Jim Hightower and his speech, From Factory Farms to GMOs, The Upchuck Rebellion Is Taking Root, has top billing at the Occupy the World Food Prize event on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Des Moines. Maybe that position should have gone to the special guest, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson.
Leave it to the Roman Catholic Church to point out one of the evils of the agricultural revolution that is genetically modified organisms (GMOs): over-reliance on corporations during third world development. In an article in the National Catholic Reporter, Rich Heffern quoted Cardinal Turkson, “making growers reliant on proprietary, genetically modified seeds smacks of the ‘usual game of economic dependence,’ which in turn, ‘stands out like a new form of slavery.'” Few people I know are talking about GMOs in terms of slavery, but the type of dependency U.S. corporations seek to create in Africa and elsewhere is tangible, and a normal part of development. Cardinal Turkson is at the center of this issue. (For more information, click here).
Cardinal Turkson is president of the pontifical council for justice and peace, a member of the Roman Curia, and potentially the first black Roman Catholic pope. He will be part of the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues, and has accepted the invitation to speak at Occupy the World Food Prize. As the National Catholic Reporter pointed out on Oct. 7, he will be talking to both sides in the GMO debate.
During an interview with Des Moines activist Ed Fallon, Occupy the World Food Prize organizer Frank Cordaro said, “our lessons from the occupy movement have taught us that the global financial system controls everything… and lo and behold, we discovered this World Food Prize, and when you look under the covers, it is completely owned and scripted by corporate ag.” “It’s not a world food prize, it’s a corporate world food prize,” Cordaro told National Catholic Reporter in a separate interview.
This year’s World Food Prize laureates are three individuals who have been instrumental in the development of GMOs used by Monsanto and Syngenta Biotechnology, and their companies underwrite a substantial part of the costs of the World Food Prize. Their election to the hall of laureates appears to be self-serving of corporate interests.
Cardinal Peter Turkson is expected to speak against the use of GMOs during the Borlaug Dialogues, which are another attempt by corporations to control the message about their business through so-called opposing views. The dialogues are another in a series of corporate attempts to create a false sense of rational discussion, when, like this year’s laureates, it is self serving at best.