Bill Gates is investing in the fight against hunger which keeps on rising thanks to global warming. He offers GM foods and geo-engineering as a solution. That is when things become more complicated. The Guardian puts it nicely when saying: “Philanthropy is the enemy of justice“.
Now, Bill Gates is definitely not wrong when he said at the WEF that the crisis is not an excuse to cut funds for the poor. However, we are facing many crisis at the same time. Global Warming will make food prices go up even more in the future, Grist proposes. Maybe that would be a place where change should happen?
Back to GM foods. The advocators say that if you are hungry you don’t care about GM or not GM as long as there is food. Fair enough. But what is there is no food thanks to GM crops? The Guardian quotes the Karnataka State Farmers of India who say that “biotech crops are monocrops which are more vulnerable to disease and so need lashings of petrochemical pesticides, insecticides and fungicides – none of them cheap – and whose ruinous costs will rise with the price of oil, bankrupting small family farms first. Crop diseases mutate, meanwhile, and all the chemical inputs in the world can’t stop disease wiping out whole harvests of genetically engineered single strands.” Therefore, in the long run, GM crops are the exact opposite of food security. Let us not speak of how the fossil fuel intense use of GM crops backfires on climate change, and therefore on rising food prices, etc.
It is like in Muhammad Yunus’ book “Creating a World without Poverty”, where he describes how his Grameen bank is different from let’s say the World Bank because they do not put up conditions for the money they lend. That is the central problem we have with charity. It’s conditional in the sense that we say: “We will help you but we know best how to do so”. Going back to the GM example, this kind of charity we are seeing is the opposite of fairness: all GM crops seeds are owned by only a handful of (Western!) companies. Who will benefit from this deal, what do you think?
I know at least Bill and other philanthropists like him are investing some of their money in good (well…) causes. But like the Guardian states rightly: “the point is that the poor are not begging us for charity, they are demanding justice.” I mean, how again did he get that rich anyway?
Read more about how Western companies make a business from selling seeds to the poor: Seeds Running Through Fingers
Picture by muppet, thank you!