Via Campesina Denounces Gates Foundation, Monsanto Connection
By The Via Campesina
September 28th, 2010
A version of this piece originally appeared in The Via Campesina website.
La Via Campesina, a global peasant movement representing small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolk, rural women, youth and indigenous peoples, with 150 member organizations from 70 countries on five continents, has denounced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s recent acquisition of Monsanto Company shares. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994 by Microsoft founder William H. Gates, and today exerts a hegemonic influence on global agricultural development policy. The Foundation channels hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that encourage peasants and farmers to use Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) seed and agrochemicals. In August the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the $33.5 billion asset trust endowment that funds the Foundation’s philanthropic projects (and to which Bill & Melinda are trustees) disclosed that it purchased 500,000 shares of Monsanto shares for just over $23 million.(1)
According to Dena Hoff, a diversified family farmer in Glendive, Montana and North American coordinator of La Via Campesina, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s purchase of Monsanto shares indicates that the Gates Foundation’s interest in promoting the company’s seed is less about philanthropy than about profit-making. The Foundation is helping to open new markets for Monsanto, which is already the largest seed company in the world.”
potentially help in our efforts to bring better wheat varieties to farmers," said Monsanto. (8) In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $26.8 million to Cornell University to research wheat, and in May awarded $1.6 million to researchers at Washington State University to develop drought-resistant GE wheat varieties.(9)
Melinda Gates Foundation, “AGRA and its partners have released more than 100 new varieties of improved seed across the [African] continent.”(10)
(2) Community Alliance for Global Justice. “Gates Foundation invests in Monsanto.” Press release August 25 2010.
(3) Holt-Giménez, Eric. “Monsanto in Gates’ clothing? The emporor’s new GMOs.” Huffington Post. August 26 2010.
(4) Kellerhals Jr., Merle David. “Finance ministers announce $880 million for Global Food Security.” April 22 2010.
(5) Feed the Future. “An Improved Approach to Agriculture and Food Security: Haiti” June 25 2010.
(6) Monsanto Company. “Jerry Steiner speaks to congress about the Feed the Future Initiative.” July 20 2010.
(7) Gottfried, Miriam. “Top Monsanto execs load up on shares.” Barron’s. July 15 2010.
(8) Gillam, Carey. “Wheat groups welcome genetic news; say more needed.” Reuters. August 27 2010.
(9) Weaver, Matthew. “Gates awards $1.6 million for dwarf wheat research.”
Checkbiotech.org. July 25 2010.
The Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. The Via is a Grassroots International partner, as are several of the organizations listed in this article (including the Peasant Movement of Papaye).