Thursday, January 27, 2005

That fertile Rockefeller cash

In his essay on the Green Revolution (referenced here), Harry Cleaver identifies the Rockefeller Foundation as a key force in spreading industrial agriculture to the so-called Third World.

The text is worth quoting at length (and well worth reading in its entirety):

"The story of the Green Revolution began in 1943 when the Rockefeller Foundation sent a team of agricultural experts ... to Mexico to set up a research program on local grains. The Foundation’s interest in Mexico at the time was stimulated by at least two factors. First was the recent expropriation of the Rockefellers’ Standard Oil interests by Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas in 1939. Second was the wartime bid of the Nazis to expand their influence in the hemisphere. The friendly gesture of a development project would not only help soften rising nationalism but might also help hang onto wartime friends."

More than 60 years later, the foundation is evidently interested in cleaning up the Green Revolution's messes by bankrolling the Gene Revolution.

There's a Philippines-based NGO called the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology (KC), part of another entity known as the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (based in the US, with offices in Kenya and Manilla), which seems to exist to promote biotech crops in the southern hemisphere. Its Web site contains a report on PDF hailing the "near-record growth" of biotech crop acreage in 2004.

The report contains much interesting information re: GMO penetration of the southern hemisphere. To wit: "[A]pproximately 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries planted biotech crops in 2004 — 1.25 million more farmers than planted biotech crops in 18 countries in 2003. Notably, 90 percent of these farmers were in developing countries. In fact, for the first time, the absolute growth in biotech crop area was higher in developing countries (7.2 million hectares) than in industrial countries (6.1 million hectares)."

Interesting stuff; this is clearly a study worth reading, a Web site worth monitoring, and a group worth investigating. But what really caught BGJ's eye was that the Rockefeller Foundation, along with an Italian outfit called Fondazione Bussolera Branca, had funded the study.

This opens whole new veins of research for Bitter Greens Gazette: What other biotech projects are U.S. foundations underwriting? And what is this Fondazione Bussolera Branca?


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