Date: 14 Apr 2000 09:30:05 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins" firstname.lastname@example.org
This article deals with lateral gene transfer in bacteria, many of the regulators of GM crops are in a state of denial about the existence or importance of such knowledge.
By David M. Faguy and W. Ford Doolittle
Trends in Genetics, 2000, 16:5:196-197, Genome analysis, Vol. 16, No. 5, May 2000
There is no abstract for this article. The text below is the first paragraph of text within the article.
The data from genome sequencing projects has had an immediate and major impact on our view of prokaryotic evolution: it has revealed the importance and prevalence of lateral gene transfers (LGTs), which have been discussed in many recent analyses and commentaries 1-7 . LGT, by implication, challenges the very existence of an evolutionary classification of prokaryotes. Other implications are less clear but, undoubtedly, we must consider lateral transfer when examining the evolutionary history of any prokaryote. We describe here evidence for transfer between Archaea and Bacteria of catalase-peroxidase genes involved in oxidation protection. This transfer might have been important in the virulence development of the major human pathogens Escherichia coli O157, Yersinia pestis, and Legionella pneumophila.
© 1998-2000 BioMedNet. All rights reserved. email: email@example.com.
Date: 14 Apr 2000 11:22:06 +0100
From: wytze firstname.lastname@example.org
See original article "Botany and Biotechnology"
A note from the Editor:
I have included the article because it demonstrates the argumentation of Pro-GE academics defending their backyard. There is no respect for Nature and creation. But a lot of rethorical tricks, belitteling and omission of unwanted side-effects, subtle slamming and quite some arrogance (we are the masters of creation!).
Dear Renu and all,
I had forwarded your mail to another list and this reply came to it: regards
Author: Professor Anthony Trewavas. FRS FRSE.
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3 JH Scotland.
And Anthony Trewavas replied on an other list:
By Anthony Trewavas FRS, Edinburgh University, Scotland
A recent article "A Tale of Two Botanies" was published by Wired. The article, written by Hunter Lovins, a sociologist and lawyer and I assume in collaboration with Amory Lovins a physicist, contained many serious factual errors about plant biology. When writers cross the boundaries beyond their specialised knowledge, simple errors are to be expected. There are at least 24 minor errors in "Two Botanies", but serious errors cannot be passed without correction.
I have written this article to counteract the bleak and corrosive anti-knowledge flavour of "Tale of Two Botanies" which sits badly with the educational achievements of the author. Lovins does not like genetic manipulation or engineering and indeed castigates plant scientists who do. The Lovins also possess a romantic and frankly unreal view of nature, ecology and the world in which they live. This is not uncommon for those with little real experience of what they discuss.
I am a plant biologist. I became a plant biologist from love of the organism, from the statuesque command and awe inspired by large trees, the exquisite beauty and wonder invoked by so many flowers, the intricate complexity of the flora of the smallest piece of wilderness landscape. 40 years of plant biology in a university has given me a perspective, worlds away from Lovins. I am no adherent of commercialisation or patenting of plants or DNA. But this is the real world in which we currently live. If you don't like it, change the economics; don't demean the knowledge.
I also have a social conscience that says that priorities are feeding people. People first, environment second. God created man in his own image and that enjoined us to be creative in turn. Was that genetic engineering? What solution does "The Tale" offer to the extra four billion souls expected by 2050? Deep ecologists regard man as a pollutant; their solution mass starvation. But along with John Dunne I find that completely unacceptable, "Every man's death diminishes me because I am part of mankind".
Opponents of GM state that GM organisms, when released, can never be recalled. If true it should apply to any crop plant, GM or not. Ever since domestication started and we decided to breed plants for our benefit, there has been an exchange of genes between wild relatives left behind and the plant species we evolved for food, timber and clothes.
The plants we create for our benefit contain genes of little use to their wild relatives. When we reduced the height of wheat and rice and increased yield, changed seed dormancy and life cycle times, some of those genetic changes would have hybridised their way into a few weedy relatives; but only as long as the crop continued in the field. When left on their own, such hybrids quickly disappear in the struggle for existence. Nature is indeed unforgiving.
Weediness is a complex genetic trait, honed by millions of years of evolution and one we cannot make more vigorous. Lovins speculates that "Common crops can hybridise with completely unrelated weeds". If Hunter Lovins had real instead of hypothetical experience with plants such a serious blunder would never have been made. There are natural species barriers that ensure corn can only reproduce with other corn plants or occasionally with a related weed like teosinte from which corn was evolved five thousand years ago.
The risk that some GMO's might have detrimental effects on the environment must be balanced against the certainty that more conventional methods will ensure greater damage. Perceptions of gene exchange risks must be tempered by an understanding that all populations are made of mutant variants; we are awash in a sea of natural, mutant variants. Each of the 250,000 higher plant species is represented by billions of individuals, none of which are genetically identical to any other.
Genetic exchange between wild and domesticated populations is a natural but low frequency event, the genetic engineering that humans perform is comparatively insignificant. Unsurprisingly, our domesticated crops no longer survive in fallow fields; they cannot compete with the vigour of weeds, just as a chihuahua would not survive long in the company of wolves.
Lovins contrasts "natures wisdom" and "peoples cleverness" implying the former is good and the latter bad. Is this not yet another version of original sin? Is it not similar in view to those who say mankind's synthetic pesticides are damaging, natures pesticides are not? At its basic, such views derive from fear of scientific advance and sensitivity to risk; it is an attitude in which humanity is belittled, visions of the future are bleak, human development is endangered and experimentation is castigated. Our ultimate resource is human cleverness.
It has brought us long life, freedom from want, cures for disease and reached to the edge of the universe. When problems develop we must rise to the challenge; not try to set the world in unchanging aspic or even reverse history. Things that do not change are dead; that is the bleak future offered by those who think nature's wisdom supersedes people's cleverness.
Romanticised views of the past, of some supposed golden nirvana where peasant mankind lived in equity with his environment, are stories for gullible minds and do not square with the known realities for such peoples of premature death, hunger, cold and frequent crippling disease. How many of us given a choice would reject GM technology in favour of natural starvation. Are natural things (like typhoons, child death, disease, poison ivy, the heroin poppy) good and pure whilst man-made (wine, the internet, electricity, antibiotics, anaesethics, etc) bad?
GM opponents like Lovins have created a new God. It is called the system or ecology and the term 'holism' is its benediction. Any attempt to reduce the system to its components, to understand its mechanism or to rebalance natural hazards in favour of mankind is the ultimate blasphemy since the system is apparently an unbreakable whole. But without reduction you would never know you have a system in the first place. So- called reductionism and systems properties are not two separate views of nature they represent a seamless web that stretches through the layers of biological organisation, each in turn interdependent on the other.
By definition, systems tolerate variation in their lower levels of organisation; the minor genetic modifications introduced by mankind cannot therefore destabilise ecosystems. These system worshippers castigate the reductionist, stereotyping him to be cold and calculating in his white coat, ignorantly destroying the beauty of nature. Only the proponents of holistic ecology can of course see the truth. No wonder the Canadian, ex-Greenpeace leader, Patrick Moore described the current campaign against GM, as junk science and pagan myth.
1998 was the warmest year in the last millenium. I have no crystal ball, no predictive ability for the climate of the future which we know is changing. When I hear people say we do not need GM, I wonder at their purported prescience. How can anyone decide they do not need GM based on the one certainty; the climate is changing in unpredictable and more extreme ways as a result of global warming? Under variable conditions, diversity in agricultural technology will help ensure the stability of our food supply. Diversity and stability are both systems properties. Ask the peoples of Peru, Venezuala and Mozambique what global warming means to them before casting aside knowledge and security in food supply.
The opponents of GM often charge that "transgenic manipulation inserts foreign genes at random". So does nature. Mutations and deletions (foreign gene mimicks) and all sorts of genome rearrangements occur at random; why wait around for the right individuals to turn up by chance. Why not use people's cleverness to speed up what is only natural anyway? The whole of the green revolution was built on a dwarfing mutation induced at random by nature and exploited by us for breeding.
The genome is fluid in structure and elements change things around each time we go through a breeding cycle. Had we known about this dwarfing gene earlier we could have inserted it ourselves and sped the production of miracle wheat and rice, giving third world farmers earlier benefits and saved the lives of countless malnourished children.
Plant biologists crossed the species barrier some 50- 60 years ago with Triticale (wheat/rye hybrid) and have been doing so frequently ever since by techniques that are not GM. No-one had any idea what crossing agropyron with wheat would do. No-one worried, least of all the Lovins who weren't aware of the fact. But they charge GM plant biologists with not knowing what they are doing. When has a plant breeder actually understood what he is doing except in gross terms of choosing the parents of a cross? Do crop plant breeders understand hybridisation or back crossing or hybrid vigour? The plant breeder crosses hopeful parents and looks for some of the progeny to have the required characteristics. Many GM plants are produced from insertion of one gene and in the same way, hopefuls are selected and aberrants discarded.
Opponents of GM are long on slogans, short on evidence. "Superweeds" are a pejorative term designed to make you think a GM triffid is going to come up the garden path and bite you. But superweeds are merely herbicide resistant weeds. Worldwide there are about 100 "super" weeds resistant to some 16 different herbicides in total; all derived from natural selection of resistant individuals from wild weed populations. There are even four crops available to farmers with natural herbicide resistance.
If you spray with herbicide a naturally- resistant canola crop and a canola crop with resistance implanted by GM the ecological effects and the gene flow are identical. To distinguish between the two and castigate GM canola solely as dangerous is to complain about the means rather than the ends; it is a clear sign of technophobia and warped thinking. Real damaging "superweeds" are introduced plants brought in by gardeners. In the UK, at least 60 of these have hybridised with local relatives and have resulted in the destruction of woodland and river banks.
"Natures way with pathogens" we are assured is "where they learn to behave properly by not killing the host". Black death, plague, embola, leprosy, influenza, AIDS seem natural enough to me, part clearly, of what makes nature good, according to GM opponents. A few more perhaps, myxamatosis, dutch elm disease. Yes, they all allow a few of the host to survive; well just a few. But if the Lovins think natural pathogens are benign then why don't they try their luck with yellow fever, malaria, or sleeping sickness. When next they go to Africa or South America they shouldn't bother with vaccination because that is interfering in the course of benign nature and should be reprimanded. As for smallpox "
Its hard to eradicate an unwanted gene" Lovins tell us, "we've only done it once with smallpox". We've only tried once but polio is next for annihilation and then measles, cholera... Its one of those "one shot" solutions that is supposed to characterise contemptible, reductionist science and as any GM opponent will tell you does not work. Other "one shots" that work... antibiotics, chlorination of water, vitamins counteracting deficiency, protein with children suffering kwashiokor etc. Smallpox is of course a virus not a gene to correct another error in "The Tale".
"Fairer distribution of food."... Yes, what a new idea... Wasn't there someone two thousand years ago who suggested it. Perhaps the authors will care to give up all that they eat and own, in particular their computer, and give it to the poor. Deny yourself your weekly visit to the local supermarket (surplus, courtesy conventional farming) and send instead your food purchases to Indonesia. Everyone without prejudice against technology knows it is easier for scientists to conjure plants to make more food than get the rest of the world to evenly share out what it grows. Give the developing world the means to grow food; that is what is needed and that must include GM if third world scientists and farmers request it. But exporting misanthropic, western, pessimistic ideas to the third world is just another form of patronising neo- colonialism; at least so my Indian, Thai and Phillipine friends tell me. And I agree with them.
Professor Anthony Trewavas. FRS FRSE.
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology
University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3 JH Scotland.
The address for any administrative command like unsubscribe, subscribe or help is:
The searchable WWW list archive is available at
Date: 14 Apr 2000 23:07:52 +0100
From: "Maynard S. Clark" email@example.com
There are at least two papers demonstrating how organic agriculture can produce as much per hectare as conventional agriculture. It should therefore be possible to produce the same amount as we are now with organic agriculture and not increase the starvation rate (and this is not taking into account the argument about production vs. fairer distribution of food).
Drinkwater et al. (Nature 396, 262-265, 1999) gives 10 year data on maize yield comparing organic and conventional practices. Sahs et al. (IFOAM 1998 proceedings 116-124) found that oat yield was higher in organic systems.
Ecologist David Tilman also discusses ways in which yield could improve by growing more than one crop on the same field. The two or more crops could exploit different niches (ecology 80, 1455-1474, 1999).
Of course although the yield per hectare can be the same or even better under an organic system, the yield per person-hour would be much lower. Since labor is not in short supply, and clean air, water, and habitable land are, this should not make any difference with respect to feeding the world. Of course, agribusinesses are continually trying to increase profit by cutting labor costs and would naturally oppose such a scheme. It should be noted out that research funding and agricultural subsidies have favoured conventional agriculture. We could probably achieve much more with organic agriculture if the playing field was truly level.
Date: 15 Apr 2000 05:00:08 +0100
This is typical, though the government have committed £140m to organic conversions over the next five years, not one penny is being spent at the moment, as last years funds have run out and the government have taken three months to actually say how the 140m will be spent. This in effect freezes conversions as there isn't any money now. This has stopped dead the great work of the Soil Association and others. Now a US chain (Walmart) Asda, are doing this, not obviously for the good of farming but to be able to guarantee home market share in the future. This situation shows us how desperate the biotech industry are (and our government) to slow down the growth of the organic industry.
This will put the cat among the pigeons, though I questions Asda's motives, as they recently said that they would sell organic for the same price as conventional. This would potentially wipe out the premium, that is so vital when mainstream farmers comsidering the transition , and for those who are in conversion.
We will see where this takes us, one thing is sure, if organic gets off the ground quickly in the next couple of years, bioetchnology will suffer.
Jim Mc Nulty
By James Meikle,
Saturday April 15, 2000
Asda is to pay livestock farmers to go organic to increase supplies to the fastest growing sector of the food market.
The supermarket chain yesterday promised a total of £3m over three years to help the transition, which can take a farmer three to five years.
It is the first time private funds have been offered so directly to change farming methods.
Asda wants a larger slice of the organic market, aiming to sell £1m of produce a week by the end of the year, leaving it still well behind Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.
Asda is to launch its own label organic meat range next month, but it has sources for only five animals a week for beef when it is aiming at 140.
Angela Spindler, its meat and produce director, said it might pay farmers higher prices than usual for conventionally reared animals during conversion, rather than handing over cheques. To see a return on the investment, it might tie farmers into agreements after conversion.
The government says it is doing all it can to help conversion to organic farming. By next April , £24m will have been spent in two years in England, allowing 1,100 farmers to convert, compared with 400 in Britain in the five years before.
However, all the money was committed by the end of last year, leaving a 15 month gap until new £20m a year funding becomes available.
Date: 15 Apr 2000 10:39:06 +0100
From: "Ericka " firstname.lastname@example.org
P A N U P S|
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service
Resource Pointer #234
April 14, 2000
For copies of the following resources, please contact the appropriate publishers or organizations directly.
We encourage those interested in having resources listed in the PANUPS Resource Pointer to send review copies of publications, videos or other resources to our office.
NOTE: Replies to the sender of this message will not be read.
To comment, send a message to: email@example.com
To subscribe, send a blank message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To unsubscribe, send a blank message to: email@example.com
Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Phone: (415) 981-1771 Fax: (415) 981-1991
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.panna.org
Date: 15 Apr 2000 16:52:10 +0100
From: "j.e. cummins" email@example.com
April 15, 2000
Science is being used as a cult
Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently participated as an invited observer in a debate on the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and was allowed to comment publicly. The defenders of GM crops were a Professor from Saskatchewan and a Bureaucrat from the Canadian Government.
The professor smirked a great deal and claimed to be superior to the opponents of GM crops even though his knowledge of genetics seems limited. He expressed concern about the fact that the public questioned science and were unwilling to have faith in it.
I brought up recent publications on the deficiency of phytoestrogens in roundup ready soy and the studies on allergenicity of Bt and the immunogenicity of the Bt toxin and enquired as to why the foods from GM crops with harmful transgenes had not been removed from the public . The response of the advocates of GM crops was first glazed eyes and response that scientific authorities had not recognized the studies ( even though the studies appeared as peer reviewed publications in highly reputable journals). Apparently the Canadian government depends on the authority of a cult of science authorities for the decisions about the safety of unlabelled GM foods in the market.
Similarly, the editors of Nature Biotechnology tracked down a publication in a journal published outside of their influence by Maewan Ho , Angela Ryan and I and published scathing comments by science authorities who did not seem to have read the article. A cult figure, the Professor of Plant Sciences at Oxford claimed we lied but failed to mention what and where we lied. Only authorities from the cult seem to know what was lied about and they are keeping that secret. After a little prodding the editor of Nature Biotechnology `apologized' to us but made it clear we were not fit to be a part of their cult.
In conclusion, the science that I have participated in since adolescence only materialized as a cult, prior to the current transcendence, in the Soviet genetics of Academician Lysenko and the racial genetics of the Nazis.
Date: 15 Apr 2000 23:53:41 +0100
From: Robert Mann email@example.com
I believe Prof Joe's view is entirely reasonable; I see these matters as he does in this latest exellent CumminsGram. But I think he has gone too wasy for once.
As usual, I compare GM with nuclear power.
The very best scientists generally avoided nuclear power especially in my country where it was far from reality and no career in it had any real security. In the UK most of the nuke enthusiasts were second-raters, and I believe the same was largely true in the USA.
But the quality of the science itself was, arguably, not so execrable as what the gene-jockeys are getting away with. The nuke boys' neglect of improbable mishaps became notorious thru the magnificent work of the late Henry Kendall of UCS, followed by several whistle-blowers and popularisers such as Amory Lovins who now earns abuse from an Edin prof. But, by & large, the nuke boys did tend to design reactors that produced lots of heat (and lots of radioactive wastes and plutonium, the significance of which they played down), and usually didn't blow up.
New lows in the history of science have become common among the gene-jockeys. As the UCS experts summarise it, GE has produced lots of flops. And even among those monsters that have apparently worked the current generation of pesticide-containing crops and herbicide-resistant crops the science involves layer upon layer of bullshit. The 'The Big Four Rule OK' assumption is known to be false. The assumption that the GEd organism will be normal except in respect of the desired change relies on numerous implausible or downright wrong assumptions. The claim that those monsters, innocent-looking tho' they be, are no different from what could have arisen by guided breeding is, in some mouths, mere rash ignorance; most who say it are lying, as they know better.
I reckon this is the worst perversion in the history of science. Its content may not be quite as scientifically wonky as the Nazi racism, but I would rank it at least as low as Lysenko's genetics and much more positively dangerous. Even the flamboyant Prof Joe has gone too easy on the mercenary deceivers!
Date: 16 Apr 2000 03:04:15 +0100
by Antony Barnett Public Affairs Editor,
The Observer, Special report: GM debate, Sunday April 16, 2000
Results from vital Government-backed crop trials to assess genetically-modified seeds have been falsified, The Observer can reveal.
Internal minutes from the Ministry of Agriculture, obtained by this newspaper, show that an employee at a Suffolk-based firm, Grainseed, manipulated scientific data to make certain seeds in the trials appear to perform better than they really did.
This will cast a shadow over the Government's programme of GM trials, and further undermine public confidence in the controversial crop technology. MPs and environmentalists want the trials suspended.
Crucially, the trials involving Grainseed are being relied on by the Government to enable the first GM crop in Britain to be made commercially available to farmers.
Earlier this month, the Government proposed that a GM maize known as Chardon LL, which will be used as an animal feed, should be put on the National List of Seeds which farmers may buy.
MPs and environmentalists have already objected to this listing on the grounds that its potential environmental impact has not been properly assessed, and it could cross-pollinate with other crops. They say it has not been tested for food safety on cattle.
Labour's Alan Simpson said: 'This is confirmation of all our worst fears that the Government's GM policy is being driven by bad or fraudulent science. They are reliant on the industry that wants to sell these seeds to monitor the trials. This is insane, and criminally irresponsible. If data from one company has been falsified how do we know others have not been up to the same.'
The minutes give precise details of how the Grainseed employee manipulated his data. When the harvest showed that some crops were not doing as well as was hoped, he simply forged the results. It was only after an investigation by firm's managing director that the full extent of the fraud came to light.
The employee boosted the amount of the crop's 'dry matter' a crucial measurement which shows how effective the maize would be in animal feed: the more dry matter, the better the crop.
The Ministry documents taken from a meeting on 11 February, said: 'An employee of Grainseed altered the data from the... trials at Crewe so that they appeared to be within protocol for dry matter content at harvest.
'It appears that he then went on to manipulate the data on individual varieties which had the effect of increasing the dry matter yields of some and decreasing those of others.'
While the company's data from the 1999 trials have now been excluded, environmentalists are concerned that Grainseed's 1998 GM trial results are still being relied on by the Government.
Friends of the Earth believes all the data involving the GM maize should now be discarded. Pete Riley, the group's food campaigner, said: 'The whole process must be suspended and the trials declared null and void.
'How can the public have any confidence in a Government decision which is based on scientific data from a company which has been shown to produce fake data.'
An official at the Cabinet Office, which runs the Government's GM policy, said: 'We have a robust system in place to ensure we base decisions on sound science. This includes routine tests to double-check all data.
'Irregularities were identified in the data supplied by Grainseed. All of the affected data from this year was discounted... and had no bearing on the proposed list[ing] of Chardon LL.'
In the trials Grainseed was acting as an agent for the British Plant Breeders Society. This body is run by Roger Turner, who is a senior figure in SCIMAC, the key organisation responsible for commercialising GM technology and for finding trial sites.
Nobody at Grainseed was prepared to comment.
Date: 16 Apr 2000 09:19:09 +0100
From: "Ericka " firstname.lastname@example.org
By Robert Cohen
Today is the 162nd day of my hunger strike.
FDA has previously determined that the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone was safe for cows.
A surreptitiously obtained Monsanto study was published in the January, 1990 issue of Pete Hardin's dairy industry newsletter MILKWEED. At that time, many Wisconsin dairymen were against Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Although FDA was promoting that animal drug, one visionary dared to risk all by sharing TRUTH with his peers.
Monsanto and FDA claimed that the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone was safe for dairy cows. The actual data indicated otherwise.
Imagine an animal losing six percent of its body weight (100 pounds). What would you guess would be the effect on its body organs? Would the organs also shrink or remain the same size?
While stressed animals lost weight, their body organs grew!
Adrenal glands squirt adrenaline into a mammal's system during stressful events. This powerful chemical is responsible for the "fight or flight" response.
Cows treated with low doses of rbGH lost an average of 90 pounds, but their adrenal glands grew by a factor of 21% over the control group. The medium dose group experienced increases of 46%, while the high dosed group had adrenal growth rates of 51%.
The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolism. The low dose group experienced 7% growth increases. The medium dose group experienced a 17% increase, while the high dose group experienced a 61% increase over the control group.
Liver and heart weights increased by double-digit factors in the medium and high dose groups. Ovary weights increased in excess of twenty percent in all three groups.
No biological effects? Here are the actual data:
|control Group||Low Dose||Medium Dose||High Dose|
|TOTAL WEIGHT||1591 lbs||1501||1509||1487|
FDA approved milk from these cows for America's food supply in 1987.
When we drink hormone-filled milk from stressed animals, would it be reasonable to expect that these hormones might have an effect on our bodies?
I never heard the phrase "road rage" before 1990. Today, television shows and newspaper stories carry daily accounts of anger and stress.
Student violence? Children shooting children with guns? Something is wrong with the way we act towards our fellow man. Something is wrong with the way we act towards animals. Forty percent of what the average American eats (666 pounds per year/capita) represents milk and dairy products containing powerful hormones.
The research results were an important clue, but FDA reviewers were piloting our ship, and they were asleep at the helm. The pure SCIENCE from this study does not lie. We are what we eat. Overstressed animals secrete fear and pain into their flesh and body fluids, and these chemical messengers merge into our cells and ultimately our consciousness.
Date: 16 Apr 2000 15:09:45 +0100
For more information see: http://www.a16.org
Structural adjustment the standard IMF/World Bank policy package which calls for slashing government spending, privatization, and opening up countries to exploitative foreign investment, among other measures has deepened poverty around the world. In the two regions with the most structural adjustment experience, per capita income has stagnated (Latin America) or plummeted (Africa). Structural adjustment has also contributed to rising income and wealth inequality in the developing world.
Many poor countries must devote huge portions of their national budgets to paying back foreign creditors often for loans that were made to or for dictators, wasteful military spending or boondoggle projects. The money used to pay back debt subtracts from essential expenditures on health, education, infrastructure and other important needs. The IMF/World Bank plan to relieve poor countries' debt burden will leave most poor countries paying nearly as much as they currently do. And all of the debt relief is conditioned on countries undergoing years of closely monitored structural adjustment.
Russia in the 1990s has witnessed a peacetime economic contraction of unprecedented scale with the number of Russians in poverty rising from 2 million to 60 million since the IMF came to post-Communist Russia. The IMF's "shock therapy" sudden and intense structural adjustment helped bring about this disaster. "In retrospect, it's hard to see what could have been done wrong that wasn't," says Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The IMF encouraged Asian countries to open their borders to "hot money" speculative finance invested in currency, stocks and short-term securities. That was an invitation to trouble. The Asian financial crisis resulted from the hot money brokers' herdlike decision to leave Asian countries en masse.
Once the crisis hit, the IMF made things worse by requiring structural adjustment as a condition for IMF loans. The result was a surge in bankruptcies, layoffs and poverty. In Indonesia, poverty rates rose from an official level of 11 percent to 40 to 60 percent, depending on the estimate. At one point, Indonesia's food shortage became so severe that then-President Habibie implored citizens to fast twice a week. Many had no choice.
The IMF bailouts in Asia, like those in Russia and Mexico, directed money to those countries largely for the purpose of paying off loans to foreign banks. Thanks to the IMF, the banks escaped significant losses for imprudent lending decisions. Citigroup, Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan were among the beneficiaries of the "Korean" bailout.
Structural adjustment demands an increase in exports and foreign exchange earnings. As a result, explains Friends of the Earth, "Countries often over-exploit their resources through unsustainable forestry, mining and agricultural practices that generate pollution and environmental destruction."
Here's how Dr. Peter Lurie and collaborators explained the problem in the journal AIDS: The displacement of the rural sector under structural adjustment programs as imports undermine local farmers and the shift to large-scale plantations for exports further displaces the rural population contributes to migration and urbanization. Many men leave rural villages for work in big cities or in mines, contract HIV/AIDS from casual sex partners or sex workers, and then spread the disease to spouses in their home village. The displacement of children and young women into the cities has led to a sharp increase in commercial sex work and heightened rates of HIV/AIDS.
Cuts in budget spending, mandated by structural adjustment programs, leave women to pick up the pieces with government services eliminated, women are forced to provide informal social supports for the sick and disabled. The IMF/Bank emphasis on exports has pushed women farmers to switch from growing food for family consumption to crops for exports and left them poorer in the process. The high interest rates associated with structural adjustment have made credit less accessible, undermining the viability of small women-owned businesses.
The export orientation demanded by structural adjustment policies has led to more forest cutting. And World Bank forest sector loans to countries around the world have done nothing to improve the situation. " Although the [1991 Bank Forest] policy had dual objectives of conservation of tropical moist forests and tree planting to meet the basic needs of the poor, Bank influence on containing rates of deforestation of tropical moist forests has been negligible in the 20 countries with the most threatened tropical moist forests." Who said that? The World Bank's own Operations Evaluation Department, in November 1999!
World Bank loans for dams and major infrastructure projects routinely require removal of massive numbers of people from their homes and destruction of their communities. In addition to the emotional hardship of leaving their land, the displaced people almost always find their quality of life diminished after the move. The Bank itself agrees. A 1994 report from the World Bank's Environmental Department found that, "Declines in post relocation incomes are sometimes significant, in certain cases reaching as much as 40 percent for people who were poor even before their displacement."
The IFC finances and provides advice for private sector ventures and projects in developing countries in partnership with private investors. Among its private sector partners: ExxonMobil, BP, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark and Marriott. There's no reason for a public development institution, supposedly working to fight poverty, to lend its support to these well-endowed multinationals. Making matters worse, many of the private sector projects supported by the IFC, especially in the oil and gas sector, are environmentally destructive.
While massive protests against IMF and World Bank policies are commonplace in the developing world from Jordan to Indonesia, Venezuela to Zambia the IMF and World Bank are not accountable to populations in those countries. In contrast, there has never been a demonstration of more than a few hundred people to challenge IMF and Bank policy in the United States the largest and most influential shareholder in the institutions.
That's going to change on April 16-17. The thousands of people who will attend the April 16-17 protests will forever change the political context of debates on IMF and the World Bank the best hope for billions in the developing world who have been subjected to the IMF and Bank's brutal policies with no recourse.
What must happen now :
If these demands are not addressed, we face a catastrophe of global proportions. We urge all to join us in the campaign for international economic and environmental justice.
For more information see : http://www.a16.org
Date: 17 Apr 2000 11:32:15 +0100
From: wytze email@example.com
14 April 2000
For immediate release
MANILA THE militant peasant movement Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas says no thanks to food aid from the United States and agencies of the United Nations after biotechnology firms have been found to be dumping their unwanted stocks on international programs for malnutrition and famine relief.
According to the London Independent report by Declan Walsh, major producers and processors of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland have won contracts to supply projects run by the World Food Program (WFP) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) which may be tainted by ingredients being rejected by growing ranks of consumers worldwide.
Rafael Mariano, chair of the KMP, condemned the deal, saying "the agricultural monopolies are very cruel, knowing that starving people have little choice but to accept the food be grateful even if our biological future is being slowly corrupted with dangerous technologies."
The London Independent continues that up to one-third of the 500,000 tons of corn donated by the United States last year to international relief programs were genetically modified.
The report was quoted in the Internet website of the United Nations Foundation, an independent news briefing agency about the United Nations http://unfoundation.org/unwire/archives/UNWIRE000330.cfm
KMP says that the Estrada administration has been the most guilty party to allowing a deluge of food imports via the "Food for Peace" program. Under the US Public Law 480 which allots US$120 globally, Estrada applied for a soft loan of 20 million in order to import commodities dictated by the US, and for this year, 25 million.
"The US Department of Agriculture does not conceal the true objectives of the program. It shamelessly describes the 'Food for Peace' as a 'concessional sales program to promote exports of US agricultural commodities'."
Mariano said the sacks of milk powder, corn meal and wheat flour labelled with the familiar USAID logo found in feeding centers and day-care kindergartens do not help Filipinos but in fact help push local farmers into bankruptcy.
In 1998, while 150,000 metric tons of corn rotted in Mindanao due to low purchase prices, 462,000 metric tons of corn from the US flooded the country. The US government subsidizes its corn farmers by US$29,000 yearly per farmer, and their products push down prices of Philippine corn by 15% each year.
KMP wants Congress to launch investigations into possible recklessness or wrongdoing on the part of Philippine officials in designing food programs that are injurious to the health of Filipinos for generations to come.
Third World activists charge biotech firms of dumping GM products on the developing world because they have failed to convince European markets of their safety.
"Africa is treated as the dustbin of the world," said Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss of the South Africa-based advocacy group Biowatch. "To donate untested food and seed to Africa is not an act of kindness but an attempt to lure Africa into further dependence on foreign aid." # # #
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Peasant Movement of the Philippines
Subscribe to the KMP mailing list to keep you
informed of the latest campaigns in support of
land struggles in the Philippines. Just send a
blank email to
Tell your friends about it!
Mark Ritchie, President,
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
cell phone 612-385-7921 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.iatp.org