Farm Groups Want Action On Monsanto

A coalition of family farmers, consumers and other critics of corporate agriculture are calling on the U.S. government to crack down on what they see as unfair consolidation of the nation’s food system into the hands of a few multinationals –particularly Monsanto.

From Reuters

Farm groups call on U.S. to “bust up big ag”

98 Organizations Oppose Obama’s Monsanto Man, Islam Siddiqui, for US Agricultural Trade Representative.

* By Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network, and Katherine Ozer, Executive Director, National Family Farm Coalition

February 22, 2010 Straight to the Source

A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association – has been fighting since the fall to block Obama’s nomination of CropLife/biotech industry rep and former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to the position of Chief Ag Negotiator at the US Office of the Trade Rep. The nomination was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, but is stalled in the Senate. It could go to a Senate floor vote any day now. The coalition sent the following letter to the Senate on February 22, 2010. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, please click here.

Dear Senator:

The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee’s favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.

Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.

The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.

The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.

We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.

Sincerely,

98 organizations who signed on to the letter to the Senate:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK)
AllergyKids (CO)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (WI)
Beyond Pesticides (DC)
Breast Cancer Action (CA)
California Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture (CA)
Californians for Pesticide Reform (CA)
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CA)
Center for Environmental Health (CA)
Center for Food Safety (DC)
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CA)
Central Florida Jobs with Justice Project (FL)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (NE)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (OR)
Cornucopia Institute (WI)
Earth Justice (CA)
Equal Exchange (MA)
Fair Trade Coalition (MN)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX)
Farm Worker Pesticide Project (WA)
Farmworker Association of Florida (FL)
Farmworker Justice (DC)
Farmworkers Self-Help (FL)
Food & Water Watch (DC)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (CA)
Food for Maine’s Future (ME)
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FL)
Food Democracy Now! (IA)
Food Systems Integrity (MA)
Florida Organic Growers (FL)
Fresno Metro Ministry (CA)
Friends of the Earth (DC, CA)
Greenpeace US (DC, CA)
Grassroots International (MA)
Growing Power Inc. (WI)
Indigenous Environmental Network (MN) Indiana Toxics Action (IN) Innovative Farmers of Ohio (OH) Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (MN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA)
Kids for Saving Earth (MN)
Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KY)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Lideres Campesinas (CA)
Maine Fair Trade Campaign (ME)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (ME)
Maryland Pesticide Network (MD)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MS)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO)
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (OK)
National Family Farm Coalition (DC)
National Farm Worker Ministry (MO)
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (DC)
New York Environmental Law & Justice (NY)
Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (CT)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (ME)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
Oakland Institute (CA)
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade (OH)
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project (OK)
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (OR)
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OR)
Organic Consumers Association (MN)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (WV)
Pesticide Action Network North America (CA)
Pesticide Free Zone (CA)
Pesticide Watch (CA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles (CA)
Public Citizen (DC)
Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NY)
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (NC)
Rural Coalition/ Coalición Rural
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (CA)
Science and Environmental Health Network (IA)
Sciencecorps (MA)
Search for the Cause (CA)
Sierra Club (CA, DC)
Small Holders Alliance of Massachusetts (MA)
Student Action with Farmworkers (NC)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (CO)
The Safe Lawns Foundation (ME)
The Second Chance Foundation Washington (WA)
Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WA)
Western Organization of Resource Councils (MT)
World Hunger Year (NY)

Siddiqui and CropLife: Statements and Positions

Islam Siddiqui was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is currently Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America. CropLife is an agricultural industry trade group that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other pesticide and agricultural biotech corporations.

Siddiqui’s statements and positions—both as a public official and as an industry executive— coupled with CropLife America’s consistent record on public policy issues demonstrate a narrow and short-sighted view of American agriculture and trade interests. This viewpoint consistently places the special interests of large agribusiness above the health and welfare interests the broader public, the international community and the environment.

WHAT DOES SIDDIQUI’S POSITION ENTAIL?

Enforcing Trade Agreements

According to the Progressive Government Institute, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator “conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements… This includes multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries and groups of countries. The ambassador also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies, and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic agricultural industry groups to assure their interest are represented in trade.” The industry groups’ interests will be more than adequately represented, as the WTO’s Doha Round will be a perfect opportunity for the agrochemical industry to push for trade agreements that maintain US subsidies, lower tariffs on chemicals, promote GM crops, and unfairly benefit the agrochemical companies that Siddiqui represents.

Source: http://www.progressivegovernment.org/appointee_data4.php?…

Legislative Influence and Defining ‘Sound Science’

Another part of the job description is that “He or she also coordinates closely with the US government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in international trade are based on sound science.” Siddiqui’s background has always favored “sound science” to mean high-cost, high-input (and high profit, for CropLife’s members) agricultural practices being imposed on developing countries, despite their preferences. Many countries have chosen to ban GMOs on the precautionary principle, including the EU, but Siddiqui will be able to use the trade talks as leverage so that CropLife’s member companies can force their way around those precautions. Siddiqui will also be able to influence the results of the Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act Bill (which mandates government funding for biotechnology research).

SIDDIQUI AN APOLOGIST FOR AGRICHEMICAL AND BIOTECH INDUSTRIES

Siddiqui Claimed EU Rejection of GMOs was “Denying Food to Starving People”

In 2003, Siddiqui applauded the Bush Administration’s decision to seek an end to the EU’s moratorium on approval of imports of genetically modified crops. Croplife America said the EU’s position had “no scientific foundation” and Siddiqui said, “EU’s illegal moratorium has had a negative ripple effect of creeping regulations and non-science-based decisions, which have resulted in denying food to starving people. The WTO requires that international trade rules be based on sound science, and today’s decision will send that strong message to the EU and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” [Delta Farm Press, 5/23/03]

Siddiqui Compared GMO Acceptance to Accepting “Microwave Ovens”

In 2002, Siddiqui claimed biotech foods have been proven to be as safe as traditionally grown foods. He cited a similar distrust of a new technology many people had when microwave ovens were first introduced; eventually, consumer acceptance of the technology became widespread. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Criticized EU for Insisting On “Precautionary Principle” On GMOs

In 2002, Siddiqui criticized the European Union’s precautionary principle rationale for rejecting the import of GMOs. Widely recognized in the international community, the precautionary principle allows societies to protect people and the planet when there are uncertainties or unknown risks associated with the introduction or use of a product. Siddiqui said the principle didn’t offer any more real protection to citizens than U.S.- “science-based” regulations and was being used by politicians as a non-tariff trade barrier. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Called for New Biotech Green Revolution

Statement by Siddiqui this year on new Green Revolution: “What we need now in the 21st century is another revolution, which some people are calling the second green revolution… You need to have use of 21st century technologies, including biotechnology, genetic technology, and all the other technologies, which are being (inaudible), in terms of achieving that.”

Source: “Green Innovation: Can Patents Help Make the World a Bett… April 22, 2009

Siddiqui Rejected Consumer Labeling of GMOs While Working at USDA

As a special assistant for trade at USDA, Siddiqui in 1999 warned Japan that if they implemented mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt trade. Siddiqui said, “We do not believe that obligatory GMO labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none.” He added, “Mandatory labeling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan requires mandatory labeling.” Siddiqui also said Japan, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is obligated to find the least trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a number of ways other than labeling, such as educational materials and public forums, to provide consumers with information on genetic engineering, he said. [Reuters, 7/27/1999]

Siddiqui is a Former Registered Lobbyist

From 2001- 2003, Islam Siddiqui was a registered lobbyist with CropLife America, which spent just over $2 million on lobbying the federal government in 2008, and just under $1.9 million in 2007 on issues like registering pesticides for use in schools, limiting the Endangered Species Act so that it doesn’t inhibit agricultural pesticide use, revision of EPA pesticide registration fees, and fighting the EPA on restrictions to the use of fumigants.

CROPLIFE AMERICA REGIONAL PARTNER TARGETED MICHELLE OBAMA ORGANIC GARDEN

CropLife America’s Regional Partner Targeted Michelle Obama Organic Garden

CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive defending chemical intensive agriculture and urging Michelle Obama to consider using pesticidies and herbicides. Mid America CropLife Association is listed as a regional partner on CropLife America’s website.

Letter: http://susty.com/michelle-obama-letter-mid-america-cropli…

SIDDIQUI OVERSAW FIASCO OVER USDA’s FIRST PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS

Siddiqui Instrumental in Drafting First Proposed Organic Standards that Would Have Allowed Toxic Sludge, GMOs and Irradiated Food to be Labeled “Organic”

As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and permitted the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. Only after 230,000 comments flooded into USDA were these standards strengthened. It remains one of the highest outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in U.S. history. [Mother Jones]

Siddiqui Admitted USDA Overruled Organics Board Recommendations

Siddiqui justified allowing for possible allowance of GMOs, irradiated foods and toxic sludge under the organics by saying, “we know that [the] Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There’s a considerable debate on these issues; it’s a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs. [Federal News Service, 12/15/07]

Siddiqui Admitted Allowing no GMOs in Organics Would Possibly be “Inconsistent” with Forcing GMOs on EU

Siddiqui explained one of the reasons GMOs were not banned under organic label was because ” … some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients.” [Food and Drink Weekly, 1/19/98]

CROPLIFE AMERICA SPENT HALF-MILLION TO DEFEAT COUNTY-LEVEL ANTI-GMO INITIATIVE

CropLife Spent $500,000 to Defeat County Ballot Banning GMOs

“In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a Mendocino County ballot initiative – known as Measure H – that would make the country the first to ban genetically engineered crops. In the lead up to the vote, CropLife contributed over $500,000 – more than seven times that of the initiative supporters – to defeat the proposal. [1] Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by a margin of 56% to 43%. [2]”

Siddiqui Said “Pleased” by Defeat of Ballot Measures

Siddiqui, on behalf of CropLife America, said he was pleased that voters in three California counties had rejected proposed bans on biotech crop cultivation. “I think you’ll see more counties in California try[proposing a ban]the next time they can get it on the ballot,” he said, adding that similar initiatives are unlikely in other states. [Food Chemical News, 1/3/05]

CROPLIFE AMERICA CONSISTENTLY FAVORS AGRIBUSINESS INTERESTS OVER PUBLIC INTEREST

CropLife Lobbied to Allow Children to be Used for Pesticide Experiments

In August 2005, CropLife America met with Bush Administration officials at the Office of Managment and Budget and EPA to allow for children to participate in pesticide experiments. CropLife America urged certain allowances to be made for chemical testing on children.  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the meeting for excluding the perspectives of ethicists, child advocates and scientists. EPA one month later adopted a human testing rule in line with CropLife America’s suggestions. Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to adequately protect women and children. [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruck commented on the backdoor meeting, “These meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry’s top objective is access to children for experiments. After reading these ghoulish notes one has the urge to take a shower. For an administration which trumpets its concern for the ‘value and dignity of life,’ it is disconcerting that no ethicists, children advocates or scientists were invited to this meeting to counterbalance the pesticide pushers.” [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

Supported Use of Human Test Subjects

In 2003, CropLife America expressed pleasure that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA’s “previous practice of considering third- party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation.” “We are pleased that the court recognized that EPA’s moratorium constituted a binding regulation issued without notice and the opportunity to comment,” said Jay J. Vroom, head of CropLife America. [U.S. Newswire, 6/3/03]

CropLife America Secured Continued Use Of Banned Ozone-Depleting Pesticide, Methyl Bromide

CropLife America supported the continued use of methyl bromide by farmers in the U.S. despite its supposed ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Bush administration secured an exemption of the highly controversial chemical in 2006. “By no means is there one product that will fit all the critical uses of methyl bromide today,” CropLife CEO Jay Vroom said. The continued exemptions are needed while research continues on the alternative pesticides, he said, adding, “We’re not there yet, and the American farmer needs to have these tools so we can continue to be have viable exports.” Source: Associated Press, Nov 4, 2006. For more information see the website for the UN Environmental Programme Ozone Secretariat. The PANNA website contains extensive resources and fact sheets on methyl bromide’s use for soil fumigation.

·       Methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleter used on strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and other crops. The EPA has classified methyl bromide as a Toxicity Category I compound, the most deadly category of substances due to causing neurological damage and reproductive harm. Farmworkers in particular have experienced death, birth defects, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness as a result of direct exposure to methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide has also been listed as a Class I Ozone Depleter under the Clean Air Act. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic pesticide.

·       From 1982 to 1990, at least 18 people in California died from exposure to methyl bromide. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation also reports at least 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries and 60 cases of skin damage from methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has also caused birth defects in studies required by U.S. EPA and submitted by the manufacturer.

·       Methyl bromide is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage lungs and kidneys and possibly cause cancer. Direct exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Many farmworkers and residents near fumigated fields have experienced these symptoms. [Pesticide Action Network]

Croplife America Resistant to International Regulations Over Toxic Chemicals

Croplife America has been a driving force to weaken the U.S. position on the Stockholm Convention, a critical effort to regulate the use of toxic “persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” These include the well known chemicals DDT, PCBs and dioxins that have been linked to a host of serious human health problems and environmental concerns. Even at very low levels of exposure, POPs can cause reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the immune and nervous systems, and a range of cancers. CropLife America has argued that “American sovereignty” concerns should override the treaty if the chemical regulations are stronger than U.S. law. CropLife America explicitly calls for the U.S. to “protect export markets for American produce and farm commodities,” even if they use chemicals that may be outlawed by the POP treaties. [CropLife America Website]

CropLife America Argues for Allowing Usage of Toxic Endosulfans

Croplife America and its international counterpart CropLife International, whom Siddiqui has represented in international negotiations, have continuously argued for a legitimate role for the dangerous POP endosulfan.  However in October 2009, scientists declared that: “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The finding sets the stage for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention. Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor, and low dose exposure while in the womb is linked to male reproductive harm, autism, and birth defects. High dose exposures are acutely toxic, resulting in headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death. [Manila Bulletin, 10/20/09]

CropLife America Withdrew from Landmark UN/World Bank Study on Ag Research (IAASTD) that Highlighted Agroecological Science as Promising Way to “Feed the World”

CropLife Upset Industry Viewpoint Not Allowed to Dictate Findings

CropLife International participated in the UN/World Bank-sponsored International Assessment for Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) for 4 years, before withdrawing in the final days of the process. The IAASTD reports—authored by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries, and subjected to two open public review processes—remains the most authoritative study to date on agriculture research and technology. CropLife objected to the measured but lukewarm findings of the IAASTD on “modern biotechnology” and genetic engineering. According to the spokesman for CropLife, their decision to withdraw in the final days was prompted by “the inability of its members to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports” —a complaint belied by the fact that IAASTD editors repeatedly offered CropLife a “blank page” to present the industry’s viewpoints. Ultimately, industry authors failed to submit text in time for publication.

The IAASTD concluded that an increase in investments in agroecological practices would be necessary to meet 21st century needs, noting that agroecological, organic, biodiverse and regenerative practices represented highly promising and scientifically robust approaches to feeding the world while also meeting social equity and sustainability goals, particularly under increasing stresses of climate change, water scarcity and fossil-fuel based energy limitations. In contrast, the IAASTD observed that chemical intensive and GMO-based practices were unlikely to meet these goals, had in many cases undermined public health and/or contaminated the environment, and posed severe social equity concerns due to industry concentration, IPR and patent rules. [Bioscience Resource, New Scientist, PANNA]

Prepared by Lindsey Schneider and Vera Glavova, PANNA, with contributions from National Family Farm Coalition. For further information on CropLife: http://www.panna.org/resources/popshttp://www.panna.org/resources/treaties

Pesticide Action Network has worked to replace pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five regional facilitating organizations serving a global network of more than 600 civil society groups in over 90 countries who share these goals. For more information, see http://www.panna.org.

Source

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign

Join OCA’s Campaign to Mobilize One Million Consumers to End Monsanto’s Global Corporate Terrorism

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

Monsanto sues and sues and sues and…

(Monday, July 14, 2003 — CropChoice guest commentary) — Monsanto and President George Bush have one thing in common. Both have a liking for the “walk softly and carry a big stick” form of public relations. Bush uses his big economic stick to gain the support of various nations in his quest to make the world safe for American corporations. Monsanto also uses a big economic stick – the big stick of the courtroom, to beat up those who fall afoul of its litigious nature. And, like George Bush, Monsanto has been pretty successful with these tactics. After all, the effect of a cluster bomb dropping on the home quarter would not be much more devastating than the effect of being sued by a huge corporation that is willing and able to spend millions to gain its ends.

Monsanto is very determined to defend its position that farmers must buy new seed of its patented genetically modified crops each year. Monsanto has built a whole department to enforce its seed patents and licensing agreements. It has 75 employees and an annual budget of $10 million.

An estimated 400 farmers have received threats of legal action from Monsanto over alleged patent infringement. While Canadian farmers will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of Percy Schmeiser, names like Homan McFarling and Nelson Farms should resonate with American producers. Few of these cases ever get to court because most farmers look at the odds of outlasting Monsanto and simply give in. A clause in Monsanto’s licensing agreement allows Monsanto to take such cases in the U.S. before courts in Missouri. This can add a huge amount to the legal bills of farmers who might be thousands of miles away.

Several of the cases that have gone to court are enough to scare farmers into meek submission to Monsanto’s demands. Homan McFarling was fined $780,000 for growing Roundup Ready soybeans without paying Monsanto’s licensing fee. Tennessee farmer Kem Ralph was fined $1.7 million and sentenced to eight months in jail for a variety of offenses that began with a Monsanto lawsuit.

Monsanto must be pleased with the results of its aggressive legal campaign. So pleased, in fact, it has decided to branch out. Monsanto’s latest foray into the courtroom has it suing a dairy in Maine, alleging that Oakhurst Dairy’s marketing campaign that touts its milk as being free of artificial growth hormones is misleading. Monsanto further claims Oakhurst’s ads and labels are deceptive and disparage Monsanto’s products by implying that milk from untreated cows is better than milk from hormone-treated cows.

Monsanto is the world’s only producer of artificial bovine growth hormone (BGH). This product is banned in Canada and elsewhere because of concerns about its impact on humans and the cows that are injected with it. In the U.S., where BGH is legal, some dairy farmers have captured a niche market by declaring that they do not use it on their cows. The Oakhurst Dairy label is simple enough: “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones.” Who would have thought that a simple statement of the truth could have such dire consequences?

Oddly enough, it would not be unexpected if Monsanto were to name the state of Maine as a co-defendant. Maine has a program, the Quality Trademark Seal, which can only be carried on dairy products that are guaranteed free of artificial growth hormones.

Monsanto’s latest legal moves have angered farmers and consumers alike. Oakhurst Dairy defends the right of consumers to know what is in the milk they drink. Farmers who currently produce this milk would lose the ability to differentiate their product if Monsanto’s suit is successful. Other dairies, which make similar claims, will be watching.

Monsanto treads on thin ice with its aggressive litigation. However, it need not fear the same consumer backlash that other companies might face. Monsanto does not sell directly to the average consumer. Rather, its customers are farmers who often have no other place to go if they want to grow certain products. Because of this dependency relationship, farmers cannot afford to stay angry at Monsanto forever. Monsanto, on the other hand, can enjoy the exercise of its brute power with little fear of repercussions. It is a situation that could easily get worse. Source

This type of thing is what destroys farmers and farms. This is not protecting Farming Communities.  Monsanto sues anyone they can.

They even sued a Dairy Monsanto didn’t like their label. Turns out however Hormones in milk does cause health problems.

Monsanto seed contaminated a Canadian farmers field and Monsanto sued him, like it was his fault the wind blew seed into his field. That is how low Monsanto will go.

This also happens in the US as well.

Farmers even have been sued after their fields were contaminated by pollen or seed from a previous year’s crop has sprouted, or “volunteered,” in fields planted with non-genetically engineered varieties the following year; and when they never signed Monsanto’s Technology Agreement but still planted the patented crop seed. In all of these cases, because of the way patent law has been applied, farmers are technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use was unwitting or if a contract was never signed. Source

Monsanto destroys Farmers. The GM foods may not be safe to consume either. Monsanto has a history of creating things that kill you.

Monsanto Roundup is it safe

Probably as safe as Agent Orange., Another Monsanto product.

Thee are tons of stories out there about Monsanto and it’s unethical practices.

Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Killing Wheat

Monsanto also produces the most commonly used broadleaf pesticide in the world, glyphosate–or Roundup. In addition to its inherent toxicity as a chemical pesticide, Roundup has now been found to aid the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat. This disease creates a toxin in the infected wheat, making the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Canada’s wheat industry is currently being ravaged by this disease. At the same time, the widespread use of Roundup has resulted in the formation of “super weeds” — unwanted plants that have developed an immunity to these pesticides. Read study linking Monsanto’s Roundup to Cancer.

Monsanto’s Lobbying in 2009

Conflict of Interest: Ex Monsanto Lawyer Clarence Thomas to Hear Major Monsanto Case  March 9 2010

Related

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

They have Lied about the Safety of our Food And Still Do

Monsanto seed business role revealed is squeezing out competitors

By Christopher Leonard

December 13 2009

ST. LOUIS – Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.’s business practices reveal how the world’s biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.

With Monsanto’s patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., the company also is using its wide reach to control the ability of new biotech firms to get wide distribution for their products, according to a review of several Monsanto licensing agreements and dozens of interviews with seed industry participants, agriculture and legal experts.

Declining competition in the seed business could lead to price hikes that ripple out to every family’s dinner table. That’s because the corn flakes you had for breakfast, soda you drank at lunch and beef stew you ate for dinner likely were produced from crops grown with Monsanto’s patented genes.

Monsanto’s methods are spelled out in a series of confidential commercial licensing agreements obtained by the AP. The contracts, as long as 30 pages, include basic terms for the selling of engineered crops resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, along with shorter supplementary agreements that address new Monsanto traits or other contract amendments.

The company has used the agreements to spread its technology — giving some 200 smaller companies the right to insert Monsanto’s genes in their separate strains of corn and soybean plants. But, the AP found, access to Monsanto’s genes comes at a cost, and with plenty of strings attached.

For example, one contract provision bans independent companies from breeding plants that contain both Monsanto’s genes and the genes of any of its competitors, unless Monsanto gives prior written permission — giving Monsanto the ability to effectively lock out competitors from inserting their patented traits into the vast share of U.S. crops that already contain Monsanto’s genes.

Monsanto’s business strategies and licensing agreements are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and at least two state attorneys general, who are trying to determine if the practices violate U.S. antitrust laws. The practices also are at the heart of civil antitrust suits filed against Monsanto by its competitors, including a 2004 suit filed by Syngenta AG that was settled with an agreement and ongoing litigation filed this summer by DuPont in response to a Monsanto lawsuit.

The suburban St. Louis-based agricultural giant said it’s done nothing wrong.

“We do not believe there is any merit to allegations about our licensing agreement or the terms within,” said Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles. He said he couldn’t comment on many specific provisions of the agreements because they are confidential and the subject of ongoing litigation.

“Our approach to licensing (with) many companies is pro-competitive and has enabled literally hundreds of seed companies, including all of our major direct competitors, to offer thousands of new seed products to farmers,” he said.

The benefit of Monsanto’s technology for farmers has been undeniable, but some of its major competitors and smaller seed firms claim the company is using strong-arm tactics to further its control.

“We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,” said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades. “The upshot of that is that it’s tightening Monsanto’s control, and makes it possible for them to increase their prices long term. And we’ve seen this happening the last five years, and the end is not in sight.”

At issue is how much power one company can have over seeds, the foundation of the world’s food supply. Without stiff competition, Monsanto could raise its seed prices at will, which in turn could raise the cost of everything from animal feed to wheat bread and cookies.

The price of seeds is already rising. Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.

Monsanto’s broad use of licensing agreements has made its biotech traits among the most widely and rapidly adopted technologies in farming history. These days, when farmers buy bags of seed with obscure brand names like AgVenture or M-Pride Genetics, they are paying for Monsanto’s licensed products.

One of the numerous provisions in the licensing agreements is a ban on mixing genes — or “stacking” in industry lingo — that enhance Monsanto’s power.

One contract provision likely helped Monsanto buy 24 independent seed companies throughout the Farm Belt over the last few years: that corn seed agreement says that if a smaller company changes ownership, its inventory with Monsanto’s traits “shall be destroyed immediately.”

Another provision from contracts earlier this decade_ regarding rebates — also help explain Monsanto’s rapid growth as it rolled out new products.

One contract gave an independent seed company deep discounts if the company ensured that Monsanto’s products would make up 70 percent of its total corn seed inventory. In its 2004 lawsuit, Syngenta called the discounts part of Monsanto’s “scorched earth campaign” to keep Syngenta’s new traits out of the market.

Quarles said the discounts were used to entice seed companies to carry Monsanto products when the technology was new and farmers hadn’t yet used it. Now that the products are widespread, Monsanto has discontinued the discounts, he said.

The Monsanto contracts reviewed by the AP prohibit seed companies from discussing terms, and Monsanto has the right to cancel deals and wipe out the inventory of a business if the confidentiality clauses are violated.

Thomas Terral, chief executive officer of Terral Seed in Louisiana, said he recently rejected a Monsanto contract because it put too many restrictions on his business. But Terral refused to provide the unsigned contract to AP or even discuss its contents because he was afraid Monsanto would retaliate and cancel the rest of his agreements.

“I would be so tied up in what I was able to do that basically I would have no value to anybody else,” he said. “The only person I would have value to is Monsanto, and I would continue to pay them millions in fees.”

Independent seed company owners could drop their contracts with Monsanto and return to selling conventional seed, but they say it could be financially ruinous. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene has become the industry standard over the last decade, and small companies fear losing customers if they drop it. It also can take years of breeding and investment to mix Monsanto’s genes into a seed company’s product line, so dropping the genes can be costly.

Monsanto acknowledged that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are seeking documents and interviewing company employees about its marketing practices. The DOJ wouldn’t comment.

A spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the office is examining possible antitrust violations. Additionally, two sources familiar with an investigation in Texas said state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office is considering the same issues. States have the authority to enforce federal antitrust law, and attorneys general are often involved in such cases.

Monsanto chairman and chief executive officer Hugh Grant told investment analysts during a conference call this fall that the price increases are justified by the productivity boost farmers get from the company’s seeds. Farmers and seed company owners agree that Monsanto’s technology has boosted yields and profits, saving farmers time they once spent weeding and money they once spent on pesticides.

But recent price hikes have still been tough to swallow on the farm.

“It’s just like I got hit with bad weather and got a poor yield. It just means I’ve got less in the bottom line,” said Markus Reinke, a corn and soybean farmer near Concordia, Mo. who took over his family’s farm in 1965. “They can charge because they can do it, and get away with it. And us farmers just complain, and shake our heads and go along with it.”

Any Justice Department case against Monsanto could break new ground in balancing a company’s right to control its patented products while protecting competitors’ right to free and open competition, said Kevin Arquit, former director of the Federal Trade Commission competition bureau and now a antitrust attorney with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York.

“These are very interesting issues, and not just for the companies, but for the Justice Department,” Arquit said. “They’re in an area where there is uncertainty in the law and there are consumer welfare implications and government policy implications for whatever the result is.”

Other seed companies have followed Monsanto’s lead by including restrictive clauses in their licensing agreements, but their products only penetrate smaller segments of the U.S. seed market. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene, on the other hand, is in such a wide array of crops that its licensing agreements can have a massive effect on the rules of the marketplace.

Monsanto was only a niche player in the seed business just 12 years ago. It rose to the top thanks to innovation by its scientists and aggressive use of patent law by its attorneys.

First came the science, when Monsanto in 1996 introduced the world’s first commercial strain of genetically engineered soybeans. The Roundup Ready plants were resistant to the herbicide, allowing farmers to spray Roundup whenever they wanted rather than wait until the soybeans had grown enough to withstand the chemical.

The company soon released other genetically altered crops, such as corn plants that produced a natural pesticide to ward off bugs. While Monsanto had blockbuster products, it didn’t yet have a big foothold in a seed industry made up of hundreds of companies that supplied farmers.

That’s where the legal innovations came in, as Monsanto became among the first to widely patent its genes and gain the right to strictly control how they were used. That control let it spread its technology through licensing agreements, while shaping the marketplace around them.

Back in the 1970s, public universities developed new traits for corn and soybean seeds that made them grow hardy and resist pests. Small seed companies got the traits cheaply and could blend them to breed superior crops without restriction. But the agreements give Monsanto control over mixing multiple biotech traits into crops.

The restrictions even apply to taxpayer-funded researchers.

Roger Boerma, a research professor at the University of Georgia, is developing specialized strains of soybeans that grow well in southeastern states, but his current research is tangled up in such restrictions from Monsanto and its competitors.

“It’s made one level of our life incredibly challenging and difficult,” Boerma said.

The rules also can restrict research. Boerma halted research on a line of new soybean plants that contain a trait from a Monsanto competitor when he learned that the trait was ineffective unless it could be mixed with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene.

Boerma said he hasn’t considered asking Monsanto’s permission to mix its traits with the competitor’s trait.

“I think the co-mingling of their trait technology with another company’s trait technology would likely be a serious problem for them,” he said.

Quarles pointed out that Monsanto has signed agreements with several companies allowing them to stack their traits with Monsanto’s. After Syngenta settled its lawsuit, for example, the companies struck a broad cross-licensing accord.

At the same time, Monsanto’s patent rights give it the authority to say how independent companies use its traits, Quarles said.

“Please also keep in mind that, as the (intellectual property developer), it is our right to determine who will obtain rights to our technology and for what purpose,” he said.

Monsanto’s provision requiring companies to destroy seeds containing Monsanto’s traits if a competitor buys them prohibited DuPont or other big firms from bidding against Monsanto when it snapped up two dozen smaller seed companies over the last five years, said David Boies, a lawyer representing DuPont who previously was a prosecutor on the federal antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

Competitive bids from companies like DuPont could have made it far more expensive for Monsanto to bring the smaller companies into its fold. But that contract provision prevented bidding wars, according to DuPont.

“If the independent seed company is losing their license and has to destroy their seeds, they’re not going to have anything, in effect, to sell,” Boies said. “It requires them to destroy things — destroy things they paid for — if they go competitive. That’s exactly the kind of restriction on competitive choice that the antitrust laws outlaw.”

Quarles said some of the Monsanto contracts let companies sell their inventory for a period of time, rather than be required to destroy it. Seed companies also don’t have to pay royalty fees on the bags of seed they destroyed.

“Simply put, it was designed to facilitate early adoption of the technology,” he said.

Some independent seed company owners say they feel increasingly pinched as Monsanto cements its leadership in the industry.

“They have the capital, they have the resources, they own lots of companies, and buying more. We’re small town, they’re Wall Street,” said Bill Cook, co-owner of M-Pride Genetics seed company in Garden City, Mo., who also declined to discuss or provide the agreements. “It’s very difficult to compete in this environment against companies like Monsanto.

Source

Boycotting Monsanto would be the thing to do. They do everything they can to dominate the world food supply.

For more information on Monsanto and other GM Companies

Millions Against Monsanto Petition

Related Article

GM crops are not superior, as we are lead to believe.

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Monsanto seed business role revealed is squeezing out competitors  
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Barack Obama: Hope for America, but maybe not for the world?

November 7 2008

Barack Obama has run perhaps the best organized and most inspiring of presidential campaigns in US political history. He has risen above sleazy political tactics, challenged stereotypes, eschewed divisiveness, focused on issues that are important to Americans, and maintained his poise and principles in the face of tremendous pressure from his opponents. It has been truly awe-inspiring and admirable.

There is little wonder that almost 53% of American voters and perhaps a larger percentage of the world population have found themselves strongly attracted to Barack Obama. He has become a shining beacon of “hope” and “change” for a country in a crisis of self-confidence, and a world participating vicariously through the blown up “reality-TV” of American presidential elections.

Without taking anything away from the greatness of Obama’s achievement, and the historical importance of this event for American culture and identity, I feel constrained to point out that those who think an Obama presidency will improve the way that the United States has been engaging with the world may need to take a reality-check.

I say this as one who instinctively likes Barack Obama, has tremendous respect and admiration for him, shares with him the same alma mater, has close friends and relatives all across the United States, and has followed the campaign speeches, events and reporting on the US election with pathological interest.

I am addressing this article only to those who are already aware of the many ways in which the United States has been uniquely responsible for undermining international law, stability, peace and prosperity in the World. Those who are offended that I could even make such a suggestion should investigate elsewhere, and read no further.

The insight I share is a simple one: nothing that Barack Obama has done or promised gives rise to the “hope” that an Obama presidency will usher in the “change we need” in the world. The gloomy conclusion comes from asking a series of questions, and for each one recognizing the answer to be “no he won’t”:

  1. Will president Obama allow the United States to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC)? The ICC is the preeminent global mechanism for holding egregious human rights violators to account, when they are able to escape being held to account by national jurisdictions. It is a mechanism championed by Europe and enthusiastically adopted by much of the world, but almost fatally undermined by the United States formal renouncing in 2002, and keeping a clutch of countries that depend on US support away from it – Sri Lanka being amongst that number.
  2. Will president Obama bring the United States into the Kyoto protocol or at least an equivalent and sufficient compact on responding to Global Warming? The United States with less than four percent of the global population is responsible for more a quarter of the annual emissions that cause global warming – by far the highest per-capita pollution rate. The negative consequences of Global warming will be borne disproportionately by the poor of the world who have benefited the least from the industrial activities over the last hundred years that have brought about the problem.
  3. Will president Obama bring the United States back in to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia, or an acceptable equivalent? President George Bush in 2002 withdrew the US from the 1972 ABM treaty, because Russia could no longer compete in the arms race. This withdrawal from the treaty and subsequent plans for missile deployments in countries close to Russia has been the principal reason for souring relations with Moscow. It has begun a new version of the cold war, with attendant threats to the security of the world. (Georgia being the first bit of grass to get trampled as the Elephants position them-selves in the fight).
  4. Will president Obama reverse the longstanding US policy of blindly supporting Israel as it continues to deny the people of Palestine a just return of their lands and the right to a dignified existence in their own territory? Israel routinely receives upwards of 2 billion dollars in military aid alone from the US each year (together with about another one billion in non-military aid, Israel receives one sixth of the US foreign aid budget each year), and at the U.N. Security Council the US routinely exercises its veto power in favour of Israel anytime the rest of the world tries to even voice their concern about the injustice. This unprincipled support has been the chief recruiting sergeant in the Middle East for Al Qaida-style organizations, which are undermining stability and peace in the world.
  5. Will president Obama choke off the still strong political and military support by the US for the utterly corrupt, repressive, authoritarian Saudi Arabian regime? The Saudi regime is amongst the most corrupt and repressive in the world. That regime and US support for it remains the second most important driver of Al Qaida recruitment. It monopolises the massive wealth from oil revenues for the aggrandizement of a small circle of family, friends, and multinational oil companies, denying much of the local population even a semblance of fair share and perpetuates that injustice by repressive laws, restricted freedoms and denial of democracy.
  6. Will president Obama after closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp (even McCain would) apologise and pay compensation to those who can’t be charged — the large number of innocent people yanked in there by mercenary schemes, tortured, and denied any semblance of justice for now almost 7 years? Guantanamo Bay prison has — in large screen technicolour, brazenly and shamelessly — flouted numerous international covenants on civil, political and human rights. Since it’s inception in January 2002, Guantanamo Bay prison has shown the middle finger to the universal values of civilised cultures and made these values seem cheap, subservient, and disposable when inconvenient. Such an iconic prison camp that ends with unrepentant impunity will have terribly undermined the power of these values to shape the world.
  7. Will president Obama change the US position in 2001, when it became the only country to oppose the international UN treaty on curbing the flow of small arms? This treaty – spearheaded by Sri Lankan Jayantha Dhanapala, then under-secretary-general to Kofi Anan – aimed to provide some simple global standards and tracing methods to curtail the illicit flow of small arms in the world (much of them manufactured and sold by the US). These weapons expand the power of organized crime, fuel militia gangs, arm child soldiers (including those of the LTTE in Sri Lanka), and are estimated by the UN to kill at least half a million people each year.
  8. Will president Obama withdraw US intransigence at World Trade talks (which have been failing to reach consensus since the Doha round in 2001)? The US (which together with the EU spends more than 100 billion dollars per year on farm subsidies) wants to continue denying farmers from poor countries the same access to the markets of very rich nations, as has been secured for multinationals from those countries into the markets of the poor? Even the global western institutions such as the IMF and World Bank admit openly that this lack of symmetry in trade access is one of the principle causes of poverty in the African continent, the poorest region of the world.

I have considered here only a few of the burning questions of the world. I think they highlight the bleakness of this grand “change” in America, in terms of having a positive effect on the way that American power is wielded in the world. With a George Bush presidency, there was at least no illusion about the selfish abuse of military and institutional power by the United States. An Obama presidency that continues these wolfish tendencies in sheep’s clothing will not make the world a better place.

The election of Barack Obama is shrouded in the illusion that US engagement in the world will now be moral and benevolent. But the time for that has not yet arrived, and is not likely to arrive until US economic and military power diminishes more significantly. For those who were listening, Barack Obama has in fact been threatening the world, by the trade, military and foreign policy positions that he has articulated consistently throughout his campaign – and there is no reason to think he didn’t mean what he said.

Has Barack Obama offered “hope” for Americans? Resoundingly “Yes!” But the hope that President Obama offers Americans is not hope for the world.

Source

Can he stop the war mongering that has become embedded in America?

Can he eliminate the corruption in the American political system?
The American self serving agenda has seeped into every corner of the world. Whether is be Free Trade or the Financial Crisis.  It has seeped into the IMF and World Bank. It has slithered into every aspect of the planet. Corporations are as corrupt as the MOB. They hold too much power over Governments and people.

Free Trade agreements, the IMF and World Bank help promote their agenda of cheap slave labour,  massive profits and the ability to pollute world wide. They promote privatization of services such as water, education and health care. This all for profit and to the demise of the people.  Oddly enough the because of the Financial Crisis many countries have had to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank and are now at the mercy of their dictatorial agenda.

They of course are apparently seen as the good guys helping out those poor countries in need,  when in fact they are just as usual, promoting more  privatization of their resources. How sweet it is to be in their grasp. Well for the corporations that is, not for the people of the country that had to borrow money. I bet their Cooperate mouths are just watering at the prospect of more profits, at the expense of the countries who were forced to turn to the IMF and World Banks.

Farmers in India who have committed suicide or lost their farms may have something to say about the IMF loan given to India. They sure helped them now didn’t they? The International Monetary Fund was promoting an agenda all right. A corporate agenda, not that of “actually helping the country or it’s people”.

Iceland had to raise their Interest rates to a whopping 18 percent, while the rest of the institutions are lowering them. That was one of the stipulations in the IMF loan, they will receive from the IMF. There is something fishy in that, isn’t there? Gorden Brown treating them as a terrorist is just way out there.  There certainly is something rather strange about it all. One has to wonder what the true agenda is?

A few years back it was well known what was going on. Africa is one of the victims. A classic example of IMF and World Bank pretending to be nice.

A little History Lesson on The World Bank and IMF in Africa

The US Government can whine all they want, they don’t have money for Health Care and Social programs but in fact, if the War machine were ended they would have enough and more to lift many out of poverty and fund social programs.
The total of America’s military bases in other people’s countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737.

The 612 billion war budget is not necessary either.

Instead they have working toward World Domination via  Military Dominance, Free Trade agreements, IMF and the World Bank.  They have pandered to Corperate Greed and Profiteering.  Which in the end causes more poverty, more pollution, more war, more corruption, more death,  more cheap slave labour, more profiteering for the greedy and more hatred towards the United States of America.

NATO and the United Nations have done little to stop the Fascist Agenda.  If anything they have enabled the US.

Should they end the Aid to Israel ? Well much of the aid is earmarked for weapons for one and it destabilizes the Middle East.

Can Obama sort through all of this and find ways to improve the life of US Citizens and the rest of the World?

Sure he could.  It will take time and political will.

Will he and the Government of the US do anything is another story.

The rest of the world also needs to work with Obama to end the War Machine and Cooperate Corruption however.

The Enablers around the world, must also make it clear their agenda of World Domination must end.

Enough is Enough.

If the leaders in the World are to promote anything is should be to improve the lives of it’s citizens,  not the profiteers and war mongers.

Cleaning up the media that sifts out “propaganda” to the American public would also go a long way to helping as well. The American people have the right to know the truth. So does the rest of the world.

The propaganda machine has worked it’s way into much of the media around the world as well.

People want the “truth” not “propaganda” and “lies”.







The World Bank and IMF in Africa

A little History

The World Bank and IMF in Africa

August 2008

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the most powerful international financial institutions in the world. They are the major sources of lending to African countries, and use the loans they provide as leverage to prescribe policies and dictate major changes in the economies of these countries. The World Bank is the largest public development institution in the world, lending over $24 billion in 2007 – of which over $5 billion (or 22 percent) went to Africa.

The World Bank and IMF are controlled by the world’s richest countries, particularly the U.S., which is the main shareholder in both institutions. The World Bank, headquartered in Washington, DC, follows a “one dollar, one vote” system whereby members with the greatest financial contributions have the greatest say in decision making. The U.S. holds roughly 17% of the vote in the World Bank and the 48 sub-Saharan African countries together have less than 9% of the votes. The Group of 7 rich countries (G-7) control 45% of World Bank votes. This system ensures that the World Bank and IMF act in the interest of the rich countries, promoting a model of economic growth (called neo-liberal) that benefits the richest countries and the international private sector.

Over the past two decades, the poorest countries in the world have had to turn increasingly to the World Bank and IMF for financial assistance, because their impoverishment has made it impossible for them to borrow elsewhere. The World Bank and IMF attach strict conditions to their loans, which give them great control over borrower governments. On average, low-income countries are subject to as many as 67 conditions per World Bank loan. African countries, in need of new loans, have had no choice but to accept these conditions.

The World Bank and IMF have forced African countries to adopt “structural adjustment programs” (SAP) and other measures which cut back government spending on basic services. They have required African governments to reduce trade barriers and open their markets, maintaining their economies as sources of cheap raw materials and cheap labor for multinational corporations.

As a result of World Bank and IMF policies, average incomes in Africa have declined, and the continent’s poverty has increased. Africa’s debt crisis has worsened over the past two decades, as the failure of World Bank and IMF intervention has left African countries more dependent than ever on new loans. These institutions have also undermined Africa’s health through the policies they have imposed. Forced cutbacks in spending on health care, and the privatization of basic services, have left Africa’s people more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related diseases.

The policies of the World Bank and IMF have come increasingly under fire, for the negative impact they have had on African countries. But these institutions, and the U.S. and other wealthy countries that control them, refuse to address these concerns. Instead, they continue to use Africa’s debt as leverage to maintain control over the economic policies of African countries. Even as Africa faces the worst health crisis in human history, these institutions insist that debt repayments take priority over spending on the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. African countries continue to spend up to five times more on debt servicing than on health care for their populations.

In response to growing criticism of their policies, the IMF and World Bank have continuously repackaged their structural adjustment programs over the last two decades. In 1999, the institutions began a funding system that requires a country to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which purports to outline programs that will promote growth and reduce poverty over the next several years. Through the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF), which disburses funds, the World Bank and IMF approve and then finance these poverty reduction programs. While the World Bank and IMF claim that this allows greater flexibility for countries receiving assistance, the degree of ownership that countries have in PRSPs is exaggerated. Parliaments and civil society are often excluded from developing and adopting PRSPs.

In 2005, the IMF created the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). PSIs do not provide financial assistance to the countries that choose to participate. Rather, the IMF provides economic policy advice to a country, and then monitors it to determine whether or not the country has earned the IMF’s endorsement. Creditors and donors can then base their decision to offer loans or grants to a country on the IMF’s PSI assessment. In practice, this program continues to enforce IMF economic reforms and compromise the ability of African governments to decide on their development path.

To address the external debt crisis of poor countries, the IMF and World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in September 1996. Designed by creditors, this initiative was intended to extract the maximum in debt repayments from poor countries. It has failed even to meet its stated objective of reducing Africa’s debt burden to a “sustainable” level, and the strict HIPC eligibility requirements prevent many countries from receiving much-needed assistance.

In July 2005, the Group of 8 (G-8) proposed a debt cancellation deal for 18 countries, 14 of which are in Africa. That September, the World Bank and IMF approved this deal through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI grants debt cancellation to countries that meet certain eligibility requirements, including adherence to economic policies and programs that the World Bank and IMF deem satisfactory. As of December 2007, the World Bank and IMF have approved MDRI debt relief for 25 countries, 19 of which are in Africa. Although the MDRI provides some progress on the issue of debt, it still leaves many African countries trapped under the burden of illegitimate debt. Furthermore, it establishes the precedent that future debt cancellation will only be offered to countries that have submitted their economies to the draconian dictates of the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment policies.

The benefits of debt cancellation have been proven repeatedly. While in 2003, Zambia was forced to spend twice as much on debt payments as on health care, partial debt cancellation allowed the government to grant free basic healthcare to its population in 2006. In Benin, more than half of the money saved through debt cancellation has been spent on health. In Tanzania, the newly available funds were used to eliminate primary school fees, increasing attendance by two-thirds. Uganda is currently using the $57.9 million of savings it gained from debt relief in 2006 to improve primary education, energy and water infrastructure, malaria control, and healthcare. Cameroon is using its $29.8 million in savings for poverty reduction, infrastructure improvement, and governance reforms.

Since 2007, there has been talk of the IMF selling its gold reserves to offset its growing administrative budget deficits. In order for the IMF to sell any part of its gold reserves, the sale must be approved by an 85% majority of its members. The United States controls about 17% of this vote, giving it an effective veto over this action. In February 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced that it would support the sale if the IMF takes part in a package of reforms that would put more emphasis on surveillance and financial stability and less on lending.

By law, however, the U.S. Congress must authorize the sale of IMF gold before the U.S. Executive Director may support such a decision. This puts Congress in a unique position to greatly influence the future actions and operations of the IMF. In contrast with Treasury’s modest reform proposal, Congress could seize this opportunity and condition its approval of the IMF’s gold sales on a bold reform agenda that eliminates IMF policies that have restricted investments in health, education and HIV/AIDS spending. Specifically, gold sales should be approved only if the IMF ceases use of overly restrictive deficit-reduction and inflation-reduction targets, eliminates budget ceilings for the health and education sectors and de-links debt cancellation from such harmful macroeconomic conditions. Gold sales could also be used to finance expanded debt cancellation.

African countries must have the power to shape their own economic policies and to determine their own development priorities. This requires the cancellation of all of Africa’s illegitimate external debts, and an immediate end to the harmful policies the World Bank and IMF have imposed in Africa.

Source

South Africa: IMF Can Only Bring Misery

by Trevor Ngwane and George DorThe Sowetan
July 12 2000

Last Friday, Horst Koehler, newly-appointed head of the International Monetary Fund, received a hostile response from the anti-privatisation forum, Jubilee 2000, the campaign against neoliberalism and the South African Communist Party. We are trained to be hospitable in the African tradition, but this was a fair exception.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum includes two campaigns. The first is the anti-Igoli Forum which opposes Johannesburg’s “iGoli 2002” plan to privatise our city. The second is the Wits University Crisis Committee, which opposes a similar strategy, “Wits 2001,” which has led to massive job losses and the decline of arts education at South Africa’s main university.

The campaigns oppose the privatisation of social goods, like water and education, that in a just society should be under the control of communities, workers and students. The unity of our struggles is all the more urgent in view of this week’s Urban Futures Conference, at which the powers behind iGoli 2002 and Wits 2001 are hoping to showcase the sale of our city and our university.

If Horst Koehler thought his visit to South Africa would be widely applauded, he should know that workers, community activists and students in Johannesburg have been protesting his institution for many years.

The last such visit by an IMF leader was in October 1996, when Michel Camdessus came to meet workers, community activists and students, as requested by finance minister Trevor Manuel. But our leadership in Cosatu, Sanco and Sasco boycotted the meeting on grounds that the IMF would do harm to South Africa.

The subsequent events in East Asia, which shamed Camdessus, proved that a firm stand against the IMF was correct. We know that firsthand in our country and our continent, where for more than two decades people have suffered immensely, due to IMF interference.

The IMF made billions of dollars of loans to apartheid South Africa during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our allies in the Jubilee 2000 South Africa movement have demanded that these loans, which were repaid by South African society during one of the most repressive, bloody periods in our history, now in turn be the basis for reparations by the IMF to a democratic South Africa.

During the late 1980s, when the apartheid regime began to sell state assets to white-owned conglomerates and raised interest rates to the highest levels in our history, the IMF was prodding it to do so. The IMF consistently argued that South African workers were overpaid, and that South Africa should implement a Value Added Tax to shift the burden of tax payment further to lower-income people. The apartheid regime generally followed this advice and was applauded by the IMF for doing so.

In December 1993, the IMF granted a US $750 million loan (about R5,1 billion) which was purportedly for drought relief. Actually, the drought had ended eighteen months earlier. The loan carried conditions such as a lowered budget deficit to prevent a new government spending more on social programmes, and lower wages for civil servants. These conditions have subsequently become government policy in the form of Gear. The loan was a secret agreement, only leaked to the business press in March 1994.

Again and again in Southern Africa and across the Third World the IMF’s free-market economic advice and conditions on loans have been disastrous. These disasters have led to a profound crisis of legitimacy for the Washington institution. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the April 2000 New Republic magazine that the IMF is populated by “third-rate economists.”

One reason for the IMF’s crisis of legitimacy is the control exercised by the US government. This power is based on ownership of 18% of the IMF’s shares, enough to veto anything the US disagrees with.

The IMF remains a profoundly undemocratic institution, whose economic policies have been roundly condemned for the misery caused throughout the Third World and especially in East Asia, Russia and Latin America when “emerging market crises” occurred during 1997-99.

The IMF’s fraternal institution, the World Bank, has had an especially obnoxious role in Johannesburg. Bank staff were responsible for a 1995 infrastructure policy which recommended low standards and high prices for household water and electricity, even though the Reconstruction and Development Programme mandated the opposite. Bank staff recommended that low-income households be not given flush toilets but instead use pit-latrines, without considering the public health risks of excrement leaking into Johannesburg’s water table through its dolomitic rock.

When a similar scheme was established in Winterveld in 1991, hundreds of people got cholera as a result.

The Bank also promoted privatisation of municipal services across the country. In Johannesburg, it took the lead on research to promote a one-sided, pro-corporate perspective on iGoli 2002. It is no wonder that the Johannesburg privatisation plan has been renamed “E.Coli 2002”.

For all these reasons, the visit of Horst Koehler and the ongoing role played by the World Bank in Johannesburg represent very serious dangers to poor and working-class people and the environment.

When 30,000 people joined in protest against these institutions, in their hometown Washington DC in April, it was clear they were not listening to us but we all are surprised by how quickly they have followed us back to Johannesburg to do their damage. They must not be allowed to arrange the junk-sale of our university, our city, our country and our continent.

Trevor Ngwane is a Johannesburg councillor and Wits master’s degree student, while George Dor is chairman of the campaign against neoliberalism in South Afric. Both are affiliated to the Alternative Information and Development Centre in Johannesburg.

Source

Is Africa being bullied into growing GM crops?

David Fig

27 June 2007

Africa must not let multinational corporations and international donors dictate its biotechnology agenda, says David Fig.

Africa is rapidly becoming a focal point for multinational crop and chemical corporations clearing the way for the extended uptake of their products and technologies. In particular, African governments are facing enormous pressure to endorse and adopt genetically modified (GM) crops.

Organisations like the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa — bankrolled by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations — are partly to blame through their heavy investment in infrastructure aimed at supporting the development and distribution of GM crops and seeds.

But the African Union (AU) itself is now also encouraging the adoption of GM technology. Working in tandem with its development wing, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the AU’s High Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology is soon to release a Freedom to Innovate plan — the clearest expression yet of the trend to back this controversial and risky technology. And it does so uncritically, rather than taking a more rational precautionary position that would safeguard Africa’s rich biodiversity and agriculture.

The AU is also engaged in efforts to revise the carefully crafted African Model Law on Biosafety, which outlines the biosafety provisions necessary for African environmental conditions.

The revisions emanate from those seeking to make the biosafety content less stringent, placing Africa under even more pressure to conform to the needs of the gene corporations.

Saying no to the GM bandwagon

Support for GM technology, though, is by no means universal across the continent. The AU’s efforts in shaping the Freedom to Innovate plan and model law contrast with the leadership role that the Africa Group took in developing the Cartagena Protocol to ensure more stringent biosafety precautions.

Indeed, a number of African governments and civil society organisations are increasingly speaking out against the pressures from gene companies — and the foundations that back them — to adopt their technologies.

For example Angola, Sudan and Zambia have resisted pressure to accept GM food aid, while nongovernmental groups such as the African Biodiversity Network, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, defend community and farmers’ rights to reject GM seed. At one stage Burkina Faso implemented a moratorium on the planting of GM crops.

The Freedom to Innovate document does little justice to the debate raging around Africa. Instead it seeks to institutionalise the pro-GM position of larger countries like Nigeria and South Africa for the entire continent.

Offering unbiased advice

There is no question that Africa needs technology to develop. But it must be appropriate to a country’s chosen path of development.

New technologies aimed at development must be evaluated in depth by, among others, scientists with no vested interests.

Natural scientists must assess GM technology’s likely impacts on both the environment and human and animal health. Social scientists must also examine the potential socio-economic consequences of such innovation — such as impacts on local food security, trade or indebtedness. Stakeholders, including those who safeguard traditional knowledge, could further enrich such assessment by indicating proven alternatives.

This model of technological assessment could serve Africa very well. It could enable governments to formulate appropriate policies and development priorities.

Most importantly, if a technology is found to be questionable or negative in terms of its impacts — or if there are no clear development benefits to be derived from its adoption — a precautionary mechanism must exist that can delay and carefully regulate its introduction.

The freedom to choose

The Freedom to Innovate plan tries to advocate the idea that all biotechnology benefits Africa and fails to analyse the risks attached to their adoption. While some aspects of modern biotechnology might prove useful in African agriculture, this does not mean that one aspect of this — GM crops — can increase continental food security and farmer prosperity.

GM technology forces Africa into high-input, chemical-dependent agriculture which impacts on biodiversity and creates debt burdens for small farmers.

In addition, the regulatory steps required for control of GM crops are so demanding of resources that, even when other budgetary areas relating to food security may need more pressing attention, Africa is forced to prioritise their set up.

Gene corporations, together with the scientists that work for them, have invested a lot of time, effort and money in developing GM crops. Not surprisingly, they are the ones who propound the idea that transgenic crops can rescue Africa from poverty and underdevelopment.

But Africa must not let itself be bullied into accepting a technology that has yet to prove itself as appropriate for solving the continent’s hunger problems. The AU’s role should be one of providing governments with well-reasoned technological evaluation, rather than acting as a proxy for promoting a specific industry’s commercial needs.

David Fig is an independent environmental policy analyst based in Johannesburg, and a trustee of Biowatch South Africa.

Source

Africa and the IMF: In Defense of Economic Correction

August 6 1993

Regarding “To the World Bank and IMF: Africa Has Its Own Agenda” (Letters, July 1) from Hassan Sunmonu:

The writer, secretary-general of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, suggests that World Bank and IMF-supported economic adjustment programs in Africa have increased African indebtedness and poverty. This assertion flies in the face of the evidence wherever these programs have been carried out in a sustained manner.

It also ignores the fact that the pace of progress achieved has varied across countries, depending on the nature and the severity of the pre-existing economic conditions, the effects at times of unfavorable external developments (such as worsening terms of trade and drought), and domestic political realities.

Mr. Sunmonu calls on the IMF and the World Bank to abandon their “anti-people and anti-development programs,” accept the rights of all countries to formulate their own development plans, give to African governments sovereign authority over their economic policies, withdraw all experts from African central banks and finance ministries, and compensate African countries for the harm done them and write off their debts.

Such extreme views ought not to go unanswered.

IMF-supported macroeconomic and structural adjustment programs aim at helping countries attain higher growth, lower inflation and improved balance of payments and external debt positions. In most cases, the IMF is called upon for assistance when economic imbalances become very severe and growth has slackened, or even turned negative.

In assisting member countries to develop policies to restore economic health, the IMF is, together with the World Bank, helping them direct public spending away from nonessential or unproductive uses, including excessive military spending, to social, infrastructural and other priority needs. It is only through successful stabilization of their economies and determined structural adjustment – to expand supply capacities – that countries will eventually generate resources to promote development and reduce poverty, strengthen debt-servicing capacities and withstand external shocks.

Because the IMF is fully aware that adjustment policies may have temporary adverse effects on some of the poor, it is helping countries design social safety nets and otherwise formulate targeted social programs to assist the poor during periods of adjustment. It takes great care to tailor its macroeconomic policy advice to the individual needs and circumstances of each member country. At the request of several African member countries, the IMF has assigned a small number of resident representatives and technical experts in specific areas.

The IMF currently has committed more than $4 billion under its concessional loan facilities to 30 African countries. Writing off IMF loans to African countries would be counterproductive. IMF loans are drawn from a limited revolving pool of funds, and are made available temporarily to countries in balance of payments needs. If loans were written off, the pool would contract, with the risk of depriving other countries in need – many in Africa – of IMF financing.

I certainly share Mr. Sunmonu’s disappointment at the slow and uneven pace of economic progress in Africa. While those countries with records of determined implementation of strong reform policies have shown progress on growth and inflation, there is still indeed a long way to go. Far too many of the countries that have embarked on programs of economic correction have let them slip at the first hurdle.

MAMOUDOU TOURE,

Director.

African Department.

International Monetary Fund.

Washington.

Director

Source

World Bank pushes Malawi agriculture privatisation

April 5 2004

The World Bank is demanding the privatisation of the Malawian agricultural marketing board as a condition of its latest structural adjustment loan. The way the Bank has manoeuvred to persuade Malawi’s parliament to accept this shows the limits of ‘country ownership’. It also demonstrates key weaknesses in one of the World Bank and IMF’s new tools, Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) studies which are supposed to outline likely consequences of key reforms so as to enable a better debate on policy design. A Malawian civil society campaign coalition which has mobilised against these planned reforms expressed its concern with how the World Bank and other donors have pushed their agenda on this issue “at the expense of the food security of the poor”.

The privatisation of the state marketing board in Malawi (ADMARC) has been an objective of the World Bank for 10 years. It represents a central element in an approach to agriculture that holds that full liberalisation of the sector will be best for poor women and men. This approach has been increasingly questioned in Malawi and other countries in the region, particularly in the context of the recent food crisis. Many commentators believe the full liberalisation of other elements of the agriculture sector under Bank and Fund advice was a major cause of the food crisis and the subsequent deaths in 2002.

Because of the controversy over the proposed reforms, including studies by civil society groups, the Bank agreed to commission a Poverty and Social Impact Analysis. This research showed that ADMARC’s important role in supporting the lives of poor women and men would be destroyed by privatisation. But, presumably embarrassed by the results, the Bank delayed publication of the study for two years, withholding it until just after the Malawian parliament had agreed to the reforms.

In late December 2003 legislation was rushed through a special parliamentary session turning ADMARC into a limited company, the first stage in the privatisation process. This session was boycotted by many MPs, partly because they had already expressed opposition to the privatisation of ADMARC in two previous hearings. Civil society campaigners expressed concern that ADMARC privatisation was being “used as a carrot for grants and loans”. This was borne out by the Bank’s response to the parliamentary vote, a February announcement of a new $50 million structural adjustment credit with the privatisation of ADMARC as one of its conditions.

The civil society and official impact analysis studies agreed that ADMARC is clearly in need of reform, but demonstrate that it plays a vital social role in ensuring market access for the rural poor by running subsidised markets country-wide. These markets would close under privatisation and the small and weak private sector would be unlikely to fill this gap, leaving a dangerous vacuum in service provision that directly threatens people’s livelihoods.

Civil society groups have mobilised to publicise these issues, with a major campaign during 2002 against the privatisation of ADMARC. An active media campaign resulted in a series of high-profile national debates. Parliament was closely involved, and in particular the Agriculture committee which carried out its own analysis showing the harm that privatisation would cause to the poorest.

The decision-making process and its outcome are being declared unacceptable by Malawian civil society groups. They are “demanding that any conditionality regarding ADMARC is immediately removed from the new loan” and encouraging civil society groups in other countries to take action in their support. Groups pushing the Bank to conduct Poverty and Social Impact Analyses will also need to ensure far greater control over the process of commissioning, reviewing and disseminating such studies, to ensure that they enrich debate rather than sit on shelves until the World Bank or IMF browbeat parliamentarians to accept their agendas.

Source

A few years back it was well known what was going on.

50 Years is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice

50 Years Org

Had a Call to Action for Mobilization
in Washington, DC

Reasons being:

For six decades, the World Bank and IMF have imposed policies, programs, and projects that:

  • Decimate women’s rights and devastate their lives, their families, and their communities;
  • Subjugate democratic governance and accountability to corporate profits and investment portfolios;
  • Trap countries in a cycle of indebtedness and economic domination;
  • Force governments to privatize essential services;
  • Put profits before peoples’ rights and needs;
  • Abet the devastation of the environment in the name of development and profit;
  • Institutionalize the domination of the wealthy over the impoverished – the new form of colonialism; and
  • Facilitate corporate agendas through the economic re-structuring of countries enduring conflict and occupation, such as East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In the 60th anniversary year of the IMF and World Bank, we demand the following measures from the institutions and the governments which control them. Add your voice, endorse the demands:

  • Open all World Bank and IMF meetings to the media and the public;
  • Cancel all impoverished country debt to the World Bank and IMF, using the institutions’ own resources;
  • End all World Bank and IMF policies that hinder people’s access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and right to organize. (Such “structural adjustment” policies include user fees, privatization, and economic austerity programs.);
  • Stop all World Bank support for socially and environmentally destructive projects such as oil, gas, and mining activities, and all support for projects such as dams that include forced relocation of people.

We furthermore recognize the urgency of the world’s most catastrophic health crisis, the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We assert the culpability of the international financial institutions in decimating health care systems of Global South countries, and reject the approach of fighting the pandemic with more loans and conditions from these institutions. We call on the world’s governments to best deploy their resources by fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We demand the elimination of trade rules that undermine access to affordable life-saving medications.

Help end global economic injustice driven by the policies and programs of the international financial institutions!

A few Projects Related to Pollution

1. Guinea

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Northern Guinea

The Project aims to reduce occupational health and environmental hazards of artisanal (small-scale) gold mining communities in northern Guinea. The total population of the area covered by the project is estimated at 150,000 of which over 40,000 people are involved every year in gold mining activities. The unregulated burning of mercury amalgam is the primary method for gold extraction. It is widely reported that this method yields 1 kg of gold for every 1.3 kg of mercury employed.

2. Guinea

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Conakry, the capital, is a bustling, colorful and vibrant city of about 2 million struggling with the side effect of urbanization—pollution.
The lack of sewage and water treatment directly impacts human health in the city. Only a fraction of households, primarily in the wealthiest neighborhoods, have reliable access to running water at all, while well water is contaminated by bacteria and parasites. The city has no wastewater treatment facilities, and only 8% of households are connected to a piped municipal sewage system. The overwhelming majority of households have only basic latrines; in better homes, the floor is tiled and the hole is deep. As a result, diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, cholera, and meningitis run rampant.

Major Environmental Concerns

 Air Pollution – From leaded gasoline, automobile exhaust, traffic jams and old cars. Also from fuel sources: charcoal, plastic bags and tires used to cook, and the burning of garbage. Leads to elevated cases of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

 Water pollution – Lack of sanitation services pollutes coastal marine ecosystem, contaminates food supply , increases instance of waterborne diseases (malaria, diarrhea, hepatitis A, poliomyelitis, typhoid, skin diseases, cholera, meningitis), and renders water undrinkable.

 Lack of Infrastructure and Public Services – Residential and commercial garbage collection is just beginning to be put into place. No waste water treatment plant exists, although plans are afoot to install a sewage treatment facility in the western part of town. Human waste, when collected, is disposed of directly into the ocean or local dump.

3. Guinea

PCB Clean-up and Removal

Abandoned PCB capacitors from France, England, Germany and the US have contaminated approximately 3 acres in the center of Conakry. There have been significant observed impacts on human health and the environment because the water is entirely saturated with PCB waste. The black PCB oil runs directly through the site into a shallow channel that empties into the ocean. The site is within 100 yards of a village that relies on the water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

4. Mozambique

Center for Environmental Research and Advocacy

The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, lies on Maputo Bay. City residents rely on considerable amounts of fishery resources, both for consumption and economic reasons. Maputo Bay beaches also serve many residents and tourists as a leisure spot throughout the year. Yet despite its beauty, there is growing evidence that the waters inside the bay are polluted by untreated sewage coming from new developments in the city that are not connected to the existing sewage and drainage facility and water treatment plant.Groundwater contamination from pit latrines and storm water effluent is polluting the bay to the extent that swimming is inadvisable in all but the most distant areas of the bay. The Ministry of Health tests fecal coliform levels regularly, and there is a general ban on the consumption of shellfish from the bay.

5. Mozambique

Environmental Journalists Group

Although pollution from industry, automobiles and domestic waste continue to adversely affect the quality of life in Maputo and in Mozambique in general, the majority of the population lacks education and awareness of pollution issues and their relation to human health. A lack of public debate on the subject means a general lack of pressure on relevant institutions to act where human health is threatened by pollution contamination. The media, and especially the radio, is an important source of environmental information and education due to national coverage and transmission in local languages.

6. Mozambique

Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Manica, Mozambique

This project seeks to contribute to the reduction of occupational health hazards of small-scale gold miners in the Manica District of Mozambique by promoting the use of mercury retorts, while at the same time leading to overall reduction of environmental degradation in the region. Manica is a district of Mozambique in the Manica Province with a population of 155,731 people. Manica District borders with the Republic of Zimbabwe in the west, the District of Gondola in the east, the District of Barué to the north through the Pungué River, and the District of Sussundenga in the south, which is bounded by the Revué and Zonué Rivers. In the Manica District of Mozambique, more than 10,000 people are directly and indirectly involved in artisanal (small-scale) gold mining activities (garimpagem) as their main source of income.

7. Mozambique

Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

Mozambique, like many other developing countries, uses leaded gasoline. While the adverse health effects of lead have been well-documented and many of the world’s countries have either completely phased out use of leaded gasoline or lowered lead concentrations, Africa remains as a bastion of leaded gasoline use. The primary lead exposure pathway is via airborne lead and lead in dust and soil. In congested urban areas vehicle exhaust from leaded gasoline accounts for some 90 percent of airborne lead pollution.

8. Senegal

AfricaClean

Air pollution in Dakar, the capital, is a source of concern for local authorities. Large quantities of atmospheric pollutants emitted by vehicles are starting to pose serious environmental and public health problems, especially for the most vulnerable population (children, pregnant women, people suffering from diseases and respiratory complications such as: tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancers, bronchitis, asthmas, and allergies). Common pollutants emitted are: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and suspended particles.

9. Senegal

Baia de Hanne, Senegal

This project takes the first steps to initiate the clean up of the most polluted region of Senegal – Hann Bay. The bay wraps around the industrial zone of the city of Dakar, Senegal. It is highly populated area, with local residents bathing in the water, and numerous fishing boats along the crowded shore. Industrial pollution along the banks from 1968 – 1997 has rendered the bay exceedingly toxic. This work will fund and support a group both within the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Environment to create a credible implementation plan that will install an industrial waste treatment plan for the factories of the Hann region. Once the effluent treatment plant is in operation, work can begin to remediate legacy contamination from historical toxins.

10. Swaziland

Bulembu Legacy Asbestos Mines

Havelock is a town on the northwest border of Swaziland and is home to one of the world’s largest asbestos mines, which is now closed. The town and mine are dominated by Bulembu, Swaziland’s highest peak. The asbestos mine in Bulembu operated from 1939 to 2001 and was closed without rehabilitation of the environment. The mine dumpsite has contaminated the Nkomazi River and poses a grave contamination risk to the multi-million dollar Maguga dam, which is about ten kilometers away. Huge fiber-rich dumps dwarf the school, which is less than 200 meters from the old mill.

11. Tanzania

ENVIPRO

EnviPro is an environmental engineering NGO working on a project in the neighborhood of Vingunguti, in Dar es Salaam, to manage waste effluent from Vingunguti Abattoir, a local slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse is dumping waste directly into the Msimbazi River, posing a significant health risk to residents of Dar es Salaam and surrounding areas, and EnviPro has designed a plan to install a wastewater treatment program for the plant.

12. Tanzania

Environmental Management Trust

Mikocheni, a neighborhood in Dar es Salaam, is home to four heavily polluted streams that run directly into the Indian Ocean. Untreated industrial and domestic waste is dumped into the waterways upstream, or into storm drains. Environmental Management Trust (EMT) is undertaking a project to monitor and stop this pollution of marine habitats and breaches. The project goals are to make wastewater treatment mandatory for all polluting industries, to stop residential houses from releasing waste from septic tanks into streams, and to ensure that sewers, storm drains and pumping stations are properly maintained to prevent leaks into the stream.

13. Tanzania

Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out, Tanzania

The government of Tanzania has developed a leaded gas phase-out action plan and it was discussed at a national stakeholders’ meeting in Dar es Salaam in September, 2003. The country’s planned phase-out of leaded gasoline is part of a larger initiative to ban the use of leaded gasoline in Sub Saharan Africa, as stated in the Dakar Declaration of 2001.

14. Tanzania

Msimbazi River Action Network

The Msimbazi River flows across a third of Dar es Salaam City and eventually discharges into the Indian Ocean. The river is an important water resource for residents of some of Dar es Salaam’s poorest neighborhoods. Residents use the water in various ways – for drinking, bathing, support for agriculture and industry, and as an environmental buffer. Nevertheless, many industries continue to pour unwanted end products from human and industrial activity into the river, threatening most of its functional benefits, and even its usefulness as an irrigation source.

The Msimbazi River Action Network (MRAN) brings together current Blacksmith partners (EMT, Envipro and LEAT) in an effort to organize clean-up and oversight activities focused on the Msimbazi River in Dar es Salaam. This network connects community and government representatives with the aim of minimizing industrial and domestic pollution sources on the river, and to protect the over 100,000 people living on the river from heavy metal contamination as well as deadly diseases such as cholera.

15. Tanzania

Pollution Prevention in Lake Victoria

The Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) works in Mwanza and surrounding regions with community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the Mwanza City Council to identify problems and educate both polluters and victims of pollution about environmental laws. LEAT also conducts public interest litigation to force the cessation of polluting activities by both local factories and Mwanza City authorities. And LEAT works with surrounding towns and villages affected by polluting industries. Village and municipal leaders and residents have been educated about existing environmental laws used to combat environmental pollution, and they have been briefed on the Village Land Act of 1999 which stipulates rights of villagers regarding their land and other natural resource laws.

16. Zambia

Advocacy and Restoration of the Environment

Zambia is a land-locked country in Central/Southern Africa with a population of about 10 million people. About 1.25 million people inhabit the capital, Lusaka, with another 2 million in the northern Copperbelt region. Major pollution-related problems are due to mining and industrial waste. In 2001, Blacksmith Institute helped to found ARE, an NGO focusing on a heavily polluted industrial area on the Kafue River. The Kafue River, part of the Zambezi basin, is a source of potable water for over forty percent of Zambia’s population. It is also host to wildlife and birds. For decades, industries such as copper mines, metallurgical plants, textile plants, fertilizer factories, sugar processing plants, cement factories, various agricultural activities, and the Kafue Sewage Treatment Plant (KSTP) have polluted the river. Mineral deposits, chemicals, and suspended solids have led to overgrowth of aquatic weeds, choking river life. The continuous discharge of raw sewage into the Kafue River from the KSTP has contributed to the steady supply of nutrients (ortho-phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, etc.) ensuring the proliferation of various types of weeds, like the Salvina molesta, thereby causing eutrophication. Both aquatic life and human health are in danger. High incidences of environmentally mediated disease, such as gastro-enteritis, intestinal worms, and diarrhea diseases mostly in children have been reported from communities around the river and have been linked to drinking water from certain parts of the river. The raw sewer pollution of Kafue River could inadvertently lead to outbreaks of epidemics like cholera.

Bata Tannery uses various chemicals in tanning animal skins. Amongst these chemicals is chromium sulfate, which can easily be converted to either hexavalent or trivalent chromium. The effect of these chemicals on human and aquatic life is potentially lethal. Equally, the yeast production from Lee Yeast results in high concentrations of both chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater. The net effect is the reduction in the river system’s oxygen concentration, leading to toxic anaerobic conditions.

17. Zambia

Kabwe Environmental Rehabilitation Foundation

For almost a century, Kabwe, a city of 300,000 in Zambia, has been highly contaminated with lead from a government-owned lead mine and smelter, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). Although the mine has been closed since 1994, residents continue to get sick and die from the contamination due to a lack of cleanup efforts on the part of the company and the government.

Lead is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to humans. When breathed in, lead directly attacks the central nervous system. It is particularly damaging to infants and children, and can cross the mother’s placenta, putting unborn and nursing infants at risk. Yet, remarkably, the citizens of Kabwe have until recently been completely unaware that they are living in one of the most poisoned cities on earth. Blacksmith founded a local NGO, Kabwe Environmental and Rehabilitation Foundation (KERF), that has been bringing educational services to the community on how to limit exposure to lead, and nursing support for those who are ill.

18. Zambia

Kabwe Lead Mines

Kabwe, the second largest city in Zambia with a population of 300,000, is located about 130km north of the nation’s capital, Lusaka. It is one of six towns situated around the Copperbelt, once Zambia’s thriving industrial base. In 1902, rich deposits of potentially dangerous lead were discovered in the mine and smelter located in the center of the town. Ore veins with lead concentrations as high as 20 percent have been mined deep into the earth and a smelting operation was set up to process the ore. Mining and smelting operations were running almost continuously up until 1994 without the government addressing the potential danger of lead. The mine and smelter, owned by the now privatized Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines, is no longer operating but has left a city with poison and toxicity from deadly concentrations of lead in the soil and water.

During the operation there were no pollution laws regulating emissions from the mine and smelter plant. In turn, air, soil, and vegetation were all subjected to contamination, and ultimately, over some decades, millions of human lives were also affected. Some recent findings reveal the extent to which one of the most potent neurotoxins to man, lead, has affected the health of Kabwe citizens. In the U.S., normal blood levels of lead are less than10 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter). Symptoms of acute poisoning occur at blood levels of 20 and above, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and leading to muscle spasms and kidney damage. Levels of over ten are considered unhealthy and levels in excess of 120 can often lead to death. In Kabwe, blood concentrations of 300 micrograms/deciliter have been recorded in children and records show average blood levels of children range between 60 and 120 mcg/dl.

Children that play in the soil and young men that scavenge the mines for scraps of metal are most susceptible to lead produced by the mine and smelter. A small waterway runs from the mine to the center of town and had been used to carry waste from the once active smelter. There is no restriction to the waterway, and in some instances local children use it for bathing. In addition to water, dry and dusty backyards of workers’ houses are a significant source of contamination for the locals. One of the most common ways that workers and residents become exposed to toxic levels of lead is through inhalation of contaminated soil ingested through the lungs.

19. Zambia

Maamba Coal Mines

The only coal mine in Zambia is located in Maamba where coal is extracted by open-pit quarrying. Since 1967 coal has been continuously produced by the Maamba Collieries in Southern Zambia near Lake Kariba. Although it has a production capacity of one million tons of coal per year, actual production is less than half this capacity.

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And this Happened in India

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

(Jamaica) IMF decimating one country after another

Once in debt you are their slaves. They go in destroy the agriculture and make your country depend on their subsidised food imports. What happens if they decide not to provide the food? Mass famine or should I say mass depopulation.

Added November 3 2009

Life and Debt is a feature-length documentary which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country such as Jamaica.

Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.

4 Videos detailing the problems

Cause and affect.

Network Platform & Demands to the IMF and World Bank at 50 years is enough