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June 24th, 2013

And This Year’s Award Goes to… Monsanto?

By Jessica Walton

Click here to read the report, “Monsanto: A Corporate Profile”

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the 2013 World Food Prize laureates. Among the 2013 laureates are Syngenta’s Mary-Dell Chilton and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto, Robert Fraley.

“Big Ag” is no stranger to the World Food Prize. This $250,000 annual award is made possible by its corporate sponsors – namely DuPont, John Deere, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Syngenta. Furthermore, the World Food Prize recognizes individuals that contribute to the spread of technological innovations that fuel the business model of these agribusiness giants.

Created by Norman Bourlag, father of the Green Revolution and long time promoter of the industrialization of global agriculture, it is no surprise that the World Food Prize dotes on promoters of increased production. The prize claims to highlight individuals who contribute to the “quality, quantity or availability of food in the world,” but it ignores the fact that hunger has little to do with food scarcity.

This year’s controversial award for agricultural biotechnology highlights the political nature of the issue. Genetic engineering of food crops is not a solution to global hunger; it is a way for chemical companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow to control the seeds farmers need and package them with mandatory chemical inputs. Robert Fraley, for example, was a key player in the production of “Roundup Ready” soy, which is bred to withstand heavy application of pesticides, not provide useful tools for farmers in the developing world.

With an undisclosed selection committee, heavy corporate funding and backing by U.S. government agencies that support the adoption of American biotechnology abroad, it’s hard to feel good about the World Food Prize. Once touted as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, the World Food Prize has become a publicity campaign for companies looking to paint their practices green.

People working to end poverty, rebuild local food economies and assert democratic control over the food system already knew the World Food Prize had its priorities wrong – they started giving out an alternative honor, the Food Sovereignty Prize, in 2009. The 2013 winner of the Food Sovereignty Prize will be announced soon. We’re willing to bet it isn’t Monsanto.

Jessica Walton is an intern at Food & Water Watch.

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Norman Bourlag’s name and the date that the Food Sovereignty Prize was first awarded.

6 Comments on And This Year’s Award Goes to… Monsanto?

  1. Deanna Ball says:

    They are crazy.

  2. Karen says:

    I’m grateful to these scientists from various companies for giving farmers another tool that reduces total herbicide applications, reduces the use of diesel fuel, reduces soil compaction in the fields, and allows for maximum yield potential so our farmers can continue to feed the world. We are smart to monitor this progress and celebrate these accomplishments so more of our world citizens can have basic food to eat.
    We might lose sight of the severity of hunger in our world that is punctuated with over abundance here at home. John Kerry outlined that issue well in his statement.

  3. Karen, thanks for weighing in. We hope you check out this video from Food Mythbusters that debunks many of the ideas you lay out above. http://foodmyths.org/food-mythbusters/. Also, check out our fact sheet about the greenwashing of genetically engineered crops: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/factsheet/greenwashing-genetically-engineered-crops/. Finally, the the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, an indepth report by over 400 scientists released in 2008, shows that the industrial model is not serving the world’s poorest: http://www.unep.org/documents.multilingual/default.asp?documentid=531&articleid=5769&l=en.

    When the facts are laid out, it becomes clearer who benefits and who loses with expanded industrial agriculture.

  4. martha says:

    I am a small farmer. Monsanto etc. are corporate bullies and have no place in my kitchen or home. Do your research. Look for the truth and it will lead you to GMOs, Geoengineering and the military H.A.A.R.P. program.

    • Cheryl Kouts says:

      I hope people take your advice to do research otherwise we are all in this together and will not stop the dangerous chemical geoengineering unless we all work together.

  5. Johnathan Reynolds says:

    The money-rich companies give award money to rich criminals! GROTESQUE! Why not give these awards to the MAFIA which cannot begin to inflict the damage on people that the food-polluting criminals boast. Is the MAFIA body count too low to merit an award?

    What body count have these food polluters blindly attained to and how many more people will become sick and die because of polluted food?

    Can we expect any sane behavior from money-blnded people? Recent history strongly states, “NO!” Insanity seems to be the popular choice.

    Monsanto’s damage to the food of the world is such that many countries reject Monsanto’s genetic modification. What do they know that we are not allowed to know?

    Why does Monsanto use manipulation of propaganda and lies before politicians to make the way legal?

    I personally have permanently removed all forms of corn from my shopping list. That is PERMANENTLY! Monsanto has proved that it can never be trusted.

    Even if Monsanto were to mend its sinful ways, they have proved themselves unfit to call themselves human. The very dirt on which they walk can justifiably state, “I am to preferred above you.” The evils of totalitarian regimes like Naziism are being competed with.

    Russian Roulette is a game of first choice from the food polluters.

    Monsanto along with beef and pork producers are playing Russian Roulette with my health and life along with the health and lives of millions of people.

    Motive? One of the basest and degrading motives that man has been seduced by – PROFIT.

    And, somehow, are supposed to believe that the awards were given for the product of holy and pure endeavor?

    What lies!

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