Sat Oct 19, 2013, 06:18 AM
polly7 (10,804 posts)
Critics assail Monsanto as winner of World Food Prize
by Gavin Aronsen @garonsen
October 18, 2013 12:00PM ET
Prestigious award’s legitimacy called into question by some, while others say genetically modified food feeds the world
Often hailed as the Nobel Prize of food, the World Food Prize has received as much attention this week for its ties to industrial agriculture and genetically modified (GM) crops as it has for honoring those who feed the world’s poor. The prize has been a lightning rod for international criticism since June, when it announced as one of its laureates Robert Fraley, an executive at the biotech corporation Monsanto, which has been at the center of a number of controversies over GM crops. Fraley shared the honor with Syngenta scientist Mary-Bell Chilton and Plant Genetic Systems co-founder Marc Van Montagu, fellow pioneers in the development of high-yield GM crops resistant to disease, pests and harsh climates.
“To me, from a PR perspective, it was a bad decision to have all three of the recipients of the award from the corporate world,” said Frederick Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames. “They should have expected this was going to raise serious questions about whether or not they were giving the impression that the solution (to fighting hunger) is just intensifying industrial agriculture.”
From 1999 to 2011, Monsanto donated $380,000 (PDF) to the World Food Prize Foundation in addition to a $5 million contribution in 2008 to help renovate the Hall of Laureates, a public museum honoring Borlaug. The donations have prompted accusations that Monsanto essentially bought Fraley’s award — a charge denied by the foundation
The foundation’s other major advocates and funders, which include the United States government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have supported the modern equivalent of the industrial agriculture model that ushered in the Green Revolution in the 1960s. Borlaug won the Nobel Prize for his work fighting famine in the developing world before the advent of GM crops through large-scale, single-crop farming techniques similar to those promoted by Monsanto. These techniques, critics argue, reduce biodiversity and require excessive use of pesticides while focusing too little on local food systems.
Full article: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/18/critics-assail-monstanoaswinnerofworldfoodprize.html
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