The World Food Prize is said to be the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. To many, it is the most prestigious prize in food and agriculture. Their mandate is to emphasize “the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.” The 2013 World Food Prize has gone to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley. Mr Fraley is responsible for the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The choice for the recipient of the World Food Prize has invoked a response by the 81 Councillors of the World Future Council. The World Future Council aspires to bring the interests of future generations to the centre of policy making. Obviously a difficult task, as it is clear that policy with regards to global matters is made by governments who are influenced and controlled by certain groups of multinational corporations (like Monsanto). Members of the World Future Council include an array of doctors, scientists, researchers and global activists that have come together for a great cause. Members include Dr. Vandana Shiva, Jaane Goodall, Shawn Atleo and many more. It is a very impressive list and you can view it in its entirety here.
The council outlines a number of reasons for their outrage, outlining several reasons to illustrate that GMO seeds undermine sustainability in several ways.
While profitable to the few companies producing them, GMO seeds reinforce a model of farming that undermines sustainability of cash-poor farmers, who make up most of the world’s hungry. GMO seeds continue their dependency on purchased seed and chemical inputs. The most dramatic impact of such dependency is in India, where 270, 000 farmers, many trapped in debt for buying seeds and chemicals, committed suicide between 1995 and 2012. GMOs also threaten sustainability because they continue agriculture’s dependence on diminishing and damaging fossil fuels and mined minerals, as well as water. (1)
This award not only communicates a false connection between GMOs and solutions to hunger and agricultural degradation, but it also diverts attention from truly “nutritious and sustainable” agroecological approaches already proving effective, especially in the face of extreme weather. The Rodale Institute, for example, found in its 30-year study, that organic methods outperformed chemical farming during drought years by as much as 31 percent. Organic methods can use 45 percent less energy and produce 40 percent less greenhouse gases.(1)
Note that the World Food Prize mandate is also to recognize contributors to food “for all people” but GMO seeds make this goal harder to reach. Most GM crops are used for feed, for livestock, processed food, or fuel – products not accessible to hungry people. Moreover, the planet already produces more than enough food for all; yet today 870 million people still suffer from extreme, long-term undernourishment because they lack power to access adequate food . Developed and controlled by a handful of companies, genetically engineered seeds further the concentration of power and the extreme inequality at the root of this crisis of food inaccessibility. Monsanto, for example, controls 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop and 80 percent of its corn crop and cotton crop.(1)
The 2013 World Food Prize goes against the growing international consensus of safe, ecological farming practices that have been scientifically shown to promote nutrition and sustainability. A large majority of governments around the wold have already rejected GMOs, and as many as two million citizens from over 50 countries recently marched in opposition to GMOs and Monsanto. The rejection by the impressive group at the World Future Council is the icing on the cake. Many people all over the world are aware of the evidence that shows GMOs are not safe or that we certainly don’t know enough about them.
Our voices are undoubtedly being heard, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the global elite don’t want to listen, and continue to embark on a campaign to ignore the obvious and sway mass public opinion. How can an award like this be given out to a Monsanto executive when it is clear that GMOs are not in the best interest of humanity? It’s no coincidence that Monsanto and other biotechnology Giant, Dupont and the Rockefeller foundation are major sponsors of the World Food Prize (2).