By: Alejandro Villamar / Source: Alai / The Dawn News / June 1, 2016
Last May 21, in more than 50 cities from all continents, more than 400 marches were held against the transnational company Monsanto, the main promoter of transgenic crops and the oligopolic strategy for worldwide control of agriculture.
This was a joint response coordinated by citizens and socially committed peasant and academic organizations in opposition to the offensive unleashed by transnationals in the several fronts: in the U.S. Congress, in “scientific” reports, in Latin American institutions, and of course, in commercial megaprojects such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
After the State of Vermont, base of democrat Senator Bernie Sanders, approved in 2014 a law that mandated labeling genetically modified foods (which was later also sanctioned in Connecticut and Maine), legislators spent most of last year trying to prevent this initiative from spreading around the country.
By the end of 2015, the transnational alliance and the conservative representatives of the Chamber approved a ‘voluntary labelling’ law (H.R. 1599) which is mostly a way of limiting State faculties to regulate GMO labeling at a national level.
The protest of scientists and citizens from more than 600 U.S. organizations claimed for mandatory labelling, and activist Wenonah Hauter asked: “United States of Monsanto?”. Hauter described the maneuver as another “symptom of a democracy that has been taken over by corporatives interests”.
At the beginning of 2016, the transgenic transnational strategy was taken to another level in the Senate —100 million dollars were handed out in lobbying— but amidst the electoral campaign and with 88% of the population supporting the mandatory labelling, the resistance of the people and the democrats’ votes defeated the initiative by a slim margin.
Once the legislative maneuver was frustrated in the U.S., the action restarted in two other key fronts: One is the institutional and scientific front that endorses the hegemonic speech in exchange for abundant financing from transgenic corporations, and the other one is trying to impose the commercial and international rules through mega-treaties that can clear the way for exportations and worldwide food control.
Through the controversial and discredited pro-GMO opinion of the National Research Council (NRC) —a branch of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of millions of dollars in funds from corporations such as Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical, but also denounced by the prestigious civil organization Food & Water Watch (FWW)—, transnational companies have recently been promoting again the false image that intends to “scientifically” establish that the consumption of GM products is healthy.
However, the timely article of FWW on the strong links between most GMO experts with centres of genetic engineering, institutions and cooperative funds, is overwhelming when it affirms that “interest conflicts have emerged at every level of the organization” and that as long as this is not disclaimed and then changed in favor of real autonomy for the researchers, the so-called “scientific” opinions will be questioned in terms of their “objectivity” and credibility. A similar opinion was expressed 3 years ago, in 2013, by more than 230 scientific of various countries who affirmed that “there’s is no scientific consensus on GMOs’ security”.
Finally, mega-treaties on commerce and investment which are favourable to the corporative interests, promote the creation of the bases for the transnational XXI century. This is involves political struggles between the socio-environmental interests of the public and the interests of the industries of biotechnology, nanotechnology and synthetic biology.
In the Trans-Pacific Treaty, transnational companies, their lobbyists and their complicit officials have managed to include their interests in Chapter 2 of the National Treaty and in the access to market goods, especially in Article 2.29 of the TPP, regarding the commerce of biotechnical modern products, which allows the unlimited entrance of transgenic crops, and dangerous biological and biotechnological products.
The legal trap was built thanks to the transnationals’ lawyers’ long experience of, first, rhetorically acknowledging the right of any State to act in accordance to its own laws, rules and policies, and to make public all information about the topic, customs officers permits and procedures. However, item 5 of the aforementioned article established the methodological limit imposed in the U.S. legislation to accept low levels of contamination and to adhere to their own instructions to assess the safety of foods obtained from recombinant DNA plants. Using plain language, this means accepting the criteria, the norms and the procedures of the dominant power.