The Department of Commerce exists within the federal government to help promote American business interests, including those overseas. But when it comes to the biotechnology industry, it is the State Departmentthat has become a federal lobbying machine seeking to convince foreign governments to accept, if not import, U.S. agricultural technology products.
The consumer advocacy organization, Food & Water Watch, reviewed 926 U.S. diplomatic cables produced from 2005 to 2009 and published by WikiLeaks, and found that American diplomats spent a considerable amount of time promoting genetically engineered (GE) food seeds and crops.
State Department officials developed and implemented public relations campaigns to convince leaders, experts and farmers in Europe and other countries that American GE products were safe and a good investment.
According to the report, “The State Department targeted foreign reporters, hosted and coordinated pro-biotech conferences and public events and brought foreign opinion-makers to the United States on high-profile junkets to improve the image of agricultural biotechnology overseas and overcome widespread public opposition to GE crops and foods.”
Members of the U.S. Foreign Service also were active in opposing GE food labeling laws and foreign government rules that restricted the importation of American biotech foods.
By 2009, 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the United States came from GE seeds patented by Monsanto. But, except for four other countries—Brazil, Argentina, Cnada and India—the rest of the world has remained relatively free from the spread of biotech seeds and crops. Thus Monsanto sees the international market as the source of enormous potential profit, if only foreign governments would let Monsanto make inroads into their agricultural economies. And, in a major example of corporate welfare, the State Department has marshaled its resources to lobby for Monsanto.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Diplomatic Cables Reveal Aggressive GM Lobbying by US Officials (by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian)
Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda (Food & Water Watch) (pdf)
Obama Africa Food Aid Plan Opens Door to Biggest Agribusiness Companies (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
State Dept. Aggressively Pushed Genetically-Modified Crops to Help Agribusiness Giants (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Bush Administration Bullied Europeans over Genetically Modified Crops (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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