La Via Campesina denounces Gates Foundation purchase of Monsanto stock

La Via Campesina

Food Freedom 

A modified version of a press release by La Via Campesina

Global peasant movement, La Via Campesina, and the Haitian Peasant Movement of Papaye have both denounced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s recent acquisition of Monsanto Company shares.

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.”

Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Peasant Movement of Papaye and Caribbean coordinator of La Via Campesina also condemned the move:

It is really shocking for the peasant organizations and social movements in Haiti to learn about the decision of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to buy Monsanto shares while it is giving money for agricultural projects in Haiti that promote the company’s seed and agrochemicals. The peasant organizations in Haiti want to denounce this policy which is against the interests of 80 percent of the Haitian population, and is against peasant agriculture—the base of Haiti’s food production.

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)

Since 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has collaborated with the Rockefeller Foundation, an ardent promoter of GE crops for the world’s poor, to implement the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is opening up the continent to GE seed and chemicals sold by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. The Foundation has given $456 million to AGRA, and in 2006 hired Robert Horsch, a Monsanto executive for 25 years, to work on the project. In Kenya about 70 percent of AGRA grantees work directly with Monsanto (2), nearly 80 percent of Gates’ funding in the country involves biotech, and over $100 million in grants has been made to Kenyan organizations connected to Monsanto. In 2008, some 30 percent of the Foundation’s agricultural development funds went to promoting or developing GE seed varieties (3). 

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