The Secret Deal that Threatens the Food on Your Plate

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A controversial trade deal between the EU and the US is now being negotiated. The biggest in history, it has the power to affect every part of the food chain.  Untangling the EU-US trade talks : What are the big concerns for food & farming?  What might be the consequences for our food and farming?

The Secret Deal that Threatens the Food on Your Plate

Published on Mar 19, 2014

 

Why is TTIP more than a trade agreement?

Naming Names – Ninety Companies Destroying the Planet

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Naming Names: The 90 Companies Destroying Our Planet

 Jon Queally,
Previously Published by Common Dreams

Analysis highlights the small number of profit-driven entities that are driving us towards destruction, but can a climate revolution from below challenge their rule?

90 companies

Chevron Texaco was the leading emitter among investor-owned companies, causing 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions to date, with Exxon not far behind at 3.2%. In third place, BP caused 2.5% of global emissions to date. (Guardian)

Narrow it down to the real power-brokers and decision-makers—the CEO’s of fossil fuel companies or the energy ministers from the largest petro-states—says climate researcher Richard Heede, and the actual individuals most responsible for the political world’s continued refusal to address the planetary crisis of climate change “could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.”

In a newly compeleted study by Heede and his colleagues at the Climate Accountability Institute, their analysis shows that a mere 90 companies, some private and some state-owned, account for a full two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions that are now driving perilous rates of global warming.

Offered in advance to the Guardian newspaper, which created an interactive representation of the study’s findings, the report comes as climate negotiators from around the world continue talks in Warsaw, Poland this week in the latest (what looks so far like a failed) attempt to solidify an emissions agreement designed to stave off the worst impacts of climate change this century.

As the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg reports:

Between them, the 90 companies on the list of top emitters produced 63% of the cumulative global emissions of industrial carbon dioxide and methane between 1751 to 2010, amounting to about 914 gigatonne CO2 emissions, according to the research. All but seven of the 90 were energy companies producing oil, gas and coal. The remaining seven were cement manufacturers.

The list of 90 companies included 50 investor-owned firms – mainly oil companies with widely recognised names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP , and Royal Dutch Shell and coal producers such as British Coal Corp, Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton.

Some 31 of the companies that made the list were state-owned companies such as Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom and Norway’s Statoil.

Nine were government run industries, producing mainly coal in countries such as China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea and Poland, the host of this week’s talks.

Though the global public has been flooded with one scientific research paper after another warning of the perils of not addressing the role of carbon emissions, experts agree that the political will on the state, national, and global level has simply not been created.

The reason for that, of course, is the stranglehold that the very profitable fossil fuel companies—whether state-owned  entities or private corporations—retain on the political systems within which they operate. At the global level, that political system is known as the United Nations, but so far the talks taking place in Warsaw are seeing almost no progress on a deal. On Wednesday, the world’s poorest nation’s walked out of the COP19 talks and the wealthiest nations—including the US, Canada, Australia, and the EU states—showing less and less courage despite the increasingly dire warnings from experts and scientists.

Michael Mann, a U.S. climate scientist who spoke to the Guardian about the possible impact of the list, said he hoped it would bring greater scrutiny to the gas, oil and coal companies who are most responsible for past emissions because these are the same companies poised to continue burning the vast carbon reserves still in the ground. “What I think could be a game changer here is the potential for clearly fingerprinting the sources of those future emissions,” he said. “It increases the accountability for fossil fuel burning. You can’t burn fossil fuels without the rest of the world knowing about it.”

And Al Gore added: “This study is a crucial step forward in our understanding of the evolution of the climate crisis. The public and private sectors alike must do what is necessary to stop global warming. Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution.”

The alternative, however—as almost zero progress, and possibly lost ground, has been the result of the last several rounds of international climate talks—is a global uprising from below, led by social justice organizations, environmentalists, and civil society who are willing to act where governments and the private sector have refused.

As Michael T. Klare, an energy expert and professor at Hampshire College, wrote earlier this week at TomDispatch:

If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on “unconventional” fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble.  In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution.

None of us can predict the future, but when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment.  Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support.  With an awareness of climate change growing and as intensifying floodsfiresdroughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions.  Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.

In fact, it is possible to imagine such a green energy revolution erupting in one part of the world and spreading like wildfire to others.  Because climate change is going to inflict increasingly severe harm on human populations, the impulse to rebel is only likely to gain in strength across the planet.  While circumstances may vary, the ultimate goal of these uprisings will be to terminate the reign of fossil fuels while emphasizing investment in and reliance upon renewable forms of energy.  And a success in any one location is bound to invite imitation in others.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

The Koch Brothers’ Amazing Climate Change Denial

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Climate Change, Propaganda  and the Koch Brothers.

What can we believe? Our own eyes? The press?  Much has been said and written about the power of the media, and the rich whose tool it is to achieve their ends. Furthermore the very rich corporations are welcome lobbyists, welcomed to political conferences. They fund think-tanks and ensure their ‘truth’ is perceived as fact, even when scientific evidence proves otherwise. Perhaps the most dangerous example is that of the growing denial of climate change resulting from human activity.

This short animation details the effort of billionaires oil barons Charles & David Koch to undermine belief in climate change and prevent legislation that threatens their profits. By pouring money into bogus scientific studies and funding third parties such as Think Tanks and Front Groups (posing as everything from Seniors groups to Women’s groups) the public is led to believe a genuine scientific debate is raging. In truth, as one climate denier candidly admits, those doubting the science are just a small, if brilliantly coordinated, minority.

The piece was made by Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham and incorporates footage from his 55 min. documentary The Billionaires’ Tea Party (2011).

Big thanks to the visual effects team at Hungry Beast  as well to the team at Greenpeace for their great research on the Koch Brothers

GM Food, Is it Feeding the Needy or the Greedy – Banana Splits

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Feeding The Hungry, Or The Greedy?

As Uganda prepares to legalise GMO, supporters say it will save a farming industry gripped by epidemic blights, and help alleviate hunger and malnutrition. Opponents believe it is a neo-colonial conspiracy that connects the White House to billion-dollar multinational corporate greed.

BY ILYA GRIDNEFF

 MIRANDA GRANT FOR THE GLOBAL MAIL, previously published here

Alice Kulabigwo tending her crops in Luwero

The midday sun is searing over Alice Kulabigwo’s farm in Luwero, north of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, as she inspects the blackened stem of one of her banana plants. It’s infected with Black Sigatoka, a major scourge for Ugandan farmers. Nearby, her cassava plants are also frequently destroyed by “brown streak”, an insidious disease which turns the starchy root vegetable into a putrefied soggy brown mess.

A retired teacher, Kulabigwo, like eight out of 10 Ugandans, has also farmed part-time for years to help make ends meet. Now she tends fulltime to a 10-hectare plot at her ancestral home, growing cassava, beans, pumpkin, a few pawpaw trees, and Uganda’s staple food, the banana.

Kulabigwo also knows all about the devastating Banana Xanthomonas Wilt that rapidly kills entire banana plants and ruins the soil around them. In some areas of the country wilt and Black Sigatoka have forced almost every farmer to destroy their banana crops. Brown streak afflicts 60-70 per cent of Uganda’s cassava growers, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

For Uganda, the world’s largest consumer of bananas and the second largest banana producer, these diseases are economically devastating. Uganda loses five per cent of its GDP to malnutrition and hunger according to a recent government study. At the same time, the country depends on agriculture for a quarter of its GDP.

“There are very many people who don’t have [food],” says Kulabigwo. “Some people are hungry, are starving.”

Depending on whom you speak to, this may all soon change, with Uganda poised to open its borders to genetically modified organisms (GMO). A series of trials of genetically modified (GM) crops specifically engineered to be resistant to wilt, brown streak and a host of diseases that are blighting Uganda’s crops has yielded promising results. Proponents say GMO would take Uganda’s subsistence farming to a viable commercial level, while also feeding the local population.

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Banana and cassava farmer Alice Kulabigwo, in Luwero, Uganda

But there are also opponents of GMO, eager to warn farmers of rapacious multinationals which they say will not hesitate to patent seeds, jack up prices, and lay waste to the country’s biodiversity and subsistence-farming culture. Still others regard the push for deregulation of GMO as a neo-colonial conspiracy that connects the White House to this billion-dollar multinational corporate greed.

In Luwero, Kulabigwo admits she does not know whether GMOs are good or bad.

“I think it’s God’s plan. I cannot express myself on this [GMO],” she says driving a hoe into the ground at the base of a cassava plant.

She stops her work and looks up. “You tell me. Is it good?”

The Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, which would set the legal framework for Ugandan farmers to buy GM seeds and plants, and to export GM produce, has been in approval limbo since 2003. Some say that this is just how long things can take in Africa, where the passage of legislation is frequently stalled by cabinet reshuffles, elections, MPs fearing backlash from their constituents, the prioritising of other bills or the lack of education about GMO among both the public and MPs.

Progress seemed to have been made in recent months. Scientists at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) told The Global Mail that GM seeds and foods, such as a vitamin-A-enriched banana or disease-resistant cotton may be available in Uganda as early as mid-2014. A second reading of the bill has long been scheduled for September. If it passes, the bill will go to a vote at a third reading, then to President Yoweri Museveni to be signed off and made into law.

Early this month, however, reading of the bill was once again delayed with the release of a full parliamentary schedule. And Museveni’s recent hiring of prominent anti-GMO advisor Morrison Rwakakamba as a Special Presidential Assistant has sent mixed messages to all interested parties, including parliament and the public.

Meanwhile, a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that delaying the approval for planting GM bananas potentially costs Uganda between US$179 million and US$365 million a year.

The uncertainty has been enough to exhaust, at least temporarily, the patience of agritech-industry Goliath, Monsanto. In 2009 and 2010, the company began well-publicised trials of several strains of GM cotton, ready for use with the company’s own pesticide, Roundup.

Monsanto’s former country representative Wilfred Kamulegeya says the trial was halted when it stopped funding the partnership with Uganda’s NARO.

“The trial would most likely restart when the bill passes,” he says.

The World Bank’s Millennium Science Initiative, launched in 2006, also had invested in the development of GM technology in Uganda, providing $US33 million over six years to Ugandan universities and research institutions, to enable them to pursue agricultural biotechnology schemes. But this became an example of how difficult it can be to drive a project to completion in Uganda, when the program, which was jointly funded by the Ugandan government, was cut without warning in the 2012 budget.

Deputy Agriculture Minister and science and technology advisor to the President, Mijumbi Nyiira, told The Global Mail that the government is committed to GMO, but that advocates for the technology must be patient.

“It may be frustrating for the scientists, but if they are true Ugandans and patriotic, they should also be realistic. We are not passing the bill because they are frustrated. We should pass the bill because it is in the interest of the people,” he says.

Despite interruptions to funding, research into the benefits of GM crops for Uganda continues with several ongoing trials. Ugandan scientist Enoch Kikulwe, now based at Goettingen University in Germany, believes using GMO for Uganda’s banana production will alleviate poverty, and contribute to overall sustainable social and economic development.

ILYA GRIDNEFF FOR THE GLOBAL MAIL

GM cassava trial site at the NCRR headquarters

In an ongoing trial, launched in 2010, National BioResource Project (NBRP) scientists have used protein from two sweet pepper genes to create a banana resistant to wilt. But Kikulwe cautions against over-optimism about the results of contained, small-scale trials.

“Although GM bananas look promising for large-scale multiplication and dissemination, empirical evidence of the success of such organisms is still limited,” he says.

Kikulwe says losses caused by banana disease make the opportunity cost to farmers of not using the GM banana technology extremely high.

His research into the feasibility of vitamin A-enriched bananas, through a GMO process of “bio-fortification” conducted by NARO, found it would be a positive step for Uganda if the scheme proved to be “cost effective”.

According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency, which can cause blindness and weakening of the immune system, remains a public-health problem in Uganda. Anaemia (an abnormally low red-blood-cell count) is an associated problem, and vitamin-A deficiency is “unacceptably high” in children under five years of age.

Kikulwe, is positive about the trials, and underscores the potential benefits of biofortification.

“Biofortifying bananas, especially cooking banana, results in huge health benefits and has positive impacts on household well-being in both the highlands and lowlands regions of Uganda,” he says.

Uganda’s NARO is promoting such work to non-government organisations (NGOs), journalists, politicians, consumers and farmers in efforts to get the Biotechnology and Biosafety bill enacted.

At the end of July, The Global Mail attended a field trip to NARO’s National Crops Resources Research Institute (NCRRI) headquarters at Namulonge, 30 kilometres north of Uganda’s capital Kampala.

Huddled onto a dented minibus we drive an hour or so and are shown the laboratories and field trials NARO says prove the benefits of introducing a GMO cassava to Ugandan farmers. Like the banana, cassava, a starchy, tasteless root in its unprocessed form, is a staple of the Ugandan diet, and the plant comes under constant attack from brown streak disease.

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The root of a cassava plant infected with brown streak disease

Surrounded by genetically modified cassava plants, grandmother of five and chairperson of the Luwero District Farmers Association, Magaret Bamukawa, is politely arguing with one of the NCCRI’s field-trial managers.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” she asks with a cynical look.

“I am sure,” John Odipio says, standing waist-high in the verdant field. He turns over the leaf of a non-genetically modified cassava plant to show the scores of bugs – killers known as ‘white fly’, they transmit brown streak and the African cassava mosaic virus – underneath; he then turns over another leaf, of a GM cassava plant, on which there is no white fly to be seen.

With us is British author, journalist and environmentalist Mark Lynas, who last year famously, or infamously depending on where you sit, made a landmark apology for his once “anti-science position” of opposing GMOs when he was associated with Greenpeace.

A former anti-GMO activist who destroyed GMO field tests such as the one in which we stand, Lynas is now a leading promoter of GMO.

“I think when the message gets through to Europeans that productivity does matter to small-hold farmers in Uganda then they will come around and support this agenda,” Lynas tells journalists.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a major promoter, supporter and funder of GMO, flew Lynas to Kampala to speak at the first ever ‘National Bio-Safety Conference for Uganda’, a three-day talkfest held at the end of July at the country’s premier university, Makerere.

ILYA GRIDNEFF FOR THE GLOBAL MAIL

Mark Lynas is speaking to Magaret Bamukawa, chairperson of Luwero District Farmers Association, during a tour of the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NCRR) headquarters

During the conference, Lynas urged Ugandans to support the bill: “The media in Europe, the UK and America use this term ‘Frankenstein foods’, coined 15 or so years ago, to demonise the technology from the very beginning. I think the situation is changing though. Scientists have been very slow to wake up, but they have now realised that they could lose an entire appeal for technological progress to public superstition, unless they could more successfully inform society about their work,” he says.

Bamukawa leaves convinced of the safety of GMOs.

“I first heard of it [GMO] a decade ago. After the three-day conference and the field visit to the laboratories, I am convinced GMO is not really a danger to the Uganda consumer or farmer,” she says.

But the message of Lynas and others has met with less success elsewhere. Sarah Namubiru, District Agricultural Officer for Luwero, says she regularly encounters farmers who are against GMO.

“They refer to GMO as something that is coming from outside Uganda, it is foreign and they are saying these people are always coming, they’ve always exploited us,” she says.

“For them they don’t know what a GMO is. There is no wide publicity. They hear rumours and rely on that.”

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Sarah Namubiru stands on her land

Some opponents of introducing GMO to Uganda claim that the technology will not significantly address food-security concerns. Associate Professor Matthew Schnurr, a Canada-based researcher, says that central to the debate in Uganda is an ideological feud between competing development theories on how to reduce global hunger and malnutrition.

“GMOs are a solution that fit within the view that hunger is a technical problem; that is, the best means of combating hunger is to increase yields. But data shows that the real roots of hunger are political. I’d like to see Uganda engage in a broader conversation around how best to tackle the issue of hunger that recognises these political roots,” he says.

For Dr Olupot Giregon, a senior lecturer at Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and one of the country’s most outspoken critics of the bill and GMO, the root of hunger in Uganda is not food supply, but corruption, poor planning and mismanagement.

“Food security is more about economics, social justice, good governance, fairness and peace. Is GMO going to solve all those problems?” he says.

Giregon points to the collapse of the textile industry in the 1970s, and the prolonged political instability that followed. Any current food crisis, he says, has more to do with a lack of infrastructure or modern techniques or poor soil quality.

“The kidnapping and rape by the Lord’s Resistance Army meant people were too scared to go into the fields,” he says. “How will GMO solve this?

Giregon is no stranger to controversy; for example, he’s known for having branded colleagues who support GMO and the bill as “bio-terrorists.” He also draws a straight line between the White House, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), companies like Monsanto and the GMO push in Uganda.

“Corporate America is the one in charge. The traditional America cannot exist without these ‘dirty deals’ [between government and big business]. They have let the corporations run the government.”

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Luwero district, Uganda

Topping the list of those opposed to GMO in Uganda is non-government organisation, The Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), a civil-society umbrella organisation for 45 Ugandan NGOs.

PELUM’s donors come mainly from Europe, and include Oxfam, Christian group Bread for the World, and German Catholic organisation Misereor, and international aid and development agency, Caritas.

While acknowledging PELUM’s “foreign support”, its spokesman, Richard Mugisha, describes the GMO push in Uganda as “neo colonial”, a contemporary form of slavery for African farmers.

“Our concerns centre on agriculture, environment and economic degradation. GMOs will lead to perpetual enslavement of small farmers by corporations, by controlling all the seed and forcing us to buy on their terms, season upon season,” he says.

“We fear that contamination of our agriculture and seed with GMO will mean the loss of export markets to countries in Europe that have already rejected GMO foods.”

Mugisha, who earlier this year lodged a formal submission against the bill to the Parliamentary Committee of Science and Technology, says seeds patented by corporations that sell them will ultimately bring higher costs to the farmer.

Much of the macro structure for GMO research funding, promotion, and lobbying comes from outside Uganda, via a myriad of organisations, most of which were unwilling to discuss their work with The Global Mail. In fact, hostility, sensitivity and plain evasiveness, characterised our discussions with the major supporters of GMO in Uganda.

According to Schnurr, USAID is the single most important organisation supporting GMO research in Uganda. He points to one of the world’s leading programs, the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP), which was set up in 1991 as the research arm of USAID’s Collaborative Biotechnology Initiative.

ILYA GRIDNEFF FOR THE GLOBAL MAIL

Test vials for GM cassava, yam and sweet potato at the NCCRI headquarters

Designed to promote biotechnology in Asia and East Africa, ABSP II (the second phase of the project) is a scheme run through Cornell and Michigan universities and has more than 20 partners from the private and public sectors, including USAID and Monsanto.

“ABSP II acts primarily as a liaison between NARO and Monsanto, the major technology donor for much of the GM materials used by NARO scientists,” Schnurr says.

stated aim of USAID is to promote and integrate GMO in developing countries. The agency is also open aboutpursuing the interests of American corporations. It has stated: “U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world.” Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and other leading biotech companies are headquartered in the US, where the majority of global GM food production takes place.

When The Global Mail requested an interview with USAID, both its Kampala office and Washington headquarters refused, but offered a brief statement via a spokesman:

“The end goal is to improve farmers’ income and food security status through improvements in agricultural productivity.

“USAID does not fund any NGOs to pursue GMOs in Uganda” the statement says.

However, the spokesman states that USAID does channel funding through a grant to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In turn IFPRI “works with local partners, including public, private, and civil society entities, to advance the dialogue on biosafety”.

IFPRI manages the Uganda-based Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) that has “partnered with local institutions and USAID-funded projects to develop biotechnology and biosafety capacity in Uganda”.

Another group promoting GMO in Uganda is the Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (SCIFODE) that according to its website, focuses on “the demystification of biotechnology in Uganda … through communication and public engagement”.

Since 2007, SCIFODE has regularly held GMO workshops and field trips, including the NCRRI field trip and biotech conference we attended and, again according to the site, has “close linkages with parliament”.

A representative for SCIFODE, which also funded the first national biotechnology conference, would tell us only that it “did not promote [GMO] but demystified issues on GMO”.

Washington-DC-based IFPRI, in turn, says on its website that it promotes, “sustainable solutions for ending poverty and hunger”. Its donors include numerous bodies, from Pepsico, to USAID, to Yale University, to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2010 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation disclosed that it had bought 500,000 Monsanto shares, which were then worth around $23 million, and these have grown in value to approximately $50 million. South Africa-based agricultural watchdog the African Centre for Biosafety also revealed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was teaming up with agribusiness multinational Cargill, on a $10 million GMO project to “develop the soya value chain” in Mozambique.

After exchanging several emails with Amy Enright, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation communications officer, seeking an interview about the GMO legislation and information about its funding in Uganda, all she could only offer was a link to a blog post about Rwanda’s agricultural success because, she said, “I don’t have anyone immediately available.” The Foundation’s Africa director, Laurie Lee also did not respond to requests for an interview.

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A man and boy head to Saturday market, just outside Luwero town

Pro-GMO group the Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium, which has been described by its chairman, and biotech entrepreneurErostus Nsubuga, as a coalition of policymakers, scientists, private-sector leaders, government and civil-society groups, didn’t respond to emailed questions about its relationship with the Uganda National Council for Science & Technology, a government agency with which it shares an office.

The UNCST national guidelines for GMO field trials acknowledge in the 2006 and 2007 reports that they “are highly grateful to USAID Uganda Mission for providing the financial support through PBS that enabled the production of these manuals”. A UNCST report in 2011acknowledges the PBS but with no mention of USAID.

Despite a reluctance to discuss the topic, the US government has shown itself to be unwavering in its support of bringing GMO to developing countries. WikiLeaks released US cables in 2010 that revealed prolonged lobbying of the Vatican to persuade the Pope to support GMO foods. Similar cables revealed US officials in France and Germany had urged Washington to devise penalties and retributive responses to European countries that rejected GMO.

It is a similar story in Africa: WikiLeaks revealed that the US embassy in Accra had requested $13,700 to engage a biotechnology expert to spend a week promoting GMO, “as public opinion in Ghana is divided”.

For his part, Minister Nyiira acknowledges the outside influences, but says it’s the foreign-funded NGOs that are “confusing and misleading” the debate.

“My position, and it is the position of the ministry, [is that] we are not going to sell our national interests because of other people’s interests,” says Nyirra.

Schnurr, who has been studying Uganda’s GMO debate for four years is still baffled by many aspects of it.

“It is still incredibly difficult to understand who everyone is, who is funding who, who is making the decisions, which third party or intermediary is related to which government organisation or research centre’s trial,” he says.

“There are complex layers of funding arrangements, intermediary organisations, as well as myriad formal and informal relationships connecting government, corporate capital, research scientists, development agencies and lobby groups – all enrolled in promoting and maintaining the consensus towards [allowing] GM in Uganda,” Schnurr says.

MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko, vice chairman of Uganda’s Parliamentary Committee of Science and Technology, says it is not the first time external forces have competed to shape Ugandan government policy.

“In Uganda we are not self-reliant. All these government policies are supported by development partners like USAID and others. It is not specifically about this bill … they’ve been our partners for all the time.”

Ssekitoleko is scrutinising the recommendations in the bill and will be presenting them to parliament in a report that was due in September. He argues that the most important task is to remove the emotion that has hijacked the debate.

“We think they have good intentions. But if there are bad intentions we shall detect it,” he says.