On 16th October – World Food Day – the Borlaug Foundation awarded the world food prize to top executives of Monsanto and Syngenta. The price is co-financed by the companies themselves and the institute has received a storm of criticism over it.
Within days a quarter of a million people signed a protest call (1) . The prize has all the signs of a PR stunt of the industry, who are using cheap tricks to throw an unwelcome technology into the limelight.
The presentation of the award to Monsanto is in fact a simple behind the scenes exchange; in 2008, Monsanto gave $ 5 million to The World Food Prize Foundation (2).
Last june 81 members of the World Future Council spoke out their disapproval on the award of the prize. “By honoring the biotechnology seed industry the organization goes beyond its own mandate, which aims to highlight the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people” (3). Criticism on the award comes from many sides. (4)
The practices of Monsanto and Syngenta have nothing to do with sustainable agriculture. Their high technology solutions are only accessible for large landowners and their patents on seeds bring an increasing part of food production into the hands of a few large companies. GM Food is rejected by many and its safety is controversial. The cultivation of GM crops is associated with the use of large quantities of pesticides, which is increasing chemical resistance in weeds
and insects. The cultivation does not feed the soil but exhaust it and it is highly dependent on large input of fossil fuel in the form of fertilizers and pesticides. It is a form of agriculture that is responsible for major damage to the environment and climate and in developing countries it leads to landgrabbing on a massive scale.
Recently, scientist have shown that European non -GM crops provides higher yields than the U.S. GM crops (5). But there are much better and promising developments in agriculture which deliver, with little external input, higher yields and more profit for the farmer. In the spring of 2014 Voedsel-Anders Netwerk is organising a conference on Foodsovereignty and Agro-ecology to give the attention which it deserves to this whole other side of the agriculture and food.
It is high time for a completely different approach to agriculture, a change of paradigm as an international group of 400 scientists said in 2008 (6) and which was recently repeated by UNCTAD in its report “Wake up before it’s too late. Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate” (7).
The awarding of the prize can only be seen as a desperate attempt by a failing industry to save its image.
(1) Petitie http://action.sumofus.org/a/world-food-prize-monsanto-syngenta
(6) International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD,
(7) UNCTAD http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=666
Zie verder ook http://grassrootsscience.nl/ en Platform Aarde Boer Consument
ASEED Europe (www.aseed.net), Boerengroep Wageningen (www.boerengroep.nl), Gifsoja,nl, Otherwise (www.st-otherwise.org), Werkgroep Voedselrechtvaardigheid (www.foodjustice.eu), WILPF-NL (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), XminY Solidariteitsfonds (www.xminy.nl)