Summary: Citizens of Haiti are not exactly grateful for Gates’ promotion of a long-term liability which he makes money from; other news coverage starts to unravel the Gates-GMO connection and we take a closer look at his latest Haitian giveaway
THE Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthrocapitalist player created by Bill Gates, faces criticism. Gates has been trying not to draw much attention to his relationship with GMO, based on a fairly recent report that we showed (after backlash he must have realised it’s bad for PR and his “brand name”). But victims of Monsanto are not as dumb as Monsanto needs them to be. Sooner or later they find out that Monsanto exploits the poor and the less educated — those who find it harder to refuse becoming Monsanto customers.
Monsanto is a “pusher”, much like Microsoft. First it gives something for “free” and later on, when it becomes hard to resist and to undo the dependencies, Monsanto charges a fortune and bullies those who do not or cannot pay. Monsanto criminalises many farmers in the same way that Microsoft criminalises computer users.
“Monsanto criminalises many farmers in the same way that Microsoft criminalises computer users.”To readers who wish to associate us with nutty conspiracy theorists, we are not arguing about the merits or harms of genetically-modified crops in terms of health. We only argue about the business model. It’s about patents (monopolies).
A few weeks ago it was made known that Monsanto intended to ‘inject’ (forceful connotation intended) its products into Haiti. It is a devastated nation whose catastrophe several greedy businesses are trying to exploit, even Microsoft. Fortunately for citizens of Haiti, there are some good people in the United States (to march in Seattle, no less!) who help Haitian farmers understand what Monsanto wants to do to them. There were even reports which said that Haitians would burn all seeds donated by Monsanto as a matter of principle and practicality (just laying seeds on the ground may help them grow and expand through dissemination). In short, they burn Monsanto’s so-called ‘IP’ rather than let it infect the nation. From the new article:
Groups around the U.S. Join Haitian Farmers in Protesting ‘Donation’ of Monsanto Seeds
AGRA Watch in Seattle plans a march today which will end outside the Gates Foundation office. AGRA stands for A Green Revolution in Africa, which is a multinational corporation-driven, GMO-driven program now being launched in Africa. The Gates Foundation has been a key promoter of AGRA. The group says, “The dumping of toxic seeds in Haiti is the latest in a series of unsustainable solutions that Monsanto has pushed on farmers around the world. If the Gates Foundation wants to support a truly sustainable agricultural system in Africa, they must divorce themselves from Monsanto. Haitian farmers and African farmers have said NO! to corporate control of their food systems. The Gates Foundation and AGRA must say no to Monsanto.”
This article does mention the role of the Gates Foundation, but it is not focused on this one particular aspect. Here is a new and very detailed African article which covers AGRA Watch and a lot more about the Gates Foundation’s role. It is a long article which is worth a read. To quote parts of it:
AGRA Watch formed in 2008 to challenge the Gates Foundation’s participation in the problematic Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and to support sustainable, agro-ecological alternatives already practiced in Africa.
The Gates Foundations, like other mega-philanthropies, use their financial power to push policies that they have decided are ‘needed.’ In this case, Gates has decided that GMOs are the solution for African agriculture. In 2009, the Gates Foundation gave US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, as part of its Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. This funding went to the creation and management of the BioSafety Resource Network (BRN), and to research under the Gates’ Grand Challenges #9 Project, which seeks to develop nutritionally ‘enhanced’ crop varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum and rice for subsistence farmers in the Global South. The Danforth Center states that the ‘Results of this research will help to reduce the burden of malnutrition and … will support the creation and management of a resource network that will help African scientists incorporate biotech advances into subsistence farming.’
Among the key funders of The Danforth Center is the Monsanto Fund, the ‘philanthropic’ arm of the Monsanto Company. One of the Fund’s main goals is ‘Nutritional Improvement through Agriculture: Working to implement sustainable agricultural improvements through education and research. Focus areas include field techniques, education in the areas of nutrition and vitamin deficiency and reducing the impact of pest and virus on subsistence crops’, and to do this philanthropic work in areas where the company has important interests. This means that, like most philanthropic organisations set up by corporations, their business interests are barely distinguishable from their charitable ones. Monsanto – like other agri-corporations – has re-branded genetic engineering with a softer touch. Namely, they have painted themselves as concerned with the welfare of the world’s poor. In truth, these corporations are concerned with social responsibility only to the extent that it allows them to maintain good public relations and their bottom-line. At a deeper level, corporate agendas and philanthropic agendas are linked to US policy, and are thereby granted legitimacy and enormous influence over global political systems.
Given scientific data that discount the claims of genetic engineering, why would the ‘beneficent’ structures of food aid and philanthropy remain tied to claims of GE’s usefulness in the global South, particularly in Africa? According to numerous academics, policy observers, and activists, these structures are not about hunger. They are about capitalism and philanthro-capitalism: The opening of markets, the spending of wealth through tax-free foundations in order to surround wealthy principals with the aura of altruism, the expropriation of valuable resources at the lowest cost, the perpetuation of the myth that technology solves all problems, even social ones, and the intentional obfuscation of the exploitative roles of corporations.
The article mentions philanthrocapitalism, which is a notion we explained last month. It’s a form of self-advertising for someone who may make a lot of money in this process of glorification through investments with fairy tales and sob stories. The sad thing is that the Gates Foundation is investing a lot in PR-oriented employees, whose job is to counter truth-tellers (those who need to appeal to publications for dissenting points of view). The latest big PR from the Gates Foundation uses the image of “Women and Children” (even babies) for sentimental value. They are seemingly ‘injecting’ it into other articles which cover the same topic. In addition, the Gates Foundation approaches the poor people of Haiti with some telephones, as noted in MSBBC and other fan press of Microsoft and Gates. Yes, it’s the Seattle Times again. For those who don’t know why the Seattle Times is “fan press” of these adjacent entities, one need only spend some time watching other fanfare in this publication (and refusal to publish big stories that are negative to Microsoft and Gates, tax evasion for example). People who worked for Microsoft complain about this publication too. They live in an echo chamber and Brier Dudley from the Seattle Times finally shows that he having dinners with Microsoft. They are like a Seattle family.
“One very interesting thing is the involvement of USAID, whose administrator Rajiv Shah is from the Gates Foundation.”Anyway, going back to the Haiti gig, Gates’ people brag about it and control the message with a fabulous press release, leading to obedient coverage that lacks any additional research [1, 2, 3, 4]. Some of Gates’ own boosters are all over this news [1, 2, 3], but they merely repeat Gates’ message. They don’t explore beyond it. “Who are the companies that are going to implement the service,” asked us a reader who sent us an alert about the news. “Is there any connection to a Microsoft-affiliated company?” We were unable to find which companies receive this money. Either they are unnamed or we simply look at the wrong articles (which say too little, as we’ve already alleged). One very interesting thing is the involvement of USAID, whose administrator Rajiv Shah is from the Gates Foundation. We wrote about him in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. They are closing a loop.
There are several important points to be made here: 1) the amount of this ‘donation’ is relatively small; 2) it’s not really a donation because the poor & hungry people don’t need banks and phones right now, they have more urgent needs. “Let them eat phones” is the headline chosen by one critic of this scheme:
Unless the situation is extremely well researched this is a very risky investment. ‘Leapfrogging’ may only be possible when there are already lots of cell phones being used.
Bill Gates’ investments in Haiti may seem more self-serving than charitable, especially the Monsanto part. It would be useful to find out who receives the money in Haiti and what companies (or hedge funds) benefit. █
More on Monsanto:
- With Microsoft Monopoly in Check, Bill Gates Proceeds to Creating More Monopolies
- Gates-Backed Company Accused of Monopoly Abuse and Investigated
- How the Gates Foundation Privatises Africa
- Reader’s Article: The Gates Foundation and Genetically-Modified Foods
- Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food
- Seeds of Doubt in Bill Gates Investments
- Gates Foundation Accused of Faking/Fabricating Data to Advance Political Goals
- More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation
- Video Transcript of Vandana Shiva on Insane Patents
- Explanation of What Bill Gates’ Patent Investments Do to Developing World
- Black Friday Film: What the Bill Gates-Backed Monsanto Does to Animals, Farmers, Food, and Patent Systems
- Gates Foundation Looking to Destroy Kenya with Intellectual Monopolies
- Young Napoleon Comes to Africa and Told Off
- Bill Gates Takes His GMO Patent Investments/Experiments to India
- Gates/Microsoft Tax Dodge and Agriculture Monopoly Revisited
- Beyond the ‘Public Relations’
- UK Intellectual Monopoly Office (UK-IPO) May be Breaking the Law
- “Boycott Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in China”
- The Gates Foundation Extends Control Over Communication with Oxfam Relationship
- Week of Monsanto