Late President Levy Mwanawasa
Late President Levy Mwanawasa

Zambia and three other African countries shocked the world in 2002 when they declined food aid during a regional famine. They wouldn’t accept the food because it was both genetically modified (GM) and unmilled, which meant that it could potentially be planted to grow GM crops. The four countries then asked the United States, which had provided most of the aid, to mill it so it would only be good for consumption and not cultivation, but it refused, citing costs.

When South Africa stepped in to mill it, three of the countries, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe accepted. Only Zambia still refused, citing its genetic modification, which then-President Levy Mwanawasa called “poison.”

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2002) in Johannesburg, Mwanawasa said,

We may be poor and experiencing severe food shortages, but we aren’t ready to expose our people to ill-defined risks. […] I will not allow Zambians to be turned into guinea pigs no matter the levels of hunger in the country.”

Around the same time, after Zambian scientists went abroad for a GM maize study mission, Zambia’s agriculture minister, Mundia Sikatana, told journalists in Lusaka, “In the face of scientific uncertainty, the country should thus refrain from actions that might adversely affect human and animal health as well as harm the environment.”

Zambia had the strongest Anti-GMO Stance in Africa.Despite international pressure and accusations of that the government was starving it’s people, Zambians did not starve to death and are still here to today.

Zambia took heat for their strong anti-GMO stance from abroad initially, but now, much of the pressure to accept GMOs has subsided.

Is Zambia’s stance on GMOs changing?

Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life.

In July 2015, Zambia and other members of the regional body, adopted the ARIPO Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Protocol against the advice of the Zambia Alliance for Agro-ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC) and other concerned citizens of Zambia and internationally. This will sell both food and farmers to multinational corporations such as Monsanto.

The Regulations contain provisions requiring farmers, seed processors, and certification agencies to provide information and monitor the use of farm saved seed by farmers. Clearly these provisions are designed to intimidate and force seed processors, seed suppliers, government certification officers and even farmers’ organizations to police and spy on farmers who use farm-saved protected seed. If they do not, the regulations allow the right holder (who could be an international seed company) to take legal action and sue the member state.

So whats the big deal?

Below of an article that shows the ramifications of giving control of seeds to Foreign corporations.Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life.

The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming

Note: Originally published in April 2013

Monsanto’s talk of ‘technology’ tries to hide its real objectives of control over seed where genetic engineering is a means to control seed,

“Monsanto is an agricultural company.

We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

“Producing more, Conserving more, Improving farmers lives.”

These are the promises Monsanto India’s website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India from the company’s growing control over cotton seed supply — 95 per cent of India’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.

Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers.

Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.

Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.

Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not “creating” or “inventing” a plant. These are seeds of deception — the deception that Monsanto is the creator of seeds and life; the deception that while Monsanto sues farmers and traps them in debt, it pretends to be working for farmers’ welfare, and the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.

The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the Government of India to deregulate the seed sector. Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry: First, Indian companies were locked into joint-ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties, thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable, patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Fifth, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes and, in fact, started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public-private partnerships (PPP).

In 1995, Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint-venture with the Indian company Mahyco. In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its GMO Bt cotton illegally and announced that it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year. India has rules for regulating GMOs since 1989, under the Environment Protection Act. It is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the ministry of environment for GMO trials. The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India and Monsanto could not start the commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002.
And, after the damning report of India’s parliamentary committee on Bt crops in August 2012, the panel of technical experts appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

But it had changed Indian agriculture already.

Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.

An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India — “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”

The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced — Monsanto’s royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. As Monsanto’s profits grow, farmers’ debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are seeds of suicide.

The ultimate seeds of suicide is Monsanto’s patented technology to create sterile seeds. (Called “Terminator technology” by the media, sterile seed technology is a type of Gene Use Restriction Technology, GRUT, in which seed produced by a crop will not grow — crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off.) The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from seed.

Monsanto’s talk of “technology” tries to hide its real objectives of ownership and control over seed where genetic engineering is just a means to control seed and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.

A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient’s diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life-forms, from micro-organisms to plants, in the TRIPS’ agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the main objective. Monsanto is now extending its patents to conventionally bred seed, as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low gluten wheat it had pirated from India which we challenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent office.

That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides.

Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, and eco feminist.Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books and over 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. She was trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993. She is the founder of Navdanya

Sources:Epoch times
Global research

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39 COMMENTS

  1. Very good at trashing western ingenuity yet you have none yourselves. How is your agriculture bufi beds working out for you?

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    • Western ingenuity my foot! It’s all capitalism and greed. Take your slave mentality out of here we don’t need the likes of you. Hiroshima was western Ingenuity, agent orange in Vietnam was western Ingenuity,Gulf war was western ingenuity- how has that helped the world become a better place. It’s all about conquest.

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    • @Tole I have had the privilege of working for an international NGO in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Angola. Our challenge was to mitigate the poverty created mainly by GMO crop farming which require more expensive input and management regimes, for anyone to realise the promised yields under severe drought or floods – especially maize. Total failure is guaranteed if any element is not adhered to by the poor farmer. Conversely the low yielding indigenous species always yield reasonable results no matter the conditions, year by year. Malawi is now in deficit chiefly because of GMO farming. Peasant farmers will never have the capacity to achieve the promised GMO yields, leading to more poverty. We actually started programmes to revert the farmers to their indigenous seed crops as a result…

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  2. Why praise this Architect of Tribalism and Nepotism together with his wife Maureen. Meanwhile Rest in Peace Ruth Mbandu

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    • @Air_Mukwai: Praise his stance because no matter what tribe or sect be thankful that he had his foot down with the “Zambian” people in mind and did not subject “Zambian” people to poisonous and harmful food. #RESPECT When you compare to some of the ‘corrupt’ leaders today, we have streams being used to dump chemicals and killing water life which sustains people all in the name of a dollar (greed) and now generations are in jeopardy and people are dying!

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  3. most of our maize produce does not come from the commercial farmers, allowing this company will be a total blow to our economy, the soil will be destroyed if you don’t have chemicals from the same company your crop will not grow and every time you need to plant you have to buy the seed from the same company why ascribing to 21st century slavery when are we going to learn to be independent and why introducing some which has not being proven to be health when our agriculture system is doing great, why not empower small scale farmers, but resorting to destroying our well ecosystem.

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  4. It Levy who was architect of tribalism and nepotism hence the saying Mwanawasa Family tree, Chiluba had no relatives in government. Mwanawasa even insulted all bembas at Ndola airport please give me a break.

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    • Unless you are confirming that Chiluba was a Congolese. He used to tell us that BY was his uncle. So what are you telling us. There was a lot of regionalism in Chiluba time that is why the likes of… where ministers…

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  5. Mwanawasa whatever his flaws who a true leader and also a lawyer…compared to we must as well left that office vacant since the old man Sata died although he was deadwood after just one year in power!!

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  6. Levy had the heart for Zambians, hard work drove him to his early death.We had a cabinet with diverse tribes Magande’s Mutati’s Banda, Mpande’s etc.Tribalist or not, he got the job done unlike Sata with his 90 day joke

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  7. Well in the first place I thought it was a really good articulated article but then after reading all of these comments I have lost track. In my opinion I think De Levy is the best we’ve ever had in Zambia

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    • kaunda was also ok mdala. its only now a realising what the man was doing. he was a century ahead of us. we drunk tarino, tip top etc after he chased fi pepsi. the man wanted us to produce and manufacture, but unfortunately we the people were not up to pace and so the companies encountered losses and he subsidised them hoping they would stand strong on their own in the future. Kaunda was a genius, a true pan africanist.

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  8. El Zifhe,
    I agree with you. Politics don’t interest me that much but with Levy I sat up and listened. He was a performer and he surrounded himself with like minds. His wife unfortunately had a lot to do with the tribalism. Had he finished his term I believe Zambia would have been a different place.

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  9. Zambian like other Africans worship the dead. Chiluba did more work than any other president, followed by Sata, Mwanawasa, Edgar, Banda and KK last. Between 1964 and 1991, KK failed to even rehabilitate the roads that the whites had done till chiluba came in around 1991 – 2001. Few schools were done at the time. Only mission schools existed. Mwanawasa had a different scenario: the west had promised to write off debt and as such there were no salary increments, no recruitments and no loan interests paid ( remember HIPC). he had free money from donors due to the debt cancellations. he started the debt we are paying now. Banda continued to enjoy wat mwanawasa left. Chiluba changed our way of thinking completely, that’s what we call working. we were all sleeping at the time.

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    • @Honest: I am not sure how old you are. Nonetheless, if you are old enough to have grown up and gone through the KK era, I am sure you will agree with me that you are being a little unfair with Kaunda’s Presidency. For starters, you have to appreciate the times and the geopolitical environment in which KK ruled. He struggled and hard simply to maintain peace in the Country, let alone score a few economic successes.

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    • continue…

      This was the time of the CRASH of the Titans, East vs West, capitalism vs Socialism, West sponsored assassinations of African leaders, economic strangulations of African Countries that refused to toe the line of Western Countries’ ideologies, extra. On top of that, the APARTHEID Ideology was right at our door steps (South Africa and partially Southern Rhodesia/Zim.) Furthermore, all the liberation causes/wars that were going on all around us/Zambia. So there was a lot going on to completely occupy and test any President’s economic and political wits.

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    • continue…

      You shouldn’t also forget all the economic sanctions our neighbors to the South imposed on Zambia, hence the help from China to build TAZARA and the Oil Pipeline through our friendly neighbor () to the north—longer distance to the sea and more expensive—but we had NO CHOICE, and KK did it. Before then, everything (Oil, machinery, spare parts, fertilizer, etc) had to either Trucked in through Tanzania/Tunduma or flown in. Which was expensive. But Kaunda stack to his principles and uncompromising stance towards the barbaric Apartheid system in our economically powerful “neighbor” to the South (RSA) and the Racist regime of Ian Smith in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia then.)

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      Kaunda could have easily chosen economics over his deeply held convictions/principles. But, as he put it himself (and I am paraphrasing here,) “ZAMBIA CAN NEVER BE FREE FOR AS LONG AS OUR BLACK BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN AFRICA, PARTICULARLY IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD (Southern Africa) ARE UNDER THE YOKE OF COLONIAL OPPRESSION AND THE BARBARISM OF THE APARTHEID SYSTEM.” So he chose principle over economic expediency.

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      Yes, Zambia would have done quite well economically over that period. But that was NOT KK’s personality to compromise his deeply held, somewhat Christian, convictions for “thirty pieces of ‘economic’ Silver.” And today Kaunda/Zambia is held in high regard in the region, and the world, for what he stood for at the time. Sure, we all know and understand the kind of economic price our Country paid for supporting Liberation wars/struggles in our neighborhood and the opposition to Apartheid—IT WAS A STEEP PRICE INDEED. But, in life, there comes a time when one has to choose between PRINCIPLE or EXPEDIENCY (economic, financial, moral, political, or otherwise.)

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      So, although it is perfectly within our right to judge KK’s economical performance during his reign, I strongly feel that it is intellectual laziness NOT to put that period into its rightful context. It is really intellectually criminal, in my opinion, to simply skip over entire swathes of our Country’s history and act as though Zambia has existed in a vacuum all these years. Please, let us all try not to reduce history to the level of “sound bites.” Zambian history (economic or otherwise) ain’t that simple!

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      We should all endeavour to judge our former Presidents fairly and accurately within the prevailing economic contexts in which they ruled. In fact KK did quite well given all the economic forces working against him at the time(Wars all around Zambia, Sanctions, Influx of refugees, falling copper prices, geopolitics of Russia and the West, Apartheid/Racist regimes at our door steps, Limited reservoir of educated human capital, etc.)

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  10. while usa is trying to do away with GMOs as can be evidenced from a a lot of food chains,zambia is pursing the opposite.all this is because of corrupt leadership.

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  11. Chiluba NEVER PROMOTED TRIBALISM!LEVY DID.THAT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FRO THE GOOD HE DID THOUGH.JUST TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT FTJ WAS NOT A TRIBALIST!LEVY BROUGHT TRIBALISM AND RB PERPETUATED IT.SATA AND EL HAVE TAKEN IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL.THANKS

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    • Ichishinka I am sure are already imbibing at Katushas…Unless you are confirming that Chiluba was a Congolese. He used to tell us that BY was his uncle. So what are you telling us. There was a lot of regionalism in Chiluba time that is why the likes of… where ministers…do you want me to mention more musangu mafias

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  12. These Tin- Pot leaders currently in power, – Chagwa, Kambwili, Kampyongo et-al, would even accept Radioactive waste, & secretly dump it amonst citizens, as long as Dollars. & Alcohol were promised to them as kickbacks!!
    WHAT A CORRUPT, & UNETHICAL BUNCH WE CURRENYTLY HAVE IN CORRIDORS OF POWER.
    #ChagwaAyende! #PFmustGo

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  13. So other countries accepted the food. Interesting that there are no reports of food poisoning in those countries corresponding to that period.

    Zambians don’t be brainwashed. A lot of children die of malnutrition every year in Zambia, worse during that period.

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  14. By any standard, sonta comes last, by any statistical and performance appraisal method, Levy comes first. pleasing and worshiping Bembas does not aggregate to good leadership. it is all to do with lowering the cost of living, enhanced transperence in govt affairs and above all peace and stability of the country, not forgetting the respect for human rights for the average Zambian.

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