By Dr. Mercola
A recent commentary in Education Week takes a fresh look at the Gates Foundation's philanthropy. The money it spends on all kinds of projects around the world is no small chunk of change--$26 billion since its inception in 1994 has been donated to help developing countries and the United Nations fund world health goals1.
Unfortunately, some of the chosen projects appear to clash with the Foundation's underlying goals, such as its partnership with the biotech giant Monsanto. Besides questionable partnerships, the foundation and Gates himself also have personal investments in some of the projects they fund.
The featured article discusses "philanthropic leverage," or "the idea that you can use a little money to access a lot of money," stating that this is exactly what the Gates Foundation is doing2:
"Gates' leveraged philanthropy model is a public-private partnership to improve the world, partly through targeted research support but principally through public advocacy and tax-free lobbying to influence government policy. The goal of these policies is often to explicitly support profitability for corporate investors, whose enterprises are seen by the Gates Foundation as advancing human good. However, maximum corporate profit and public good often clash when its projects are implemented. "
I have already gone on record stating Bill Gates might be one of the world's most destructive do-gooders. He seems completely oblivious of the fundamental flaws in the science behind genetically engineered (GE) foods, for example. GE crops have been shown to be far less nutritious than conventional and organic counterparts, in addition to destroying soil composition (to learn more, see my interview with Dr. Don Huber). How is that alleviating global malnutrition and disease?
Conflicts of Interest Rampant in Gates' Charitable Work
The featured article also highlights the many obvious conflicts of interest plaguing the Gates Foundation and its founder. As already mentioned, the Gates Foundation has partnered with Monsanto—a company that seeks to replace sustainable agricultural practices with its own patented genetically engineered seeds, which must be re-purchased each planting season.
The global agricultural "charity" work performed by these two is far from charitable; rather the end result will be a monopoly of the food supply and entire nations, as they effectively strip poor nations of their food sovereignty.
Another partner is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)—the same company that just plead guilty in the largest health fraud case in US history. Through their partnership with the Gates Foundation, GSK "centrally controls enormous world funds for purchase, pricing, and delivery of vaccines for world public health," the featured article states3.
Both the Foundation and Bill Gates also own stock and profit financially from their partner corporations. For example, in the second quarter of 2010, the Gates Foundation purchased 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million—a decision that met with heavy criticism once it leaked out.
"[T]he Foundation owns a profit-generating portfolio of stocks which would seem to work against the Foundation's declared missions, such as the Latin American Coca-Cola FEMSA distributorship and five multinational oil giants operating in Nigeria," the featured article reveals4. "These corporate investments, now moved to a blind trust whose trustees are Bill and Melinda Gates, are collaterally supported by the Foundation's tax-free lobbying and advocacy activities."
The "Hidden" Media Influence of the Gates Foundation
The Foundation also funds large media organizations like ABC and The Guardian, thereby influencing the health related stories that end up seeing the light of day. According to an article published last year in the Seattle Times5:
"To garner attention for the issues it cares about, the foundation has invested millions in training programs for journalists. It funds research on the most effective ways to craft media messages. Gates-backed think tanks turn out media fact sheets and newspaper opinion pieces. Magazines and scientific journals get Gates money to publish research and articles. Experts coached in Gates-funded programs write columns that appear in media outlets from The New York Times to The Huffington Post, while digital portals blur the line between journalism and spin.
The efforts are part of what the foundation calls "advocacy and policy." Over the past decade, Gates has devoted $1 billion to these programs, which now account for about a tenth of the giant philanthropy's $3 billion-a-year spending."
Uncritical support of genetically engineered crops and an emphasis on technological fixes for health problems, such as vaccines instead of improved hygiene and sanitation, are examples of the one-sided propaganda the Gates Foundation promulgates. It's not all bad, of course. Bill Gates' money has certainly gone to some worthy projects along the way, but it appears what began as a sincere attempt to help society has, in more recent years, given way to primarily supporting the status quo of the richest and most powerful industries on the planet, to the detriment of those they claim to be the beneficiaries of their "charity."
British GE Crop Scientists Get $10 Million Grant from Gates
According to a recent report by BBC News, the Gates Foundation has given a grant of $10 million to researchers trying to genetically engineer corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertilizer. According to BBC News6:
"The John Innes Centre is trying to engineer cereal crops that could get nitrogen from the air—as peas and beans do—rather than needing chemical ammonia spread on fields. If successful, it is hoped the project could revolutionize agriculture and, in particular, help struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa - something the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is keen to do."
Of course, the stated intention is always to help struggling farmers, but based on the poor track record of genetically engineered crops so far, one has to wonder why such a wealthy foundation as Gates' refuses to focus on sustainable agriculture, and insists on supporting the development of expensive technical solutions that are completely contrary to Nature? Could it be because multi-national corporations such as Monsanto cannot profit from sustainable organic agriculture?
Monsanto's History Marred by Scandal
In the following video, Elizabeth Wahl and Abby Martin discuss several of the biggest scandals linked to Monsanto, including:
- Aspartame, which was approved despite evidence linking it to potential health hazards
- Bovine growth hormone
- DDT, a toxic insecticide manufactured by Monsanto
- Genetically engineered foods, and Monsanto's undue influence over legislation
Will Congress Let Monsanto Write its Own Rules?
A perfect example of Monsanto's insidious influence over legislation is the latest attempt to get policy riders added to the U.S. farm bill that would completely demolish the few safeguards still left in place to protect human health and the environment. Andrew Kimbrell breaks it down and spells it out in a recent Huffington Post article7. They've even inserted a rider that would establish an acceptable level of contamination of genetically engineered material in non-GE crops.
Here's an excerpt, but I highly recommend reading his article in its entirety:
"Deliberately buried in the House Agriculture Committee's voluminous discussion draft of the 2012 Farm Bill, these significant changes to the Plant Protection Act (PPA)... will counter the gains that have been made to protect our food supply and the farmers who grow it. The provisions (Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014) would force the rushed commercialization of GE crops, create a backdoor approval for Dow's "Agent Orange" corn and eliminate any meaningful review of the impacts of these novel crops.
... These changes, if allowed to become law, would have numerous negative impacts and outlaw responsible governance. For example, one proposed rider would outlaw any review of GE crops' impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental laws. This suite of "biotech riders" would have a devastating impact on our country's protection of endangered species. It would also outlaw review by any agency other than the USDA.
As a result, the potential impacts of GE crops, including increased pesticide use, on endangered species and other wildlife would not be assessed by our expert wildlife agencies, allowing a GE crop approval to go forward, even if it would cause the extinction of a protected species.
... To make matters worse, the proposed riders include several means for "backdoor" approvals of GE crops. One rider would allow potentially dangerous GE crops to be commercialized without necessary safety assessments by establishing deliberately impossible deadlines for USDA to meet. Under this provision, if USDA fails to review and approve a GE crop within the short agency deadline, an immediate "default" approval and commercialization would be granted.
... The riders also open up a proposed second backdoor approval opportunity for GE crops that have gone through an initial public comment period and are currently under review by the USDA. Under this condition, if USDA is unable to approve or deny a crop application within 90 days of the Farm Bill passage, then the crop would be deemed approved... one of the crops that this could apply to is Dow's 2,4-D corn. Some know it better as "Agent Orange" corn, a GE crop engineered to withstand exposure to one of the chemicals in the infamous Vietnam-era herbicide."
Biotech Giants Turn on Each Other Over $
In related news, Monsanto and DuPont are now embroiled in a patent infringement lawsuit8. According to Bloomberg9:
"DuPont knew as early as 2006 that its GAT soybeans didn't grow as well as Monsanto's Roundup Ready beans and didn't make the information public until 2009, George C. Lombardi, an attorney for Monsanto, said today at the start of a patent trial in St. Louis. Monsanto is suing DuPont for adding the Roundup Ready trait to make its product work, a patent infringement it said is worth as much as $1 billion.
"For years, they told the world GAT was going to work," Lombardi, a Chicago-based lawyer with Winston & Strawn LLP, told the jury in Monsanto's opening arguments. "When it failed, they relied on the Roundup Ready product."
DuPont claims there was no infringement because St. Louis- based Monsanto got the Roundup Ready patent fraudulently. Monsanto intentionally withheld information about the genetic sequence that made its Roundup Ready technology work from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said Leora Ben-Ami, a DuPont lawyer. That makes that patent invalid and unenforceable, she said. "
Ironically, when on the witness stand, Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant described his company as "a hometown champion of farmers," while referring to his competitor DuPont as "a chemical conglomerate." I sincerely doubt the farmers Monsanto has wrongfully sued for patent infringement as a result of contamination would agree with his self-assessment. Monsanto has a long history as one of the largest chemical companies on the planet.
In fact, according to St. Louis Today10, Grant explained that when Monsanto got approval for its genetic engineering technology, it was essentially just a chemical company looking for seeds in which to implant their Roundup Ready genes... They basically just created a technology that would allow them to increase their chemical sales.
Pesticide Drift a Form of Trespassing, Judge Rules
As just mentioned, Monsanto has also gained infamy by suing farmers for patent infringement when their crops become contaminated by pollen drift from fields growing genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops. So far, I only know of one case in which a farmer successfully fought back and won against the biotech giant. Most literally lose their farms. Which is why this next story is particularly interesting, as a judge recently ruled that pesticide drift is akin to trespassing, and is the responsibility of farmer11.
So why isn't pollen drift the liability of farmers growing genetically engineered crops? Time will tell if this first-of-its-kind ruling might have an impact on future GE contamination cases caused by pollen drift...
According to Cornucopia Institute12:
"Judge Charles Greenacre ruled Thursday that two farmers cannot use pesticides within 150 feet of an organic farm run by a neighbor... James and Georgia Hopper, farmers near Hotchkiss, had sprayed Fyfanon, a pesticide containing malathion, in 2010 in efforts to protect themselves against the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Georgia Hopper was hospitalized after becoming ill with the virus in 2006. Their property is near Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak's farm, which can lose its organic status if the presence of pesticide is detected. The couple started their farm to avoid food with pesticides because MacAlpine has leukemia and pesticides can suppress his immune system.
Greenacre ruled that the Hoppers have a right to protect themselves from West Nile virus but that they applied Fyfanon without regard for MacAlpine and Bilchak's property rights. In his decision, he said the couple had a right not to have their property "invaded by third persons or things."
Genetically Engineered Corn Linked to Organ Failure, Study Shows
There's every reason to be concerned about such things as GE contamination of conventional and/or organic crops, and the many riders in the farm bill that will give the biotech industry carte blanche with their inventions and institute a legal limit for GE contamination in all foods. Not only do we need genetically engineered foods to be labeled, but we also must protect the ability to produce non-contaminated alternatives.
Because contrary to industry propaganda, which in no way is anchored in rigorous, non-biased science, genetically engineered foods have been linked to a wide variety of health problems in independently-funded studies. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences in 200913 found that three of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn varieties caused organ damage. The GE corn tested included:
- Mon 863
- Insecticide-producing Mon 810
- Roundup herbicide-absorbing NK 603
At the time, the study was the first, and the most comprehensive of its kind. According to The Inquisitr14:
"Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen and the study's lead author, stated: "[The data] clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system.
... Our study contradicts Monsanto conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMOs, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data."
... [T]he researchers have proven through their study that novel pesticides will still be present in food and feed, posing a grave health risk to consumers. Because of this and Monsanto's GMO corn being linked to organ failure, the authors have called for "an immediate ban on the import and cultivation of these GMOs and strongly recommend additional long-term (up to two years) and multi-generational animal feeding studies on at least three species to provide true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods."
Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day
The food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State - to prevent you from knowing what’s in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.
I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you’ve learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beets, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as certified organics do not permit GMO’s. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the biotech industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.