Monsanto Labeled the "Worst Global Terrorist" at Asia Conference for Food Safety
Monsanto Investing News web page.
By Suria Prakash and Jennifer Mourin
Genetic Engineering - corporate tool for food security erosion and
enslavement of farmers.
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific's Safe Food
Campaign 1998 was launched at the Asia Pacific People's Assembly in
Kuala Lumpur by a panel of scientists, health, environmental and
consumer activists. The theme of the Campaign, "Say NO! to Genetic
Engineering in agriculture and food production", aimed to debunk
corporate propaganda that genetic engineering was the panacea for
all our food needs into the next century. There is ever increasing
evidence that this technology has more problems than solutions for
Launching the campaign, Sarojeni Rengam said "genetically engineered
foods involved too many problems and unresolved issues, and these
issues were of concern to the whole of Asia. This was because more
and more genetically engineered foods were being imported into Asian
countries, ostensibly to meet the food needs of the region.
"We can feed ourselves without genetically engineered foods", she
said. "It is an unnecessary technology. Our farmers do not want
it, our consumers do not need it". Only agrochemical and seed
corporations will benefit from it.
PAN Asia and the Pacific is collaborating with its network partners
in the region to carry out this campaign. "Growing concern over
these 'miracle' foods and the lack of information has prompted
coordinated action over this issue", said Jennifer Mourin, the
Campaign coordinator. "Corporate dominance of our food production
is being propelled by trade liberalization via trade blocks like
APEC, and free trade agreements like the GATT. This calls for
concerted action against genetically engineered foods in the
region," she said.
The panel of experts, which included Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dr. Micheal
Hansen, Dr. Romeo Quijano, Barbara Dinham and Mika Iba, talked
about how genetically engineered food was being forced upon
countries by corporations and the various issues involved.
Dr. Vandana Shiva said Monsanto, which was the biggest player in the
game, was the "worst global terrorist". It was forcing the
"hazardous food" on all countries, using tremendous pressure and
misleading promotional campaigns. Monsanto has, in fact, "held the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration captive", she stated. "It is a
terrorist in not allowing people to have the food they want, by
refusing to segregate genetically engineered food crops and to
label genetically engineered foods. And through force, coercion
and terror, Monsanto is trying to control the world's food
production but we must try to make the food system more democratic
by relating closely with farmers".
She also said that, significantly, insurance companies were refusing
to cover liability on genetically engineered foods, which reflected
on its safety. The trade agreements do not talk about liabilities.
"We must force the exporting countries to accept liabilities. If
there is no liability, there is no trade or biosafety protocol,
Dr. Michael Hansen, of the New York based Consumer Policy Institute
warned that genetically engineered foods can cause severe,
potentially fatal, allergies. Genetically modified peanuts, dairy
products and shellfish were particularly dangerous, and there have
been tested cases of allergy from soyabeans. "Without labelling,
it is even impossible to trace what food you are reacting to.
Europe and India are demanding labelling, and other countries
should put pressure".
"One of the greatest dangers of genetically engineered foods is the
development of antibiotic resistance in consumers because of the
antibiotic maker genes used in the process of modifying genes", he
said. This is particularly worrisome in the context of the already
increasing antibiotic resistance in the case of several infections
diseases. Genetically engineered crops could also cause ecological
disruptions as the modified genes can cross-over to other,
non-engineered crops, creating 'superweeds'.
As resistance to genetically engineered foods mounts in the US and
Europe, "there is a danger that it will be dumped on the South", he
warned. There were already 'significant imports' of soyabean in
countries such as Singapore and South Korea.
In Europe, anger caused among the people by the 'mad cow' disease
has been stoked further by genetically engineered foods, said
Barbara Dinham, of the Pesticides Trust based in London. "There is
resistance in Europe because consumers feel genetically engineered
foods are unsafe and their effects irreversible". One food chain
in England has refused to buy genetically engineered foods. And
there are movements opposing the import of genetically engineered
foods and the planting of genetically engineered crops, which may
force the European Commission to rethink its stand on these
Health and environmental activist, Dr. Romeo Quijano pointed out
that small and poor farmers in the Asian region will be affected by
the monopoly corporate control of genetically engineered seeds
through patents. "This will worsen their dependence", he said.
"Governments in the region are collaborators in pushing genetically
engineered crops. National committees to regulate genetically
engineered crops and foods are actually facilitating their entry
instead of regulating. And there are no safety or toxicological
In Asia, most countries look up to Japan in matters of food issues,
but Mika Ika said Japan did not have statutory regulation of
genetically engineering foods, and there was also a lack of
information. "There are only voluntary safety guidelines, and much
of the information comes from Monsanto itself". In fact, the US
Department of Agriculture, which has a high stake in promoting
genetically engineered foods, had been leading 'intensive
education' programmes on the safety of genetically engineered foods
in Japan. Japanese consumers are now demanding labelling of
genetically engineered foods, she said.
As part of the Campaign, PAN AP had also organized a lecture tour of
Dr Hansen to several countries in Asia, including Thailand. One
major outcome of his trip there came on November 6 when the Thai
Biotec Centre admitted that "genetically engineered foods and
agricultural products may pose a health hazard." Dr. Suthat
Sriwathanapong (National Centre for Genetic Engineering and
Technology, said to protect consumers against this possible health
risk, the Thai Food and Drug Administration should issue a more
comprehensive rule to regulate genetically engineered drugs and
The issues of genetic engineering as a tool of corporate control
over our resources, increasing farmers dependency on foreign
technological inputs, and threats to human health and environment
will be discussed at the Forum on Land, Food Security and
From: email@example.com (PAN Asia Pacific) (by way of firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark