Real News Network: Gene Giants: Climate Saviors or Profiteers?

May 29, 2008
1:00 PM

CONTACT: Real News Network
Felisa Ponce, 416-916-5202

Gene Giants: Climate Saviors or Profiteers?
Biotech companies seek hundreds of patents for genetically modified "climate-ready" seeds
May 29 - A recent report by an agricultural advocacy group says that some of the world's largest biotechnology companies such as Monsanto, BASF, and Syngenta are seeking hundreds of patents on seeds designed to withstand the environmental stresses of global warming. While industry representatives say that traditional farming practices won't withstand the impact of sea level and drought, the report is wary of past failures of genetically engineered seeds.

Hope Shand, the Research Director at ETC Group, believes "we're seeing a very opportunistic public relations campaign to convince farmers and to convince reluctant consumers that genetic engineering is going to be the essential strategy that we need to adapt to climate change." However, she says "it's important to remember that these companies are in the business of selling a product; they're not in the business of humanitarian aid."

While Monsanto asserts that genetic engineering is the only way that farmers can protect agricultural production from the adverse affects of global warming, Shand argues that "these patented technologies undermine the right of farmers to save and exchange seeds from their harvests," and adds that "this is precisely what farmers need to do in the midst of a global food crisis and with climate change looming."

Watch the full story here