Skip to main content

Gates Foundation alliance favours GMO, calls critique of biotechnology antiscience

The Cornell Alliance for Science, an organisation that operates out of Cornell University, is misnamed, argues Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice in a recent report, pointing out, It owes its allegiance not to Cornell but to its founder and main funder, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is making frantic effort to side-step the current emphasis on food security, even as promoting corporate agri-business.
The report says, the Alliance does not promote ‘science', even though the word is part of it; rather, it promotes agribusiness, its associated technologies. The Alliance, in fact, recruits ‘Global Leadership Fellows’ whose main job is to act as paid mouthpieces for their sponsors, which is to reshape the trajectory of global governance of the food system, promoting to shape public opinion in favour of adopting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and corporate agriculture. Excerpts:
***
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has emerged over the past decade as an extremely influential actor in an ever-intensifying battle over the future of food and agriculture, pumping major funding into industrial agriculture while participating in powerful alliances seeking to reshape the trajectory of global governance of the food system. While some of these activities are drawing increasing scrutiny and analysis, this study examines a lesser-known aspect of BMGF’s strategy: framing the debates and shaping how issues are communicated, as well as fostering a new generation of leadership to carry forward its mission.
Funded by BMGF, the Cornell Alliance for Science (CAS) uses its affiliation with Cornell University to claim scientific neutrality while assiduously promoting communications aligned with agribusiness through its use of fellows, especially those from Africa. In taking a deeper look at the CAS Fellowship Program and the types of messaging it propagates, we expose the pernicious methods used by the Gates Foundation to influence the communications, narratives and policies regarding agricultural development in Africa and beyond.
The CAS Global Leadership Fellows program (is) a 12-week intensive training course on “science-based communications” held each year at Cornell bringing together 20–30 young professionals, mainly from the Global South, and particularly Africa. Upon examination of the fellows’ affiliations, multiple linkages with BMGF become apparent.
Cross checking the fellows’ affiliations with grant disbursement data provided on the BMGF website, we can see that 34% of all the African CAS fellows from 2015–2019 were associated with organizations that received funding from BMGF. Together, organizations connected to the fellows received over $775 million from BMGF between 2006 and 2019.
The strong overlap between the groups funded by BMGF for agricultural development and the CAS fellows gives additional meaning to the CAS strategy of “building a global network,” begging the question, whom does this network serve, and toward what ends? In analyzing the work put out by CAS and its fellows, a striking pattern emerges of there being a singular focus and message running throughout almost all of it: an uncritical promotion of biotechnology. A key communications strategy of CAS is to promote narratives in which biotechnology is equated with ‘science’ and critique of biotechnology is equated with being ‘anti-science.’
CAS does not appear to seriously consider science-based alternatives to biotechnology, such as agroecology, despite widespread recognition that it provides the most promising pathway to sustainable and just food systems. Instead, CAS seeks to discredit both the concept of agroecology and the movements and researchers promoting it.
What adds power to the narratives of CAS is that its messages are not coming from BMGF or from its agribusiness partners directly, but from mostly young, African voices that make up its Fellowship Program, ostensibly informed by their lived experiences and claimed scientific rigor, given the affiliation with Cornell. This matters in terms of how these messages are received by the public. CAS is nurturing an elite body of purported science experts to become regulators in institutions creating policies that facilitate the expansion of corporate biotechnology in Africa.
Through its funding for the Cornell Alliance for Science, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is seeking to shape public opinion in favor of adopting GMOs and corporate agriculture. CAS is building a new generation of leaders to carry out BMGF’s mission of spreading corporate biotechnology across the Global South, particularly Africa. A key communications strategy of CAS is to promote narratives in which biotechnology is equated with ‘science’ and critique of biotechnology is equated with being ‘antiscience.’
Furthermore, CAS seeks to discredit both the concept of agroecology and the movements and researchers promoting it. These efforts are coming at a time at which agroecology has been receiving increasing recognition and making unprecedented advances on the global stage: from the International Forum for Agroecology at Nyéléni held in Mali in 2015, which brought together social movements throughout the world toward a common agenda for agroecology, to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Global Dialogue on Agroecology from 2014–2018 in the form of two international and six regional symposia involving more than 1400 participants from 170 countries, to agroecology being a key item on the agenda at the United Nations Committee on World Food Security in 2019, extending into 2020.
That the attacks on agroecology by CAS are coming at the same time that there is a mounting global scientific consensus around the merits of agroecology is no coincidence. Studies have demonstrated that perceived scientific consensus is a key factor in influencing public support on a given issue and that this tends to encourage counter-efforts around “the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests.” As momentum continues to build around agroecology, its advocates can be certain that further smear campaigns and other attempts to manufacture doubt will continue. It is hoped that this report can be instructive in this light.
It is important to look at CAS not in isolation, but to understand it as part of a broader set of efforts being employed by BMGF and as part of a large web of actors and initiatives shaping the politics of food and agriculture. Among the most significant of these is a Global Food Systems Summit being planned for 2021 that could shift the power in global governance away from the relatively democratic UN Committee on World Food Security toward more closed spaces dominated by agribusiness interests, as indicated by the summit’s sponsorship by the World Economic Forum.

Comments

TRENDING

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Trying to tell a rooted story: Decolonial imagery, Brahmastra and Pushpa’s Srivalli

By Gautam Bisht*  I recently watched Brahmastra and I feel the film is a nice illustration of the disastrous turn good intentions may take. The film is trying to tell a rooted story, about ‘astras’ using high quality VFX (whatever that is) but comes across as cringe. With no dearth of awkward moments in the film, my personal favorite are scenes where Shiva is touching the feet of his elders. The film just manages to make regular everyday actions look bizarre and alien. It’s the kind of film that can make even right-wing people feel disappointed in tradition. One way to explain this, is the paradox of decoloniality. If you don't know what decoloniality is, it may just mean that you are doing some interesting stuff in life. But as someone interested in social science, I have to work with such concepts. Simply put, decoloniality cannot be explained simply. One has to go through some dense and convoluted spaces to get there. It’s like scoring weed for the first time in Delhi. You would

Not my burden of shame: Malaysia's apathy in tackling problem of sexual harassment

By Jeswan Kaur*  "There was no such thing as child abuse. Parents owned their children. They could do whatever they wanted." -- actress Ellen Burstyn Condemning, judging and humiliating - it this the very nature of people in general or is this what Malaysians are best known for? When a 15-year-old actress recently made a damning revelation that she was molested as a child by her perverted father, support was far from coming. Instead, many name shamed Puteri Nuraaina Balqis, calling her "stupid" and rebuking her for seeking cheap publicity by insulting her father. They "advised" her to pray more, "be thankful to her father for bringing her into this world and remember that she would be given something by Allah for insulting her father." Would any of those who condemned Puteri Balqis "enjoy" being molested, raped or sexually harassed? Would they fancy calling their house a sanctuary when safety was no where in sight? Do these insensitive