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The World Food Prize Misses the Mark

#Articles & Analysis#Food Sovereignty
June 2013


Boston, MA, USA. 20 June, 2013 –Scientists at Monsanto, a corporation infamous for furthering unethical business practices and indirectly responsible for suicides by farmers across the world, is awarded the World Food Prize.  The World Food Prize announced yesterday that three individuals deeply involved over the past few decades in the development of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops, would receive the organization’s highest honor for 2013. Global biodiversity and agricultural advocacy groups are both surprised and incensed at this news. Of the three, Dr. Robert T Fraley, a molecular biologist and executive who has worked at Monsanto since 1981, and been deeply involved in the company’s GMO research, is perhaps the most controversial.  “Monsanto is a chemical company at the epicenter of all that is wrong with our global food system,” says Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International, a Boston-based human rights and international development organization that supports community-led sustainable development projects. “They profit from creating seeds in laboratories that require farmers to use proprietary pesticides and fertilizers that damage the soil. What’s more, Monsanto pretends to be a friend to farmers when in fact they are a friend to large-scale agricultural corporations.”  This award also brings into sharp relief the difference between the World Food Prize, which is funded by agribusiness and agrochemical companies like Monsanto itself, and the Food Sovereignty Prize. Mother Jones reports that a significant portion of the World Food Prize’s annual budget is funded by large agribusiness corporations such as Monsanto. With this award, the World Food Prize loses any remaining integrity that it had.  “The Food Sovereignty Prize was created to celebrate grassroots activists, including small farmers, working for a more democratic food system and champions solutions coming from those most impacted by the injustices of the global food system,” explains Saulo Araujo, Grassroots International’s Program Coordinator for Latin America, and a member of the Food Sovereignty Prize committee. The Food Sovereignty Prize’s website speaks to its focus on values, local solutions, and working with nature. As the world becomes more conscious of the quality and source of the food that gets to its tables, the Food Sovereignty Prize gains more relevance. It has honored organizations such as the Via Campesina in 2010, the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil in 2011 and the Korean Women Peasant’s Association in 2012 for their pioneering work.  Grassroots International, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is a working partner with all of these recipient organizations. Grassroots is also a founding member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA), which awards the Food Sovereignty Prize, and has successfully partnered over three decades with courageous human rights leaders around the world, and the organizations they work with. A global advocate for the human rights to land, water and food, Grassroots provides support to some of the most progressive social movements around the world. The organization remains committed to standing with its partners, amplifying their voices and struggles, telling their stories, and engaging other donors and activists to support their vital work.  Notes to editor: 1.    Information on the Food Sovereignty Prize can be found here 2.    A list of organizations that Grassroots International partners with can be found here 3.    The Mother Jones analysis of the World Food Prize’s donors referred to in this press release can be found here and the article on it can be found here


Tanzeel Merchant prepared this press release.

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