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Europe starving Africa??


Hey guys,

    Not to launch another flame-fest...  but can anyone make sense of why Bush is blaming Europe for famine in Africa?  This wasn't a case of him misspeaking... he's said it a number of times.  It seems to have something to do with Europe not importing genetically modified foods from America.
   
Charles "I thought he'd blame Clinton for that" Lewis

Charles Lewis
Monday, June 23, 2003

Can anyone make sense of what Bush is saying at all???

S
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

because Mr Bush wants europe to revoke its ban on GE food imports.

<g> makes sense....

the story seems to be that Africa is reluctant to allow GE foods to be planted there because its chasing the EU as a market, and EU has banned GE foods.

and _because_ africa is not planting GE foods, its starving to death.

so therefore its europes fault that africa is living through another famine.


all a total pile of shit of course :)  bonus points to mr bush for being so willing to use the african famines to push his own political agendas...

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

"all a total pile of shit of course :)"

Uh, no.  I believe it was Mugabe who rejected U.S. GM food claiming it would affect their ability to later export food to Europe, because of Europe's anti-GM laws.  Therefore, more Zimbabwe people continue to starve than need to.

If there was any concrete data suggesting GM foods are harmful, that would be one thing.  But mostly it's just Europe trying to protect their farmers.

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It is true that Africa would be producing more food if the EU didn't ban GM food.  But lack of food production has exactly NOTHING to do with Africans starving.  For example, right now Western aid agencies and charitable organizations are trying get free food to starving people in Zimbabwe, but Robert Mugabe will not allow it. 
More food, less food, no difference.  Africans starve.  It is their birthright.     

Staring at reality
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Western farmers, both European and US, are so heavily subsidized that African farmers can't compete even on home ground.

If western leaders were genuinely concern about the economic imbalance that has a cause effect on starvation then subsidys will be ruled out.

Additionally food aid causes severe disruption to local African farmers. What industry that survives the drought/war is decimated by free hand-outs.

Food aid is another covert way western countries subsidise their agriculture industry.

Of course there are shades of gray in the above reasoning - but on the hold these a strong fundamentals that have cause effects on African farming.

Adam Smith Kinsely
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"Therefore, more Zimbabwe people continue to starve than need to."

Zimbabwe says:
a) There's not enough food to feed everyone here.
b) We're worried about successfully exporting food to Europe.

Nope.  Still not making sense to me. 

This does seem to have more to do with Mugabe than a food shortage.  Too bad he's not sitting on any oil we could use.

Charles Lewis
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

European environmental activist lobbyists have put a lot of pressure on the EU (and american ) organizationst to NOT allow inorganic, high-yeild farming techniques in Africa through sanctions and hindering funding from the world bank. Search for "Norman Borlaug" for more about this.

Bush's explanation is overly simplistic and everything he does is suspect with ulterior motives, but there is a bit of truth to the claim that the EU is contributing to the starvation of africa.


http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97jan/borlaug/borlaug.htm
http://reason.com/0004/fe.rb.billions.shtml

hello
Wednesday, June 25, 2003


That Reason article was cool, true enough: I never heard of that guy.  He did have some interesting things to say about how funding of international farming aid is tied to not using certain pesticides and GM crops.

It's still a far cry from the claim that famine there is caused by European trade barriers.


To digress, I remember reading once about a (very conservative) guy who did a lot of hands-on humanitarian work.  Wish I could remember his name... he was killed in Yugoslavia.  Anyway, he believed that, as a previous poster mentioned, indiscriminate aid to disaster areas could actually destroy the local economy.  Additionally, he felt that the aid pumped into African countries largely ended up in the hands of the militants who had caused the crisis, which could actually extend the crisis.  In short, the solution wasn't "more food", it was political and economic stability.

Charles Lewis
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"Uh, no.  I believe it was Mugabe who rejected U.S. GM food claiming it would affect their ability to later export food to Europe, because of Europe's anti-GM laws.  Therefore, more Zimbabwe people continue to starve than need to."

?? people are dying in africa because of draught, incompetent management and a _lack of food_

It would require more than a change of European law to change that....I suggest that maybe if china or india altered their laws as well the situation in Africa would change drastically. 
If the above countries refuse or it doesn't help then maybe (but only as a last resort of course) we could think about blaming those responsible (god, nature, the african governments).

"If there was any concrete data suggesting GM foods are harmful, that would be one thing.  But mostly it's just Europe trying to protect their farmers. "

now _thats_ just stupid.
Is there any concrete data suggesting GM foods are _not_ harmful?
I mean come on....no one has the faintest clue what the flow on effects of altering the genetic makeup of these foods will be.

Not to mention that the _real_ advantage in persuading Africa to begin using GE foods is that the seeds from which it is grown are patented and designed to only be fertile for 1 season.  Thus if we can persuade Africa to switch american companies can continue to make $ off of it for generations...

America has to grow up.  I feel sick everytime it becomes obvious that the 'help' we are offering to other countries is designed primarily to make a profit for ourselves.
I mean, a profit as a sideeffect is one thing, deliberately trying to screw up African agricultural economies so they are forever reliant on our GE seed is something entirely different, an something for which we should feel shame.

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

fullname,

I worked in the peace corps in kenya for 3 years, and my day job now is in bioinformatics. 

You say: "deliberately trying to screw up African agricultural economies so they are forever reliant on our GE seed"

There currently are no "african agricultural economies" to speak of. Agriculture in africa is about as broken as it possibly could be.

"Is there any concrete data suggesting GM foods are _not_ harmful?"

Food is food. The body can't biochemically tell the difference between a genetically modified tomato and a wild type tomato. If you've eaten Heinz ketchup in the past 15 years, you've eaten a genetically modified tomato. Same with nearly any food not marked as "organic." there is no scientific basis for worry about wheat that has been genetically alterted to be more resistant to pesticides.

"I feel sick everytime it becomes obvious that the 'help' we are offering to other countries is designed primarily to make a profit for ourselves."

Africa has no money, there is not much profit to be made in this arena.

hello
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"There currently are no "african agricultural economies" to speak of. Agriculture in africa is about as broken as it possibly could be."

exactly the point.  so why is our great leader blaming _europe_?

more to the point, why is the leader of the greatest demoratic nation in the world acting as the mouthpiece for big business?

"there is no scientific basis for worry about wheat that has been genetically alterted to be more resistant to pesticides. "
how do you know?
the point is that it is not possible for sufficient scientific research to have been carried out to prove this.
The fact  that currently we dont know whether its going to have long term effects on the environment (its effects on the human body is a _much_ smaller concern IMO) and what those effects might be.

There have already been reported cases of certain experiments going wild and causing problems.

but Im willing to believe you :) just point me to the scientific evidence produced by research into the long term effects of genetically modified plants on the environment and we can go over the results together.


"Africa has no money, there is not much profit to be made in this arena. "

so the entire question of europe being at fault is moot.  the GE foods that Mr Bush would like africa to be growing do _not_ get distributed for free.  someone will have to pay for them.

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

hey, this is interesting.....

never liked butterflies anyway :)

http://www.socialistaction.org/news/199907/profits.html

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

same info, different source:
http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_environment/biotechnology_archive/page.cfm?pageID=334

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

here it is again, abcnews, thats a fairly reliable source.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DailyNews/butterflies990519.html

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"there is no scientific basis for worry about wheat that has been genetically alterted to be more resistant to pesticides. "

_unless_ you happen to be a monarch butterfly.

I get _very_ angry when I hear apparently intelligent people talking such absolute tripe.

The point about genetically engineering stuff is that _we do not know_ what we are doing.

GE is _not_ a precise process, anyone who attempts to say that it is, and that its also safe, is guilty of either immense stupidity, a head in the sand approach to reality, or deliberately spreading misinformation.

which are you guilty of?

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 26, 2003

The safety of all GM foods is an open question in my book.  It's certainly possible for unexpected (and unwanted) effects to occur which could make the modified foods harmful. 

On the other hand, nature (humans included) already genetically modifies the plants that we use for food through natural selection, albeit not as quickly as our GM scientists do.

There have already been cases of GM foods triggering alergies that the original foods did not; but if I were starving to death I'd probably take the risk.  As long as I didn't get that type of tomato that glows in the dark and barks when it's ripe.

Charles Lewis
Friday, June 27, 2003

From the ABC article:

"And Val Giddings, vice president for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said: 'Whatever the threat to monarch butterflies that is posed by Bt corn pollen, we know it’s less than the threat of drifting pesticide sprays.'”

So is there any reason to think that the butterflies are in GREATER danger from GM foods with built in pesticides than the pesticides that were used before?  Is there any evidence that butterflies have been dying in the wild due to GM corn?  After all, it's already 25% of all corn planted in the U.S., according to the article.

Also, in the case of Mugabe, he was rejecting FOOD donations, not seeds for planting.  So it wasn't a case of American companies trying to lock in a market with "time expiring" seeds.

Jim Rankin
Friday, June 27, 2003

" 'Whatever the threat to monarch butterflies that is posed by Bt corn pollen, we know it’s less than the threat of drifting pesticide sprays.'”

dont be dense.

Even if it is less than the threat of drifting pesticide sprays, this corn is _alive_ and its perfectly possible that it continue to grow without being planted.
At least pesticides stop spreading when they are no longer used.

This is an example of an _unintended sideeffect_
So, this particular sideeffect is not going to drive monarch butterflies to extinction in the near future, its still vitally important that we learn a lesson from this.

FullNameRequired
Friday, June 27, 2003

"Also, in the case of Mugabe, he was rejecting FOOD donations, not seeds for planting"

the food he was rejecting from the us was corn and maize.
Both will grow if dropped.

allowing those into the country for a decent period will guarantee that any laws against planting gm seeds will be useless.
(not to put too fine a point on it, the seeds will survive being ingested)

FirstNameRequired
Sunday, June 29, 2003

I don't want to start another whole thread on how many of Bush's arguments for invading Iraq didn't hold water...  But for those who are interested (and at least a few of the usual suspects seem to be following this thread), this article has some of the highlights (low points?).

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16274

Charles Lewis
Monday, June 30, 2003

Why does Zimbawaye have no food? Not because they refuse to import GM food, but because the government killed all the farmers.

Really. They used to be a major food exporter.

mb
Monday, July 07, 2003

mb:
Zimbabweans are murdering their farmers but they have not yet killed all of them so it is not too late.  We should all be doing what we can to stop this horror, though what that is I don't know, short of invading and ethnically cleansing the black Africans, which, umm, sort of goes against the whole point of saving them from starvation.

Staring at reality
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Wasn't it Zambia that rejected the GM maize? Zimbabwe is starving because Mugabe (the government) is destroying what they have of an agricultural system. Not everyone who tries mucking with the farm economy is a Joseph in Egypt.

Personally, I have nothing against GM crops. Maize as we know it requires human intervention to reproduce and has for millenia. They have been trying to breed apomyctic corn for ages now. This would let corn plants set seed without external fertilization, like dandelions. This would be a boon to the third world. I don't really care if they finally figure out how to do this by breeding or GM techniques, but it would be great either way.

A Kaleberg
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Europe is starving Africa, The USA is starving Africa, isnt it patently obvious that every first world country is somehow starving Africa?

As for GM food, one of the main things most people in Europe have against GM food is that it is no better than normal food, why should we accept even a small risk to our health so that the companys sticking the food on our shelves can make a bit more profit?

Even if GM food was allowed into Europe more freely, most of the large supermarket chains say they would not see any reason to stock it, since the market for it is so small. The real issue is the fact that European legislation requires that all GM food be clearly labeled as such, which gives the consumer the choice, but since the vast majority of European consumers do not want GM food that label becomes a death knell to the products in question. The issue isn't whether to sell GM food or not but whether we should be allowed to choose not to eat that muck.

The patents issue is also very serious, there have already been several cases of farmers having to destroy their crops without compensation because GM seed from a neighbouring facility failed to control their crops from selling, this scares european farmers. Nevermind the whole issue that the patents are on modified versions of crops that families in these same third world countries have refined over thousands of years. Do you suppose the crops that the sample grain was taken from were listed as prior art? Or is it more likely the patents suggest that the maize in question was magicked out of thin air through the ingenuity of the companies who own the patents?

As for President Bush, he is generally seen as a bit of a joke on this side of the atlantic, and there will be very sound peals of laughter from all of us when after he illegally stole the presidential election by getting people removed from the voting register (even ignoring the whole dimpled chad fiasco), led the country into an unjustified war for the sake of a few oil companies, withdrew from the kyoto agreement and any one of hundreds of other stupid decisions, when after all this, ye morons go and elect him to a second term in office.

Wakka Wakka Wakka
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

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