Wikileaks Reveals US Supports GMOs and Counteracts Sustainable Agriculture Abroad

One of the many US embassy cables recently made public via Wikileaks chronicles conversations around sustainable food issues, specifically the use (or, rather, lack there of) of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in European agriculture. While it is well-known that the biotech seed giants like Monsanto have a hefty amount of sway in the political realm, the leaked correspondence proves just how influential such companies are on a global scale. Most European nations have adamantly resisted falling into the GMO trap, and while they keep abreast of GMO technology in the research setting, in practice they definitely steer towards more sustainable agriculture and organic food production. Countries  such as Austria and France in particular have rejected the presence of GMOs even in their imported food. Not surprisingly, big biotech and, by extension, U.S. interest, is not terribly thrilled with the fact that much of Europe is so set against GMOs.

The problem with European countries restricting and heavily regulating GMOs basically boils down to the fact that as a result, US food companies can't sell their products in Europe. It also means that biotech companies like Monsanto can't sell their technology and seeds.  Currently Spain and Poland are the only two European Union countries buying and using GMO crops. Wikileaks revealed that two U.S. Senators, Republicans Charles Grassley from Iowa and John Thune from South Dakota, encouraged Spanish officials to exercise their influence in Brussels in an attempt to persuade other EU nations to ease up on GMOs.

Hopefully the rest of the EU won't change their zero-tolerance policy for GMOs anytime soon, and will continue to uphold more sustainable agriculture even in the face of pressure from the US government  and powerful US companies. However it is disheartening to know that the US government is so actively peddling genetically modified agriculture abroad, rather than embracing more sustainable food. Perhaps even more disheartening than the cables revealing EU correspondence, are several other cables that expose the US government's intentions to proliferate the use of GMOs in Africa and Pakistan. Unlike Europe, these regions struggle with hunger and agriculture, and the injection of "miracle" GMOs could actually garner good press for Monsanto and other such companies, while expanding their markets. But GMOs under the guise of "aid" won't help these regions build more healthy, sustainable food and agriculture systems.

What the Wikileaks cables reinforce is that GMOs and the government's support of GMOs is suspicious, and certainly is not supportive of building sustainable food and agriculture. Rather the pressure to use GMOs imposed by US government representatives is a direct effort to support giant biotech business and not just goodwill.

photo credit: Women in Europe for a Common Future