Debunking GE Myths



Pesticide Action Network Updates Service

Voices From the South Debunk GE Myths

June 20, 2022

A new report, Voices From the South, systematically refutes a number of
widely promoted myths about genetically engineered (GE) food. Released by
Pesticide Action Network North America and Food First just days before a
ministerial level agricultural conference promoting GE foods gets underway
in Sacramento, California, the report counters the claims of the biotech
industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that GE crops are a
solution to hunger in the Third World.

In the report, leading activists, scientists and farmers from countries as
diverse as Ethiopia, India and Ecuador argue that the development of GE
crops has not focused on feeding people but rather on securing market share
for the world's largest agrochemical/biotech companies. "Genetically
engineered crops are instruments of industrialized agriculture," said
Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group in Uruguay, one of the authors. "They
benefit the richest people in the world, not the hungriest. GE crops are
designed to take the control of food production away from local
communities, by creating greater dependence on agribusiness corporations
for seed and pesticides."

The report addresses six common myths spread by the biotech industry about
GE crops, with responses by leading Third World analysts. "You can break
down these myths into three basic components: Green washing, poor washing,
and hope dashing," said Anuradha Mittal, co-director of Food First, who is
from India. "Green washing suggests that biotech will create a world free
of pesticides; poor washing would have us believe that we must accept
genetically engineered crops if we are to feed the poor in the Third World;
and hope dashing claims there are no alternatives. But in this report, this
rhetoric is systematically dismantled by the very people GE crops are
supposed to benefit."

Research by Food First reveals that the industry claim that there is not
enough food to feed the hungry is not based in fact. The world today
produces more food per inhabitant than ever before. The real causes of
hunger are poverty, inequality and lack of access. Too many people are too
poor to buy the food that is available (but often poorly distributed) or
lack the land and resources to grow it themselves.

"What farmers in the developing world need are policies that give farming
communities control over their own resources and build on local ecological
knowledge," writes Timothy Byakola, also an author, who coordinates PAN
East Africa, "not another technological quick fix."

The authors note that there is already enough food to feed the world one
and a half times over, and that genetically engineered crops have caused
economic and ecological problems where they have been grown. The report
argues that the poor and hungry of the developing world need economic and
social policies that address the root causes of hunger in poverty and
inequality, not quick technological fixes that largely benefit foreign

The report highlights traditional farming methods that involve sustainable
use of land, water and seeds in a system that guarantees food sovereignty.
Current global trade and economic policies which force privatization,
centralization and commercialization are a threat to food sovereignty in
southern countries.

Voices from the South: The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on
Genetically Engineered Crops is published by Pesticide Action Network
(PANNA) and Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy, as
part of the work of both organizations to bring the views of grassroots
activists of the global south to the political debate about the risks and
costs of GE food.

Voices from the South is available online at .

Sources: Voices from the South, The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on
Genetically Engineered Crops, Ellen Hickey and Anuradha Mittal (editors),
June 2003, PANNA, 49 Powell St. #500 San Francisco, CA 94102, (415)
981-1771, .