Sunday, September 04, 2016

No quick GM fixes for hunger

“The problem of lack of food is not caused by low production, but by the way the world food system is designed,” says the Union of Latin American Scientists Committed to Society and Nature (UCCSN-AL)

They explain “The four GM crops that are marketed massively are mainly intended for the production of biofuels and animal feed for poultry, pork and beef cattle industries: activities that consume more than 65% of the GM corn and soybean produced in the few countries that grow them, a very inefficient system —from an energy point of view —of agricultural production. Around these crops there is an oligopoly of transnational corporations that control the production of seeds and grains; the storage, transportation and marketing of genetically modified commodities; and the mass production of animals, which are increasingly concentrated in fewer hands. In this regard, it is clear that this model does not contribute to the goal of feeding the world, but instead competes with and overpowers traditional food production…”

UCCSN-AL point out that “Golden rice was designed…as a generic drug for malnourished children in ‘poor countries’.“ The organization expresses concerns over the promotion of golden rice as a solution to hunger:
“The nutritional problems of a population are not related with the lack of a specific nutrient (in this case… pro-vitamin A), but with the general conditions of poverty and the loss of food sovereignty that has forced thousands of farmers communities to leave their lands or to be subordinated to agribusiness, whose only priority is to meet their voracious need to increase profits through monoculture, agroindustry and agro-export by occupying lands that used to be devoted to safe and nutritious food production. To believe that malnutrition problems will be overcome through bio-fortified genetically modified food is to ignore this reality.
In order to meet the golden rice demand, millions of hectares will need to be planted in tropical and subtropical areas, and will need to expand over territories that today are use to grow food sovereignty crops, which will face the typical problems associated with large-scale monoculture. In addition, hundreds of plant species rich in pro-vitamin A, known, gathered or cultivated for a long time by local communities in the entire world will be affected. Each community can and must choose, in a sovereign way, what to eat, according to their cultural preferences and traditions, and how to meet their nutritional needs.
Who will benefit from golden rice? As with other GM crops, golden rice will also be controlled by large agribusiness companies. The ‘nutritional scheme’ based in golden rice will involve the control of agribusiness over the whole value chain: from seed to distribution. Given the fact that it is a global trend to forbid farmers to save their seeds, even if golden rice will be patent-free, the seed will be corporately controlled. What would happen then with traditional rice producers and with the thousands of peasant traditional varieties of rice that they hold?
 Regarding trade, in many countries, rice producers do not have any influence in price fixation. Nationally, the price is set by local powerful groups that control both processing and distribution of rice. Internationally, the price is set at the Bangkok and Chicago Stock Exchange. The international trade of golden rice would be controlled by the same economic groups that control other GM commodities. Accordingly,  golden rice will not generate food sovereignty and, on the contrary, it will increase dependence for both producers and consumers."