Frances Moore Lappe, Vandana Shiva Blast Award for GMO Scientists

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Common Dreams

Frances Moore Lappe, Vandana Shiva Blast Award for GMO Scientists

The real future is "GMO-free food, patent-free food, seed freedom, food freedom."

Frances Moore Lappé and Vandana Shiva, noted figures in the food sovereignty movement, added their voices to the chorus blasting the 2013 World Food Prize going to GMO scientists with the biotechnology giants Monsanto and Syngenta.

The GMO scientists' work contributes to hunger and ecological devastation while not advancing nutrition, said the two Right Livelihood Laureates, also Councillors on the World Future Council. The pair noted the irony of Monsanto being awarded at a time of rising worldwide opposition to the seed giant.

Lappé and Shiva's remarks echo those of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, which stated that the prize going to the biotech giants “sends precisely the wrong message about sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty.”

"Never mind that Monsanto is a sponsor of the prize (and that the list of other backers reads like a who’s who of big ag and big food), or that we never get to know the names of either the nominees or the nominators," New York Times' Mark Bittman noted.

Still, the GMO work by the winning scientists "betrays the mandate of the very World Food Prize," explains Lappé, "which is all about focus on the importance of nutritious food and food for all, whereas GMO seeds, their design and the way they are spread to the world has nothing to do with better nutrition."

"In fact, to take advantage of these seeds, small farmers who are among the hungriest people in the world, have to take out loans to buy the costly products that are required—the seeds, the fertilizers... and the pesticides that are required" for the GMO seeds.

"So in fact the honorees ... are actually contributing the problems that keep us locked... in hundreds of millions of people in a world where there is plenty of food," concluded Lappe.

The World Food Prize explained that the GMO work by the new winners has "contributed significantly to increasing the quantity and availability of food." 

Not so, says Shiva.

"The evidence is so clear," she says, that "GMOs have not increased production, there's a failure to yield."  In addition, "they have not reduced use of chemicals. Worse, they have increased the use of chemicals because they have created superpests and superweeds."

To reward this "failed technology... in 2013, at a time when the world is waking up to the scientific evidence that biodiverse systems, ecological systems produce more food. We could be having enough food for two to three times the world's population by conserving and intensifying our biodiversity, saving our water, rejuvenating our soils. That's agro-ecology The new science of agriculture, of working with nature, and not against her . It's also the science that small farmers practice to bring 80% of the food to the world. It's not the gene giants."

"In a way," she continues, "the award being given to Monsanto is attempt to try and divert the public's attention" away from rising global opposition.

The real future is "GMO-free food, patent-free food, seed freedom, food freedom."

Therefore, "the award for food security and food sovereignty belongs to the millions of women, the millions of small farmers, the millions of market gardeners" who bring true food security to the world, says Shiva.

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Video of Lappé and Shiva expressing their outrage at the biotech scientists' receipt of the prize was posted by the World Future Council:

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