GMOs & The Agro-food Industry (Rights of Nature Tribunal 2015 in Paris, Part 2)
Here's part 2 of a report on The International Rights of Nature Tribunal that was held December 4th & 5th in Paris during the 21st UN Conference on Climate Change. The purpose of the Tribunal is to "call out violations against nature and call for specific changes in governance and economic systems to repair what's been broken". Some of this new is nothing new to you, and some of it is the debated opinion of the experts; I'm reporting solely on the testimony I heard. I will include links so you can further explore the issues if you'd like to know more.....
Testimony against the Agro-food industry and GMOs happened on Friday afternoon beginning with Vandana Shiva, a scientist, author and activist from India. Shiva took part in an action in the 1970's during which she and a group of other women in India hugged trees in order to prevent them from being cut down, and this is how the term "treehugger" came about. Vandana told the tribunal that GMOs go hand in hand with patenting; that "life on earth is being created as a corporation". There's an epidemic in India with farmers committing suicide- hundreds of thousands of suicides since the mid-1990's, and Vandana attributes it to the use of BT cottonseeds, which are gmo seeds patented by Monsanto. They were designed to resist some kinds of insects, but aren't resistant to other insects Farmers end up going into incredible amounts of debt because they are forced to buy Monstanto's pesticides designed to kill the insects that are strongly attracted to BT cotton crops. In addition, BT seeds are expensive and lose their insecticide traits after one generation. Shiva says "farmers' debt grows as GMO corporation's profits grow", 95% of cotton grown in India is BT; Monsanto has a monopoly on it. And as one of Shiva's many quotes says "It is not an investment if it is destroying the planet".
Click here to see Vandana Shiva on Bill Boyers.
Click here to see Mother Jone's take on Farmer Suicides in India.
The second person to speak was Marie-Monique Robin, a French reporter/documentary filmaker. Robin spoke about Roundup, which she views as "the greatest health scandal happening on the planet". Also owned by Monsanto, Roundup (brand name for Glyphosate) was introduced to the public in the 1974 as an herbicide used to kill weeds. Monsanto's commercials in Europe advertised the product as biodegradable, when only a small percentage of it is. The American EPA discovered research fraud with the product; studies were faked to hide that Roundup causes disease, including various kinds of cancer. Another scientist testified and I did not catch his name, but he had alot of statistical data in slideshow and graphic photos of female rats with mammary tumors and male rats with testicular tumors attributed to exposure to Glyphosate. The chemical is still legal in most of the world, with the exception of a few nations. In March 2015 the World Health Organization's
International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic in humans".
Click here to read more about the WHO's link of glyphosate to cancer.
Also testifying in front of the tribunal for crimes against nature was Ronny Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association. Very lively on stage, Cummins purports that most of global warming comes from industrial food, farming and landuse. According to Cummins, there's been an increase of nitrous oxide and greenhouse gases with GMOs. Food waste in landfills turns into methane. Deforestation is linked to largescale farming and landuse. Factory farms are the #1 problem causing global warming; "we need to put our money where our mouth is" and change our system. One of the tribunal judges asked Cummins about where class/race comes into play. Cummins is a proponent of "organic justice"- that everyone deserves access to organic food. He mentioned that the lowest 20% on the income scale spends %50 percent of their income on food. He bluntly said "in the U.S., we have a lousy government that doesn't care about poor people".
Click here to read more about factory farming and climate change.