May 21, 2014   |   Nick Bernabe
Nick Bernabe | The Anti-Media
We’ve all seen that comment, “Monsanto has done more to end world hunger than any of you”, but that slogan is not based on sound science; rather it’s the result of a $50 million dollar ad campaign launched after a Time magazine cover story christened GMO food as “Grains of Hope” on Aug 7, 2000. Thumbnail credit: gmo-awareness.com
After reading deeper and doing some research, it becomes clear that GMO crops are not solving the world’s hunger problems, contrary to Monsanto’s claims on it’s website that they are working to “mitigate hunger once and for all.”
Further reading of the Op-Ed by Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant titled ‘Let’s End World Hunger’ reveals nothing but empty rhetoric and the push for CEOs and NGOs to work together with governments in the third world to gift away the problem of world hunger by making more charitable donations from rich people to governments. The Monsanto CEO doesn’t even mention his products when talking about ending world hunger, because he knows there is no real science to back up these marketing tactics.
An in-depth paper from MIT about solving world hunger in 2014 came to this conclusion about GMO crops:
“Other technologies available have fewer scientific unknowns, less possibility of forming cycles of farmer debt, and have led to equally significant reductions in hunger. Integrated pest management, organic farming, and other improved farming practices may increase yields just as effectively as would introducing transgenic organisms. As such, we will not promote their widespread use until more research has been done on long term health effects, GMO seeds are available outside of corporate agriculture control, the biological effects of gene insertion are better understood, and research confirms that the presence of GMOs will not harm the native species in an ecosystem.”
The anti-science rhetoric that is hatched up in biotech marketing departments is beginning to come under scrutiny as Monsanto’s ‘Golden Rice’, which was supposed to prevent blindness in 350,000 children and prevent the premature death of 1 million more, has all but failed to deliver on all of it’s promises. As John Robbins at the Huffington Post brilliantly puts it:
“For one thing, we’ve learned that golden rice will not grow in the kinds of soil that it must to be of value to the world’s hungry. To grow properly, it requires heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides — expensive inputs unaffordable to the very people that the variety is supposed to help. And we’ve also learned that golden rice requires large amounts of water — water that might not be available in precisely those areas where Vitamin A deficiency is a problem, and where farmers cannot afford costly irrigation projects.
And one more thing — it turns out that golden rice doesn’t work, even in theory. Malnourished people are not able to absorb Vitamin A in this form. And even if they could, they’d have to eat an awful lot of the stuff. An 11-year-old boy would have to eat 27 bowls of golden rice a day in order to satisfy his minimum requirement for the vitamin.”
Manipulative ad campaigns have made people who oppose GM crops out to be anti-science environmental zealots willing to starve the world for their selfish want for organic produce. But who is actually anti-science when it comes to the GMO debate? Science is about questioning the official narrative and challenging the status-quo to allow these perceived societal norms such as GM foods to be properly vetted. If the pro-GMO crowd calls the anti-GMO crowd anti-science for questioning the safety and use of these products and practices, then they don’t have the slightest clue of what science really is.
On the heels of a UN report stating that small-scale and organic farming was needed instead of large scale commercial farming to lower world hunger rates, a new study has shown that Europe’s non-GMO farming techniques have produced higher yields than their ‘conventional’, GM, and pesticide treated American counterparts.
In a summary of the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, it was found that:
“The combination of non-GM seed and management practices used by Western Europe is increasing corn yields faster than the use of the GM-led package chosen by the US,”
Global Research looks further into the study, finding:
“The research showed rapeseed (canola) yields increasing faster in Europe without GM than in the GM-led package chosen by Canada; and is decreasing chemical herbicide and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, all this whilst chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed.”
What is clear is that GMOs are not the answer to world hunger, empowering people in third world countries and under served people in rich countries to produce their own food is the answer. Even the UN report on food access states that the world needs a ‘paradigm shift’ towards localized sustainable food systems.
The underlying issue in this whole debate on hunger is not that we aren’t producing enough food, it’s that people are simply too poor to buy it. Americans throw away nearly half of the food grown to feed us, while 1 in 6 go hungry in America every day. The hunger problem isn’t isolated to underdeveloped countries as many would think, it’s a real and growing problem is the first world as well. We should not be trying to figure out a way to produce more large crops in a small space by using GMOs and debilitating chemical pesticides, we should be finding out why the world’s economic system is producing so many poor people.
So while Monsanto runs around claiming to feed the world with it’s magical GMO seeds and related pesticides that can do no wrong, the real fight for food sovereignty and freedom is going on right now all over the world as innovators, co-ops, farmers, and entrepreneurs build the sustainable food systems of today and tomorrow, organically and decentralized.
One such innovator is Growing Power, a non-profit in Wisconsin.