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March 4, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Response to Bill Gates and GM crops

Dryden misses the point

The response by Sam Dryden, director of Agricultural Development of the Gates Foundation, is inadequate and misses the broader points made in the measured and thoughtful African critique of the AGRA approach [“Bill Gates and GM crops,” Northwest Voices, March 1].

What is at stake is not just the methodology of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, but the top-down mode of operation at play.

Experience has taught many of us, including myself who learned small-scale tropical farming on 10 acres in the Dominican Republic, that the social, economic and political factors surrounding rural communities are as important to address as the specific technical issues, if not more.

What Gates’ AGRA, with its emphasis on so-called “improved” seeds and access to chemical fertilizer, fails to address is the context that holds farmers back and constrains their productivity.

Worse, the reliance on top-down “experts” and supplies of inputs, reinforces in the minds of African farmers that what they lack is more important than what they have.

It disempowers them and makes them dependent on suppliers. GM seeds and AGRA’s close economic linking with Monsanto just reinforce to objective observers how much of this “development” agenda is corporate driven, a closed loop between the boardrooms and the billionaire philanthropists.

— Stephen Bartlett, Agricultural Missions, Louisville, Ky.

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I am sure that the people who are actually starving to death are super concerned about... MORE
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Gates's shortcomings are broader than this. His thinking must be locked into what... MORE

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