Dear Bill and Melinda Gates,
Your generosity for supporting initiatives in education, world health and population, and community has gained worldwide recognition. However, your recent announcement that you are donating $25m for research in GM food nutrition is based on some fallacious premises and will work against your stated mission and world-wide interest.
Your investment ignores scientific evidence on the actual and potential risks of GMO and the benefit of superior alternatives (The Case for a GM Free Sustainable World, Independent Science Panel on GM). Citizens worldwide have shown a preference for alternatives such as biodiversity-based organic agriculture. Your contribution is thus NOT working for a safe and healthy nutrition, but is working AGAINST science and democracy. We are strongly urging you to withdraw your $25m to support a failing genetic engineering industry that is making false claims on improving nutrition
The claim that Genetic Engineering is improving nutrition is scientifically flawed. GM potato is claimed to contain 45% more protein than traditional potatoes. The protein content of the ordinary potato is 1.6 grams per 100 grams. That is still nothing compared to 14.7gms of protein in100gm in Amaranth, or in peas (24.1 gm/100gm) or lentils (25.1 gm/100gm). According to Ramesh Bhat and S. Vasanthi of the National Institute of Nutrition at Hyderabad, to meet the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein from GM potatoes alone, the children would need to consume 1.5 kg of potatoes per day!
The infamous Golden Rice would never solve Vitamin A deficiency because it only contains 30 microgram of Vit. A per 100 grams ofgrain. It is far more inferior compared to carrots (217-434 mcg/100mg), spinach (600mcg) or radish leaves (750mcg). In fact, one would have to consume 9 kg of cooked rice everyday to reach the RDA. Whereas eating 2 carrots a day would more than satisfy the recommendation.
Evidence from around the world, again and again confirms the failure of GM crops to deliver their promises. In 2002, the first commercial planting of Bt cotton in India was wiped out while non-GM varieties performed well, leaving GM planting farmers facing serious financial losses. A recent report from the UK field experiment clearly proved that GM crops significantly reduce wildlife, and they also find that contamination through pollination is many times higher than it was > anticipated. (The Farm Scale Evaluations of spring-sown genetically modified crops, UK). Scientific evidences all point the uncertainty and instability of genetic engineering. Moreover, no research has been conducted to determine the long-term effect of GM crops on our health and the ecosystem.
By supporting GM food, the industries and agencies that are pushing it undemocratically, you are threatening the choice of citizens around the world to have safe food. Only four countries are growing genetically modified crops, with the US accounting for over 75%. And across the world, only one company, Monsanto, accounts for 93% of GM crops grown. Most people still firmly reject this technology. More than 35 countries, including the entire European Union have taken precautionary steps by restricting the growing and importation of GM foods, and requiring labeling of all foods with genetically modified ingredients. Many regions and cities around the world have even banned or imposed a moratorium on GMOs. Your funding of GM, in effect, is creating a subsidy for Monsanto and undermining people's choice.
By investing in GM food, you are increasing farmers' dependency on corporate agribusiness, threatening food security and biodiversity. Because of this dependency, many farmers are locked into high debts and as a result, farmer suicides, especially in developing countries, are increasing at an alarming rate. There are no socio-economic > benefit in GM crops because of the expensive seed costs and royalties (Field Work: Weighing up the Costs and Benefits of GM Crops Strategy Unit of the Cabinet Office, UK). Instead of working for the interest of public good, you are favoring the interests of corporate agribusinesses.
Millions of farmers around the world have demonstrated that they can produce sufficient nutritious food in a sustainable manner, without GMOs. 208 sustainable agriculture projects in 52 developing countries have shown productivity increases from 50 to 100%. (Reducing Food Poverty by Increasing Agriculture Sustainability in Developing Countries, J. N. Pretty et al.). If you really care about improving the health and nutrition of 3rd world communities we urge you to use your money to directly support small farmer-centered programs for biodiversity conservation and agro-ecology.
Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.
Mae-wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society (I-SIS)
Caroline Lucas, Member of the European Parliament, Green Party, UK
Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology
Beth Burrows, Edmonds Institute ,
Philip L.Bereano, University of Washington
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Californians for GE Free Agriculture
Center for Ethics and Toxics (CETOS)
Organic Consumers Asssociation