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7-Business: Some US firms want to 'control local agricultural production' in Bangladesh

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Some US firms want to 'control local agricultural production'
SOURCE: The Financial Express, Bangladesh
DATE:   27 Apr 2005

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Some US firms want to 'control local agricultural production'

A top environmental group said Tuesday that some American multinational
companies want to control Bangladesh&amp's agriculture production through
supplying seed that is sterile and harmful to environment.( The Financial
Express BD )

The environmental pressure group, Ubinig, said that the American
government is promoting those companies and the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA) has already started its works to make Bangladesh
its seed-colony.

Executive director of Ubinig Farida Akhter told journalists at a press
conference that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed giant Monsanto
(new name Pharmacia) wants to control food production of the developing
world by "destroying their agriculture."

This GMO seed does not yield better than other high yielding varieties
that are already being used in the country. This seed causes gene
pollution and affects bio-diversity. The seed is sterile and does not
have multiplication capacity.

Local GMO seed importers say the seed is productive and will help
Bangladesh achieve self-sufficiency in food. The seed will offer higher
per acre yield in a country where arable land is shrinking.

"The only way Monsanto can grab our agriculture is to destroy established
farming of Bangladesh and take control of seeds," Farida said adding it
is not at all true that GMO foods have better nutrients.

She said many multinational companies are pushing the government hard to
legalise import of GM foods and seeds.

"We have been made dependent permanently on insecticides and pesticides
and now they (multinational companies) want us to depend on them for
seeds," said the Ubinig leader.

Farida said there is no strong scientific proof that GMO food is better
by any means than the high yielding and local varieties.

She said GMO foods sometimes lack basic nutrients and sometimes it
contains overdoses that in fact cause health hazards.

Farida said if rice like "Golden Rice" was imported, farmers would turn
into American or multinationals' contract growers and would lose their
ancient culture of farming.

Ubinig believes Bangladeshis are already consuming GM soybean oil, maze,
gram seed, fast foods, which contain toxic agents.

The environmental pressure group have warned against importation of any
GM foods and seeds, urging the government to declare Bangladesh a "GM
Food Free" country.

"Please ban any GM food in Bangladesh or unless we will organise massive
agitation," Farida said.


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