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Press Release: Over 57,000 Express Concern with Human Feeding Trials of GMO Bananas (12.02.2016)

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Over 57,000 Express Concern with Human Feeding Trials of GMO Bananas
Simultaneous demonstrations in Ames and Seattle highlight controversy surrounding Gates Foundation-funded Transgenic Banana Study at Iowa State University

Ames, IA and Seattle, WA:  On Monday February 15th, Iowa State University graduate students will deliver 57,309 petition signatures to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU while AGRA Watch members deliver the same petition to the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. (The petitions will be delivered at 9:30am PST and 11:30am CST.) The petition asks the University and the Gates Foundation to cease supporting the transgenic banana study, including human feeding trials, and to change the trajectory for this type of research conducted at public universities.  Petition signatures were collected by ISU graduate students, AGRA Watch and CREDO Action.

With the purported goal of reducing Vitamin A deficiency in Uganda and other parts of the world, genetically modified bananas are enriched with beta carotene. The study examines the extent to which the bananas’ beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body and absorbed by consumers.  The study is funded by the Gates Foundation.

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The CREDO petition is a follow-up to a petition launched in 2015 by ISU graduate students who, in partnership with AGRA Watch, collected over 1000 signatures, that were delivered in December. These petitions respond to an email that was sent to the ISU student body in April 2014 inviting young women (ages 18-40) to eat genetically modified bananas in return for $900.

This study is one of the first human feeding trials of a genetically modified product, and there has been no prior animal testing of this product. Thus, ISU students are being asked to be the first to consume a product of unknown safety. The study is not being conducted in a transparent manner, and concerned ISU community members have not been able to receive answers about the research design, risks, nature of the informed consent given by the subjects, and the generalizability of the study.

The safety concern is not limited to students or activists. Dr. David Schubert, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, said, “Beta carotine is chemically related to compounds that are known to cause birth defects and other problems in humans at extremely low levels, and these toxic chemicals are possible if not likely by-products of plants engineered to make large amounts of beta carotene.  Since there is no required safety testing of the banana or any other GMO, doing a feeding trial in people, especially women, should not be allowed.  It is both unethical and immoral, particularly because there are several naturally occurring varieties of banana that are safe and have higher levels of beta carotene than the GM varieties.”

Beyond the possible harm to students, the banana may have negative long-term impacts on Ugandan agriculture.  Many banana varieties serves as staples in Ugandan diets. Ugandans have the right to have access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food. A coalition of over 100 U.S., African and international organizations expressed concerns in an Open Letter that genetically-modified bananas are not meant to serve such a purpose, and that this crop will have an adverse affect on Ugandan agriculture, food security and food sovereignty.

Bridget Mugambe, a Ugandan campaigner with Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, declared, “What is eluding the Gates Foundation is the existence of diverse alternative sources of Vitamin A rich foods that are easily planted and readily available in Uganda. The need for this Vitamin A rich GM banana is clearly assumed, and may sadly end up destroying a food that is at the very core of our social fabric.”

The demonstrations come on the heels of a widely-reported new critique of the Gates Foundation, commissioned by UK-based Global Justice Now. In the reportentitled “Gated Development”, the organization argues that “big business is directly benefitting, in particular in the fields of agriculture and health, as a result of the foundation’s activities.” The report goes on to claim that the foundation creates “a corporate merry-go-round where the [foundation] consistently acts in the interests of corporations”.

Mariam Mayet, Director of African Centre for Biodiversity (South Africa) stated, “We in Africa vehemently oppose the introduction of GM crops plants into our food and farming systems that is being carried out in the name of the public good. Once again we would like to draw attention to the conclusions of the 400 global experts of the IAASTD report, who are under no illusion that the current obsession with yield and productivity (personified in the extreme by GMOs) is a panacea for a more ecologically sustainable and equitable food system.”

Mzee is either in the darkness of the forest or walking in the banana-plantation; he surely have no plans to leave; that is the true #SteadyProgress

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It’s hard for me to write this in all seriousness. Since I writing about an African President whom himself said this in 1986: “The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power” (Ross, 2011).  The President in particular is His Exellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda for 29 years and counting!

Mzee said this in 1980 while running as a presidential candidate:

“Using a government position to a mass wealth is high treason. If the UPM is not going to be supported because it denounces such methods of getting rich, let it be”.

This he said while campaigning in Bushenyi and Mbarara districts(Weekly Topic, August 27. 1980).

So Mzee have  had a few points back in the day and knew this was an issues. Now he deflects  them to the extreme, to a point where it nearly get’s boring. Still here is his recents comments on the matter of riches and staying in power.

This was what Mzee said in November 2015:

““I have my own job at home of keeping cattle. Why would I stay when I have been defeated in the elections? I am not power hungry but I have missions to accomplish. I can’t leave without finishing with them” (Kazibwe, 2015).

Well, he has promised to step-down before, doubt he means this for long or even if this utter words was sincere other than for a show. This was for show from Mzee because of the coming Papal visit in Uganda (all seriousness the visit happen around 2 weeks after this interview). Well, let me continue on what he has said over the new-years and his ordinary modus operandi. When the pope has left the country and he could do what he normally do!

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Mzee saisd this on 5th January 2016:

“I have been hearing people accusing me of sticking around; that I don’t want to leave government. Why would I want to stay in government?” (…)”First of all I am a very rich man. I have a lot of wealth and therefore it cannot be riches that I am seeking in government” (Waswa, 2016).

Well, you have in been in power since 1986. That is sticking around for a while in government and as executive power for nearly three decades. We know you are rich you have a giant farm in Ankole, you and your families own a dozen businesses, some hotels and even some transport businesses as well. You started earning big bucks on transport under the DRC war in the 90s, but that is a nearly forgotten chapter for you and your brother Salim Selah, right? Still you’re in government because you fear what will happen if you leave it. Especially when there is oil-money soon coming into the accounts of Uganda and you want that slice to. The minerals and wood from Kisangani will be small-fry a bogoya. Well, we know about that and as your businesses and family businesses can be lost if you leave government. Therefore you want to secure those, it is a valid argument to stick around in government for wealth as man men make their wealth that way, one of the reason why you went to the bush to eradicate corruption and embezzlement. Well, that chapter is also forgotten and loyal cronies is more and more important therefore we have NRM-Independent and NRM Flag-Bearers in the coming elections, this is new and the NRM-Independents are breach of inner-party law. We know it is okay as long as Mzee,says it’s okay; he even pays the fees for the NRM-Independents to the Electoral Commission. This is to gain their loyalty as well as the ones the members picked in the district and sub-county. That is beautiful right? So, that is the reason why people wonder why you stick around and what can you do now that you haven’t already done? Still, let’s continue to the 10th January 2016.

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Mzee said this on 10th January 2016:

“cannot leave power now because all he planted has started bearing fruits” (…)”Those who say, let him go, let him go, they need to know that this is not the right time. This old man who has saved the country, how do you want him to go? How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?” (…)”We can’t be in the middle of a forest and want the old man to go. This is not right. We must concentrate on development, my time will come and I will go. I don’t fear going because I have where to go, but we must first see where we go” (…)”We can’t be in the middle of a forest and want the old man to go. This is not right. We must concentrate on development, my time will come and I will go. I don’t fear going because I have where to go, but we must first see where we go” (Rumanzi, 2016).

Now he is proclaiming that he has made a country into a banana-plantation, where it is finally bearing fruits. That means sweat bananas with good yields. That must be from the mustards seed he planted in 1986. Wait, this isn’t a mustard farm, but still the metaphor can be extended to the Banana farm. Yes, he has made the country into a Banana farm or should I say a banana republic. Now that all of that was daft, but the point is clear.

The economic state is getting dire in Uganda, the loans rate on the government budget is going up while the aid and donor funds goes down. While the oil-price lowers before the oil-monies are getting in. The sale of coffee is growing but it has not the yielded price on it neither is the sale of the tea. Like they are not producing enough sugar for consumption and have to import from Kenya.

Bank notes Uganda

IMF in July 2015 wrote in their report this: “Short-term benefits of the oil price decline have been less pronounced in Uganda than in other countries in the region. In the past nine months, petrol average pump prices have declined by 10 percent in domestic currency”.

He surely isn’t done by seeing all the campaign teams struggling with the villages roads his been building since 1986. Since FDC Campaign Convoy have been stuck in Rwenzori and in certain northern districts, while Mzee himself needed a military vehicle to be able to get to campaign rallies in Abletong. Well, the Banana-plantations don’t need a good road as long as the banana gets to market?

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Or is it the growing amounts of districts, sub-counties and municipalities? Is that your proud work to make sure that that every corner of the country have a local council to control 1000 people and have loyal payment from you?  That seems like the final goal while going through your banana-plantation. In 1967 there was only 18 districts, by 1989 where already 34 districts and 150 counties. By my reckoning in late 2015 there are 111 districts and 167 counties. So the numbers has grown staggering amount of districts and steady rise of counties. Was this the big plan in 1986 make sure that there 3 times over district then when you came to power?

You might feel that you’re in the forest and not really in the mellow place of the banana-plantation since the situation economically, infrastructure, youth-employment, industrial-development, police-violence and so on. There are much darkness in the forest and not any sweat yields of the banana-plantation. The development that you have left is surely questionable; secondly the legacy you’re leaving behind is not the ones you wish you had. You could have been a man who led to real progress and stand for something new.  Instead you’re the same old tribe of African leaders who overstays in power and does let other people rule.

The economic state, together with the lower prices on coffee and oil should be worrying. Together with edged prices on imports as Uganda imports are higher than their exports. The weaker currency and higher inflation makes the trading barrier even higher. There are so many signs that the general election together with the laws that parliament passes gives more and more power to the Executive and his regime. Ever since Public Order Management Act there been more and more laws who gives the government more stronghold over the public instead of giving them freedoms and opportunity to evolve and think on their own. The laws that gives the government carte blanche to borrow money through the new Public Finance Management Act; one section of this law says this: “Amendment of Section 36: (5a) In addition to subsection (5), a loan raised by the Government as a temporary advance by the Bank of Uganda, which does not extend beyond a financial year shall not require to be approved by the Parliament” (P5, 2015, PFMA). That says how the government can initially use the Bank of Uganda as an ATM, was that the problem you had in the forest or the fruits your having yield on the banana-plantation?

NAADS Piggery Enterprise Ibanda

I know that you have no plan of stopping being in power, I am just wondering when you actual thought of leaving since you have been there as long as have lived. Something not many Presidents have done except your friend in Zimbabwe, and maybe aquatints like Paul Biya in Cameroon, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatoral Guinea. But hey, they are from francafrique countries so I only expect you smile at them when you arrive at African Union meetings in Addis Ababa. Since they know and you know that all the fellows who meet with decades ago are no longer there.

We know that what you said before new years are utter rubbish since you have promised before to step down and haven’t. That has happened before 2001 and before 2006. Even before you got the multi-party system back into place; Gen. Benon Biraaro said this early part of his campaign in 2015: “When we captured power in 1986, Mr Museveni promised to rule for only five years and after he will go and look after his cows, I never knew his cows would be Ugandans”.

Old Taxi Park

Surely, if his still is in the forest or in the banana-plantation or even with his cows in Ankole, it is for certain he is still the executive power and will do what he can to keep that in 18th February 2016 or make sure the counting is fixed to measure the right way. Mzee will make sure that the counting of the ballots from the Electoral Commission declares him the President, AGAIN! If not he has prepared the police with a bucket full billions of shillings for post-election violence. So he must have looked in the darkness of the forest and worried for the outcome. In the sense that he smells the people are not his anymore. They do not follow him blindly and let him guide them freely. The banana-plantation is not as peaceful as it once was; This means that Mzee is not directly entitled anymore, to get the fruits of the plantation without any questions, from the people who are working on it. Peace.

Reference:

Kazibwe – ‘Museveni: I am Ready to Hand Over Power If Defeated’ (19.11.2015) link: http://www.chimpreports.com/museveni-i-am-ready-to-hand-over-power-if-defeated/

Ross, Will – ‘Would Uganda’s Museveni recognise his former self?’ (07.05.2011) link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9477930.stm

Rumanzi, Perez – ‘I can’t leave power now – Museveni’ (10.01.2016) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/I-can-t-leave-power-now—Museveni/-/688334/3027090/-/ldhhetz/-/index.html

Waswa, Sam – ‘It Is Never My Intention to Stick To Power – Museveni’ (05.01.2016) link: http://www.chimpreports.com/it-is-never-my-intention-to-stick-to-power-museveni/

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