New Report From the Oakland Institute Issues a Challenge to Western-led Plans for a Genetically Engineered Revolution in Africa

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Anuradha Mittal, (510) 469-5228; amittal@oaklandinstitute.org

New Report From the Oakland Institute Issues a Challenge to Western-led Plans for a Genetically Engineered Revolution in Africa

African Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa

WASHINGTON - A new report from the Oakland Institute, Voices from Africa: African
Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green
Revolution in Africa, issues a direct challenge to Western-led plans
for a genetically engineered revolution in African agriculture,
particularly the recent misguided philanthropic efforts of the Gates
Foundation's Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and
presents African resistance and solutions rooted in first-hand
knowledge of what Africans need.

The report finds a lack of accountability, transparency, and
stakeholder involvement in philanthropic efforts such as AGRA. "Despite
the Gates Foundation's rhetoric of inclusion and the claim that their
investment in agricultural development benefits the growing majority of
the world's poor who rely on agriculture, a leaked Gates Foundation
confidential report on their Agricultural Development Strategy for
2008-2011 actually emphasizes moving people out of the agricultural
sector," said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland
Institute and the editor of the report. "Their intention is to reduce
dependency on agriculture, but their strategy report does not specify
where or how this new 'land mobile' population is to be reemployed,"
she continued.

AGRA claims to be an "African-led Green Revolution," and
features Kofi Annan at the helm as its chairman; however, African civil
society has rejected the idea that one man can speak on behalf of over
50 countries and 680 million people. It is also not apparent from the
foundation's Agricultural Development Strategy report whether--or
how--the Gates Foundation consulted with African farmers before
launching their multi-million dollar development strategy for the
continent. Some of the foundation's external advisors have long
partnered with biotech companies: for example, Ruth Oniang'o is
featured on Monsanto's website claiming that there is an urgent need
for food biotechnology in Africa, and Gates Foundation potential
grantee Calestous Juma has urged the G8 to put biotechnology on the
agenda for for Africa and discard the application of the precautionary
principle because it interferes with the development of new
technologies.

"Africa does not need dumping of food aid by rich countries
that destroys local efforts to produce. Not the imposition of
industrial-style agriculture based on chemicals and 'high-yielding'
seeds, with the paradoxical outcome of greater production of a few food
crops accompanied by even worse hunger and environmental degradation,"
said Diamantino Nhampossa, a contributor to the report and Executive
Coordinator of the União Nacional de Camponeses (National Peasants
Union) in Mozambique and member of the Via Campesina's International
Coordinating Committee for the Africa Region.

The battle over genetic engineering is being fought across the
world, between those who champion farmers' rights to seeds, livelihood,
and land, and those who seek to privatize these. While promotional
campaigns for technological solutions to hunger regularly feature a
handful of African spokespeople who drown out the genuine voices of
farmers, researchers, and civil society groups, there is widespread
opposition to genetic engineering and plans for a New Green Revolution
for Africa. Voices From Africa is based on the essays and statements of
leading African farmers, environmentalists, and civil society groups,
and brings to light the real African perspectives on technological
solutions to hunger and poverty on the continent--and the solutions
that the people on the ground believe would bring true development.

The increase in hunger resulting from 2008's steep increase in
food prices has been used to make a case for increasing agricultural
production through technical solutions such as genetically engineered
crops. This "poor washing"--the spurious claim that technology will
address the needs of the hungry--and "green washing"--the claim that
this technology will help address the threat of climate change--conveys
a false sense of need. Voices from Africa clarifies how solutions to
hunger and environmental degradation require a paradigm shift that
values local and traditional knowledge and biodiversity, opens policy
space for developing countries to craft their own solutions, and allows
for agriculture and trade policies that protect local and regional
markets for small farmers, pastorlists, and fisherfolk. "The way to
fight poverty in Africa is to embrace the proposal of food sovereignty
that comes from the movement of peasants, indigenous peoples, migrants,
women, and rural communities," said Mr. Nhampossa. "Food sovereignty
puts those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of
food systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and
corporations."

Other voices featured in the report include: Mariam Mayet,
African Center of Biodiversity, South Africa; Nnimo Bassey,
Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria; David Fig, BioWatch, South
Africa; Mukoma Wa Ngugi, BBC Focus on Africa Magazine; Makhathe
Moahloli, Katleho Moho Association (KMA), Lesotho; Zachary Makanya,
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM),
Kenya; and Gertrude Kenyangi Kabusimbi, Support for Women in
Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), Uganda.

Voices from Africa:African Farmers & Environmentalists
Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa is a publication of
the Oakland Institute (www.oaklandinstitute.org), a think tank for
research, analysis, and action whose mission is to increase public
participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic, and
environmental issues in both national and international forums.

Download the Report

Download the Introduction

Meet the Authors

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The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums.

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