Black-washing the Genetically Modified Food Debate

SpinWatch exposes Congress of Racial Equality as front group with ties to Monsanto

| April 7, 2005

The biotechnology industry maintains that there is strong support for genetically modified (GM) food throughout the world. The media watchdog group SpinWatch begs to differ, accusing the GM industry of paying groups of South African, Indian, and black American Baptists to protest anti-GM protests. '[F]rom US administration platforms to UN headquarters, from Capitol Hill to the European Parliament, we've been treated to a veritable minstrelsy of lobbying,' writes Jonathan Matthews.

He explains that the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) -- which bills itself as 'bringing justice to the Third World' -- is in fact a biotech industry front group with ties to the agribusiness giant Monsanto. He reports that CORE has been desperate to improve the reputation of genetically-engineered products around the world and has high jacked human rights rhetoric by claiming that 'the hunger and suffering of millions of the world's poor ... are denied the benefits of genetically engineered food.' The United States is there for back up, as evidenced by President Bush's 2003 threat to sue the European Union for not opening its markets to American GM products.

In reality, there is broad international support for GM regulation. Lim Li Ching, senior fellow at the Oakland Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, says 116 countries around the world have signed the Cartagena Protocol, an agreement that allows countries the right to control the import of genetically modified organisms into their countries -- an accord the United States has not signed. Ching has criticized the USDA, the FDA, and the EPA for proposing food safety guidelines that would loosen restrictions on the containment of experimental GM material in food, possibly affecting the food supplies of countries importing the modified food. Ching says there should be 'careful scrutiny of US proposals that may find their way into global negotiations or unilaterally affect importing countries.'
-- Barb Jacobs

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