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http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0602-02.htm

Quote:
Published on Monday, June 2, 2003 by the Guardian/UK

Bush's Evangelizing About Food Chills European Hearts

The Fight Over GM Crops Exposes the Weaknesses of Globalization

by Jeremy Rifkin

In case you thought that the Bush administration's rift with its European allies ended with the Iraqi military campaign, think again. The White House has now set its sights on something far more personal - the question of what kind of food Europeans should put on their table. President Bush has charged that the EU's ban on genetically modified food is discouraging developing countries from growing GM crops for export and resulting in increased hunger and poverty in the world's poorest nations. His remarks, made just days before the G8 meeting in Evian, have further chilled US-European relations.

Last month, the US government launched a formal legal challenge at the World Trade Organization to force the EU to lift its "de facto moratorium" on the sale of GM seeds and food in Europe. The EU has countered that there is no moratorium in place and points out that in the past year it has approved two applications for imports of GM seeds. Regardless, the new thrust by President Bush is likely to force another confrontation between the two superpowers - one whose long-term impact could be even more serious than the breach over Iraq.

For most Europeans, GM food is anathema. Although Europeans are worried about the potentially harmful environmental and health consequences, they are equally concerned about the cultural consequences. While Americans long ago accepted a corporate-driven fast food culture, in Europe food and culture are deeply entwined. Every region boasts its own culinary traditions and touts its local produce.

In a world of globalizing forces, increasingly controlled by corporate behemoths and bureaucratic regulatory regimes, the last vestige of cultural identity most Europeans feel they have some control over is their choice of food. That is why every public opinion poll conducted in Europe, including polls in the new candidate EU countries, show overwhelming public disapproval of GM food.

Global food companies doing business in Europe, such as McDonald's, Burger King and Coca-Cola, have responded to the public's aversion by promising to keep their products free of genetically modified traits. By forcing the issue, the Bush administration is stirring up a hornet's nest of public anger and resentment.

The White House has made a bad situation worse by suggesting that European opposition to GM food is tantamount to imposing a death sentence on millions of starving people in the third world. Denying poor farmers in developing countries a European market for GM food, says the White House, gives them no choice but to grow non-GM food and lose the commercial advantages that go hand-in-hand with GM food crops. President Bush's remarks on the many benefits of GM food appear more like a public relations release than a reasoned political argument.

Hunger in the third world is a complex phenomenon not likely to be reversed by the introduction of GM crops. First, 80% of undernourished children in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses. The hunger problem has more to do with the way arable land is utilized.

Today, 21% of the food grown in the developing world is destined for animal consumption. In many developing countries, more than a third of the grain is now being grown for livestock. The animals, in turn, will be eaten by the world's wealthiest consumers in the northern industrial countries. The result is that the world's richest consumers eat a diet high in animal protein, while the poorest people on earth are left with little land to grow food grain for their own families. And, even the land that is available is often owned by global agribusiness interests, further aggravating the plight of the rural poor. The introduction of GM food crops does nothing to change this fundamental reality.

Second, President Bush talks about the cost savings of planting GM food crops. What he conveniently ignores is that GM seeds are more expensive than conventional seeds and, because they are patented, farmers cannot save the new seeds for planting during the next growing season because those seeds belong to the biotech companies. By exercising intellectual property control over the genetic traits of the world's major food crops, companies such as Monsanto stand to make huge profits while the world's poorest farmers become increasingly marginalized.

Third, the White House alludes to the new generation of crops with genes whose proteins will produce vaccines, drugs and even industrial chemicals. The Bush administration cites the example of "golden rice", a new genetically engineered rice strain that contains an inserted gene that produces beta-carotene. Noting that half a million poor children around the world suffer from vitamin A deficiency and become blind, the US trade representative Robert Zoellick argues that to deny them this valuable food source would be immoral. The biotech industry has been singing the praises of the "miracle" rice for years, despite articles in scientific journals that say it simply doesn't work. To convert beta-carotene into vitamin A the body requires sufficient body protein and fat. Undernourished children lack the body protein necessary for the conversion.

What is equally galling to Europeans is President Bush's moralizing style. When the president said that "European governments should join - not hinder - the great cause of ending hunger in Africa", many European leaders were incensed. EU countries spend a larger percentage of their gross national income on foreign aid than the US. The US currently ranks 22nd in the percentage of its gross national income devoted to foreign aid - the lowest of any industrial nation.

Bush's misguided plan to force Europeans to accept GM food is likely to backfire. Indeed, it may well turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back for European-US relations. The battle over GM food is uniting the European public and giving people a new sense of their common European identity, while distancing them even further from their old ally across the Atlantic.

The struggle over GM food may also further diminish the already weakened status of the WTO. Even if the Organization eventually sides with the US and forces the EU to introduce GM food, the victory is likely to be pyrrhic because any WTO order to accept GM food is going to have no effect on European farmers, consumers and the food industry.

US strong-arming cannot make Europeans eat GM food. A European GM food boycott will only expose the underlying weakness of globalization and the existing trade protocols that accompany it. In the unfolding struggle between global commercial power and local cultural resistance, the GM food fight might turn out to be the test case that forces us to rethink the very basis of the globalization process.

Jeremy Rifkin is author of 'The Biotech Century' and President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

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Personally, I'm not too bothered if political relations between America and Europe become blurred. We'll just create our own major world superpower. With Blackjack!!! And hookers!! In fact, forget the major world superpower!!

Seriously though, I honestly believe that there's a huge rift between what the USA wants and what Europe wants. Don't take offense, but I would rather put the world in the hands of the EU than in the hands of America. This is one of those articles that makes me agree with my previous point. And to be very honest, I think the European Union is actually trying not to screw the world up. Environmentalism is hot on the agenda in Europe, and we're desperately trying to adopt renewable energy resources and all that other cool eco-friendly stuff. The USA, as it seems, is a little more reluctant to accept change, unless it reaps rewards. (i.e. $$$) i know it's a generalisation, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from.
 

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dontcha just love Jeremy Rifkin? I'm less diplomatic than he, I'm afraid my response to Resident Bush would be, "give up the pretzels and choke on some GM corn."
 

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I wrote the man before all this Iraq mess started and promised him if he went into Iraq without the UN I would campaign and vote against him. I fully intend to keep my promise. The man needs to be replaced by a more level head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Loki

Don't take offense, but I would rather put the world in the hands of the EU than in the hands of America.
What it be considered treason if I said I agreed with you? Believe me, I think about moving to Europe all the time. My wife is considering some post-doctoral research in Germany or France, so it might just happen, though not for another three years.
 

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I hope the FBI doesn't read all this.........

GM to do something about the hunger in the world ?

I think he's been listening to much to Monsanto....

*I hope this doesn't come accros as anti-americanism, I'm just as anti GMO as can be*
 

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<~~~ Traitor here too!

I wish our president would just work on things that could improve life for our sick and homeless people here in America instead of sticking his nose in the EU's business.

Not that I don't care about starving children in other countries, but President Bush shouldn't be giving demands to anyone when he doesn't even know all there is to know about GM foods.
 

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Just remember who to vote against come poll time. Investigate the candidates. Campaign for the good guys. Make a difference. Vote the dude out.
 

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i personally dont think Gore was any better than Bush. I'm not usually supportive of war...the whole concept and thought of it scares the crap out of me. I think in the Iraq/Saddam case though, the world is better of without someone like him...he was such a control freak

hmn...what happened to him anyways? is he still alive? dead? the U.S should spend more time trying to find Saddam. ah well...
 

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Well, you guys are welcome in Europe. The political situation is a bit better, and not so many terrorists have a grudge against Europe, and best of all - VEGAN STARBURST & SKITTLES!!!

I think that now I've mentioned the starburst, there'll be more traitors wanting to move to Europe
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by DirtDiva

<~~~ Traitor here too!

I wish our president would just work on things that could improve life for our sick and homeless people here in America instead of sticking his nose in the EU's business.

Not that I don't care about starving children in other countries, but President Bush shouldn't be giving demands to anyone when he doesn't even know all there is to know about GM foods.
http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0602-02.htm

Quote:
Published on Monday, June 2, 2003 by the Guardian/UK

Bush's Evangelizing About Food Chills European Hearts

The Fight Over GM Crops Exposes the Weaknesses of Globalization


by Jeremy Rifkin

In case you thought that the Bush administration's rift with its European allies ended with the Iraqi military campaign, think again. The White House has now set its sights on something far more personal - the question of what kind of food Europeans should put on their table. President Bush has charged that the EU's ban on genetically modified food is discouraging developing countries from growing GM crops for export and resulting in increased hunger and poverty in the world's poorest nations. His remarks, made just days before the G8 meeting in Evian, have further chilled US-European relations.

Last month, the US government launched a formal legal challenge at the World Trade Organization to force the EU to lift its "de facto moratorium" on the sale of GM seeds and food in Europe. The EU has countered that there is no moratorium in place and points out that in the past year it has approved two applications for imports of GM seeds. Regardless, the new thrust by President Bush is likely to force another confrontation between the two superpowers - one whose long-term impact could be even more serious than the breach over Iraq.

For most Europeans, GM food is anathema. Although Europeans are worried about the potentially harmful environmental and health consequences, they are equally concerned about the cultural consequences. While Americans long ago accepted a corporate-driven fast food culture, in Europe food and culture are deeply entwined. Every region boasts its own culinary traditions and touts its local produce.

In a world of globalizing forces, increasingly controlled by corporate behemoths and bureaucratic regulatory regimes, the last vestige of cultural identity most Europeans feel they have some control over is their choice of food. That is why every public opinion poll conducted in Europe, including polls in the new candidate EU countries, show overwhelming public disapproval of GM food.

Global food companies doing business in Europe, such as McDonald's, Burger King and Coca-Cola, have responded to the public's aversion by promising to keep their products free of genetically modified traits. By forcing the issue, the Bush administration is stirring up a hornet's nest of public anger and resentment.

The White House has made a bad situation worse by suggesting that European opposition to GM food is tantamount to imposing a death sentence on millions of starving people in the third world. Denying poor farmers in developing countries a European market for GM food, says the White House, gives them no choice but to grow non-GM food and lose the commercial advantages that go hand-in-hand with GM food crops. President Bush's remarks on the many benefits of GM food appear more like a public relations release than a reasoned political argument.

Hunger in the third world is a complex phenomenon not likely to be reversed by the introduction of GM crops. First, 80% of undernourished children in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses. The hunger problem has more to do with the way arable land is utilized.

Today, 21% of the food grown in the developing world is destined for animal consumption. In many developing countries, more than a third of the grain is now being grown for livestock. The animals, in turn, will be eaten by the world's wealthiest consumers in the northern industrial countries. The result is that the world's richest consumers eat a diet high in animal protein, while the poorest people on earth are left with little land to grow food grain for their own families. And, even the land that is available is often owned by global agribusiness interests, further aggravating the plight of the rural poor. The introduction of GM food crops does nothing to change this fundamental reality.

Second, President Bush talks about the cost savings of planting GM food crops. What he conveniently ignores is that GM seeds are more expensive than conventional seeds and, because they are patented, farmers cannot save the new seeds for planting during the next growing season because those seeds belong to the biotech companies. By exercising intellectual property control over the genetic traits of the world's major food crops, companies such as Monsanto stand to make huge profits while the world's poorest farmers become increasingly marginalized.

Third, the White House alludes to the new generation of crops with genes whose proteins will produce vaccines, drugs and even industrial chemicals. The Bush administration cites the example of "golden rice", a new genetically engineered rice strain that contains an inserted gene that produces beta-carotene. Noting that half a million poor children around the world suffer from vitamin A deficiency and become blind, the US trade representative Robert Zoellick argues that to deny them this valuable food source would be immoral. The biotech industry has been singing the praises of the "miracle" rice for years, despite articles in scientific journals that say it simply doesn't work. To convert beta-carotene into vitamin A the body requires sufficient body protein and fat. Undernourished children lack the body protein necessary for the conversion.

What is equally galling to Europeans is President Bush's moralizing style. When the president said that "European governments should join - not hinder - the great cause of ending hunger in Africa", many European leaders were incensed. EU countries spend a larger percentage of their gross national income on foreign aid than the US. The US currently ranks 22nd in the percentage of its gross national income devoted to foreign aid - the lowest of any industrial nation.

Bush's misguided plan to force Europeans to accept GM food is likely to backfire. Indeed, it may well turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back for European-US relations. The battle over GM food is uniting the European public and giving people a new sense of their common European identity, while distancing them even further from their old ally across the Atlantic.

The struggle over GM food may also further diminish the already weakened status of the WTO. Even if the Organization eventually sides with the US and forces the EU to introduce GM food, the victory is likely to be pyrrhic because any WTO order to accept GM food is going to have no effect on European farmers, consumers and the food industry.

US strong-arming cannot make Europeans eat GM food. A European GM food boycott will only expose the underlying weakness of globalization and the existing trade protocols that accompany it. In the unfolding struggle between global commercial power and local cultural resistance, the GM food fight might turn out to be the test case that forces us to rethink the very basis of the globalization process.

Jeremy Rifkin is author of 'The Biotech Century' and President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

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<WARNING> RANT AHEAD

Why is he worried about Europeans banning GM crops, when our own country is going to hell in a handbasket? My mother has a serious condition and is in need of surgery, and the pigs tell her they might can get around to her in SEPTEMBER. Forget that's she's in horrible pain, she'll just wait her turn. She has no insurance, so she's not important. This is health care in America.

All this happening, and our president is worried about what the Europeans have on their plates. Something is truly wrong with this picture. I think we need to stop worrying about everyone else and take a good look at our OWN country and our OWN problems, and quit trying to be the world's super hero.

End rant.

Btw, I'm a conservative, and used to have a lot of respect for our president, but it's this kind of garbage that makes me question everything I believe in.
 

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Apart from all afore mentioned criticism, I just have one question: the way Pres. Bush is arguing is that by allowing GM crops into the European Union, 3rd world farmers could also sell here. But WHY if the EU is already forced to DESTROY surplus from European farmers every year????? We already have too much even without GM!!! So where is the point? If we were to buy more, we would have to also destroy more, and the purpose of it would be exactly what?

All you traitors out there: do you think another president would be more "indepedant" of the industry and care more for consumers' wishes? Are there any promising candidates out there???

Do most Americans not mind GM food, or do they just not know about it?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by grain_girl

My mother has a serious condition and is in need of surgery, and the pigs tell her they might can get around to her in SEPTEMBER. Forget that's she's in horrible pain, she'll just wait her turn. She has no insurance, so she's not important. This is health care in America.
I know what you mean grain_girl. My Mom had cancer so many times and would surely be dead by now if she had lived in the States. Just considering all the EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE medicine she got for free (around 1400$ every 3 months), and all the surgeries and therapies, .. none of my family could have paid for all of that! That's really sad about your Mom, there should not be worries like these in an industrialized country.
 

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The EU has an agricultural policy which supports farmers. Farmers produce all they can, and surplus is bought by the EU. Or somehting like that. This keeps prices cheap, and means no shortages, though to be honest, I think that storing excess food is expensive, and so is purchasing it. However, it's a good system, as it runs on the "better too much than too little" philosophy. I think it's silly how wehave grain mountains when African kids starve to death as well.

But this bill is all about exports. If the EU bans GM, and America produces GM, then that's going to put a spanner in the works for American companies wishing to import their wares into Europe.

And I'm beginning to see Europe as the new global superpower that is responsible.
 

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--> off topic, but I could not resist, and yes, it's doola again


Quote:
Originally posted by marilynmonroe26

I'm not usually supportive of war...the whole concept and thought of it scares the crap out of me. I think in the Iraq/Saddam case though, the world is better of without someone like him...he was such a control freak
True, marilyn, he was a madman and in a way I am glad he's gone, too, but with the control freak gone, the door is wide open for Iranian fundamentalists, who are going to turn Iraq into another Iran or Afghanistan. And very soon, women will wonder whether they would not have been better off with the madman. Just like in Iran now, some women could kick their own a**es for supporting the oh-so-great Revolution. They used to wear mini skirts and go to colleges, now they are hidden behind shadors, but hey, they're "free"!
 
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