China, France, USA, Your Food, GMO’s and Wikileaks

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Dr. Olivier De Shutter, United Nations Envoy, warns that China’s ability to feed its population is waning:…

He told the Guardian his main concern was the decline of soil quality in China because of excessive use of fertilisers, pollution and drought. He noted that 37% of the nation’s territory was degraded and 8.2m hectares (20.7m acres) of arable land has been lost since 1997 to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and forestry programmes.

With climate change expected to increase price volatility and cut agricultural productivity by 5% to 10% by 2030, De Schutter said it was essential for China to wean itself off fossil-fuel intensive farming and adopt more sustainable agricultural techniques, including organic production, and to make even better use of its two great strengths: a huge strategic grain reserve and a large rural population.

He also cautioned against a shift towards industrial-scale farming, which increases economic competitiveness at the cost of natural productivity. “Small-scale farming is more efficient in its use of natural resources. I believe China can show that it is successful in feeding a very large population. ” However, he acknowledged that this may prove difficult in the future as more of China’s 200million farmers move to the cities.

Unfortunately the article in the Guardian UK did not mention the fact that China’s mega- hydro power projects like the Three Gorges Dam are also contributing to massive amounts of loss of the best farmland in the now flooded valleys above the dam site –  62,000 acres – which also forced the resettlement of over a million rural people.…

People who buck the Chinese government and organize protesters over deadly food don’t do so well in authoritarian regimes.  Zhao Lianhai, who complained about melamine contaminated milk formulas, that made 300,000 sick and killed at least 6 babies, was thrown in jail in 2009, convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in November for “inciting social disorder.”  see HuffPo… Zhao’s son was one of the toddlers who became ill with kidney stones after drinking the bad milk.   Melamine was the same chemical that was implicated in the 2006 – 2007 American pet food safety scandal and recall, which sickened and killed thousands of cats,  when it was used to adulterate imported wheat gluten, and spread from an importer – distributor in Las Vegas, ChemNutra,  to all over the country.…   Ground up melamine powder, a by product of coal processing normally used in plastics like laminated flooring,  was added not only to increase the volume but to fool the tests done for “protein” content.  

What did Zhao do to warrant Chinese jail time while trying to save sick babies ?

he organized a gathering of a dozen parents of sick children at a restaurant, held a paper sign in front of a court and factory involved in the scandal as a protest, and gave media interviews in a public place.


“I’m concerned this will have a chilling effect on consumers who want to complain,” he said. “You cannot protect the right to food without the right to freedom of expression and organisation.”

From the La Vida Locavore blog comes an interesting wikileaks cable on how our government feels about foreign food growing policy:  The United States of Monsanto.  

From the United States Embassy in Paris, France, Dec 14, 2007  

Subject:  France and the WTO AG BIOTECT CASE

1. (C) Summary: Mission Paris recommends that that the USG reinforce

our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by

publishing a retaliation list when the extend “Reasonable Time

Period” expires. In our view, Europe is moving backwards not

forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with

Austria, Italy and even the Commission.
In France, the “Grenelle”

environment process is being implemented to circumvent science-based

decisions in favor of an assessment of the “common interest.”

Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with

implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation. Moving to

retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to

EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.

In fact, the pro-biotech side in France — including within the farm

union — have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin

to turn this issue in France. End Summary.

2. (C) This is not just a bilateral concern. France will play a

leading role in renewed European consideration of the acceptance of

agricultural biotechnology and its approach toward environmental

regulation more generally. France expects to lead EU member states

on this issue during the Slovene presidency beginning in January and

through its own Presidency in the second half of the year. Our

contacts have made clear that they will seek to expand French

national policy to a EU-wide level and they believe that they are in

the vanguard of European public opinion in turning back GMO’s.

have noted that the member states have been unwilling to support the

Commission on sanctioning Austria’s illegal national ban. The GOF

sees the ten year review of the Commission’s authorization of MON 810

as a key opportunity and a review of the EFSA process to take into

account societal preferences as another (reftels).

3. (C) One of the key outcomes of the “Grenelle” was the decision to

suspend MON 810 cultivation in France. Just as damaging is the GOF’s

apparent recommitment to the “precautionary principle.” Sarkozy

publicly rejected a recommendation of the Attali Commission (to

review France’s competitiveness) to move away from this principle,

which was added to the French constitution under Chirac.

4. (C) France’s new “High Authority” on agricultural biotech is

designed to roll back established science-based decision making. The

recently formed authority is divided into two colleges, a scientific

college and a second group including civil society and social

scientists to assess the “common interest” of France. The

authority’s first task is to review MON 810. In the meantime,

however, the draft biotech law submitted to the National Assembly and

the Senate for urgent consideration, could make any biotech planting

impossible in practical terms. The law would make farmers and seed

companies legally liable for pollen drift and sets the stage for

inordinately large cropping distances. The publication of a registry

identifying cultivation of GMOs at the parcel level may be the most

significant measure given the propensity for activists to destroy GMO

crops in the field.

5. (C) Both the GOF and the Commission have suggested that their

respective actions should not alarm us since they are only

cultivation rather than import bans. We see the cultivation ban as a

first step, at least by anti-GMO advocates, who will move next to ban

or further restrict imports. (The environment minister’s top aide

told us that people have a right not to buy meat raised on biotech

feed, even though she acknowledged there was no possible scientific

basis for a feed based distinction.) Further, we should not be

prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting

seed business in Europe and because farmers, once they have had

experience with biotech, become its staunchest supporters.

6. Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target

retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a

collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the

worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and

must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an

early victory.

7. (C) President Sarkozy noted in his address in Washington to the

Joint Session of Congress that France and the United States are

“allies but not aligned.” Our cooperation with France on a range of

issues should continue alongside our engagement with France and the

EU on ag biotech (and the next generation of environmental related

trade concerns.) We can manage both at the same time and should not

let one set of priorities detract from the other.

And this is where I remind you that the reason they were so enthusiastic about trying to force GMO alfalfa onto the American organic farming community, is that part of the profit in alfalfa comes from growing and selling GMO seed, which was to be done in China.   And if you control the seed supply, you control the crop market.  There’s a difference between being concerned about the final product quality, and merely having a market monopoly which literally kills the competition.…

This is not a China bashing blog.  This is a Fascist, Authoritarian Corporate Profits Uber Alles bashing blog, because people in all countries are fighting together to keep the government from experimenting on them with tainting their food supplies, by saying that they favor things like terminator seeds or GMO’s that are crossed with other species or that need massive amounts of poisonous chemicals to be grown.  And there’s a lot of that bunk “science” being used by people with no understanding of science, but plenty of understanding of business,  as an excuse to be immoral.

We need other countries to help to act as firewalls, when the government of the United States is making lists and engaging in retaliation.  

1 comment

  1. … why does this not surprise anybody.

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