lieutenant Siad Houssein (left), Republic of Congo 2nd Lieutenant Dodolphe Maxine Anicet Ockandji (center), and Cameroon Warrant Officer Ahmedon Souley (right) share personal stories while waiting for an Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 data collecting class on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)
ACCRA, Ghana - The Gambia Army Warrant Officer Momodue Fofana examines the communications equipment demonstrated by U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant Ryan Kish during an Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 field expedient class on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College. The class focused on methods of improvising antennas in the event of loss or damage. AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the United States, African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)
In a State Department briefing Johnnie Carson let us know the real reason for US involvement in Somalia, and the reason for sponsoring African proxies through AMISOM.
Somalia has dominated the 15th African Union summit in Uganda (AFP) July 2010
Not until the very end does Carson give an inkling of what the real U.S. fear is wrt Somalia, which is why the ICU’s revolution was crushed so violently.
It is important that the TFG be strengthened, for if it is not, Shabaab will continue to emerge as a significant political threat not only in the south, but also throughout the region.
They’re not really worried about ‘violent extremists’– after all, what’s more extreme than intentionally dropping bombs from remote control onto human beings as a matter of policy — they’re worried about popular control of political & economic power & authority, as are the regional dictators who understand the role model this would function as. (africa comments)
In other words, they are worried about the possible emergence of democracy, which is much more difficult for external actors to control, and a serious threat to dictators everywhere.
The dictators and their US and EU sponsors do not want a political solution, do not want Somalis to be allowed to stabilize their own country. That is why the continued involvement and the continued destabilizing use of proxy force in Somalia.
In Uganda Carson changes position on Ugandan democracy:
New Vision: Museveni has not become a dictator — Carson
THE US assistant secretary of state for Africa, Johnny Carson, has said President Yoweri Museveni has not turned into a dictator as he had predicted five years ago.
In an article published in The Boston Globe in May 2005, Carson said “Africa’s success story” (Uganda) could return to the dictatorial past if Museveni continued his controversial push for the removal of presidential term limits from the Constitution.
Asked yesterday whether he still held the same view five years later, Carson said: “I don’t believe [there’s that phrase again – AC] President Museveni is a dictator. He is a president duly elected in a free and fair election.” (h/t africa comments)
Karoli Ssemogerere tells us: Johnnie Carson has delivered early warning to the Opposition:
After the World Cup attacks, of course all sorts of help have been here. Washington sent Attorney General Eric Holder, their top law enforcement official, to Kampala. Carson has become a regular face in Kampala and this visit is as remarkable since on his last visit, he faced open rebuke from President Museveni and his Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa for publicly supporting the replacement of the Electoral Commission.
A few weeks later, Carson rewrote the institutional memory …
One of the shortcomings of American foreign policy is its obsession with the status quo, predictability and who is on our side versus who is on their side mentality? Museveni, exhausted after two decades in power, seems to offer the reassurance that Uganda on its own can serve as a bulwark for American interests in the region and now backed by its newfound oil wealth, need not continue on a sustained path to greater democratisation and respect for human rights.
The Americans could not sustain the democratisation rhetoric in the face of oil and the “terrorist threat.” Neither can their public officials in the face of a well oiled lobbying machine that recruits former government officials at will.
Carson is saying in a few words, we understand the complexities of the system. We prefer to deal with the defined quantity Museveni, a product of years of experience, be nice to the opposition through cups of tea and other empty platitudes.
Democracy does not matter, human rights do not matter, American interests, mostly oil, are what matters. Of course in the long run, the big picture, genuine support for democracy and human rights would be far better protection for American interests. But nobody is thinking that way.
AFRICOM’s General Ward recently addressed the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). As b real describes in the comments on the previous post, Gen. Ward manages:
to make clear two main items –
economic development tops the list of opportunities for the u.s. in africa
sustained security engagement is required to create & exploit those opportunities
Sustained security engagement is the polite way of saying ever increasing militarization. Militarization is US policy in Africa.