Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Bill Gates, Syngenta and Rockefeller Became Custodians of the Doomsday Crop Diversity Vault

By Theodora Filis

When names like, Gates, Rockefeller and Syngenta show up as key players on the same project, I find time to research. One thing this elite group can not be accused of is a reluctance to make an impact on the world, be it positive or negative. So what could get them all to invest millions of US dollars each? I found out, and it's fascinating.

Deep inside a frozen mountain, high above an icy fjord, near the Arctic Circle, three concrete chambers are home to our world's most important natural resources. Built to withstand global warming, floods, wars, and a nuclear catastrophe, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed the 'doomsday seed bank' by the BBC, was officially opened on February 26, 2008, and serves as the ultimate safety net for our world's seeds.

Bill Gates is investing tens of his millions of US dollars, in this project, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Norwegian government and many others.

“The history of Svalbard Global Seed Vault starts as early as 1983. Preserving seed from food plants is an absolutely essential part of the work of preserving the world’s biodiversity, adapting to climate change and global warming and thereby ensuring food for the world’s population for the foreseeable future. There are hundreds of gene banks around the world. But some of them are vulnerable to natural disasters, war or the lack of management or finance. The foundation of a global ”central bank” for the world’s seeds (primarily of food plants) has therefore long been an issue.” Svalbard Press Release

Did we miss something here? Their press release stated, 'so that crop diversity can be conserved for the foreseeable future'. What future do the seed bank's sponsors foresee that would threaten the global availability of current seeds?

The first notable point is who is sponsoring the doomsday seed vault. Joining the Norwegian government are, as noted, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the US agribusiness giant DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of the world's largest owners of patented genetically-modified plant seeds and related agrichemicals; Syngenta, the major Swiss-based GMO seed and agrichemicals company through its Syngenta Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation, the private group who raised over $100 million for this project since the 1970's; CGIAR, the global network created by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Why are the Gates and Rockefeller foundations supporting the proliferation of patented seeds – which, as it has in every other place on earth, destroys the plant seed varieties? At the same time, why invest tens of millions of dollars to preserve every seed variety known in a bomb-proof doomsday vault near the remote Arctic Circle ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future’?

Perhaps it's no accident that the Rockefeller and Gates foundations are quietly financing the ‘doomsday seed vault’ on Svalbard.

The Svalbard project will be run by an organization called the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). Founded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Bioversity International (formerly the International Plant Genetic Research Institute), an offshoot of the CGIAR.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust is based in Rome. Its Board is chaired by Margaret Catley-Carlson a Canadian also on the advisory board of Group Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, one of the world’s largest private water companies. Catley-Carlson was also president until 1998 of the New York-based Population Council, John D. Rockefeller’s population reduction organization, set up in 1952 to advance the Rockefeller family’s eugenics program under the cover of promoting “family planning,” birth control devices, sterilization and “population control” in developing countries.

Other GCDT board members include former Bank of America executive presently head of the Hollywood DreamWorks Animation, Lewis Coleman. Coleman is also the lead Board Director of Northrup Grumman Corporation, one of America’s largest military industry Pentagon contractors.

Jorio Dauster (Brazil) is also Board Chairman of Brasil Ecodiesel. He is a former Ambassador of Brazil to the European Union, and Chief Negotiator of Brazil’s foreign debt for the Ministry of Finance. Dauster has also served as President of the Brazilian Coffee Institute and as Coordinator of the Project for the Modernization of Brazil’s Patent System, which involves legalizing patents on seeds which are genetically modified, something until recently forbidden by Brazil’s laws.

Cary Fowler is the Trust’s Executive Director. Fowler was Professor and Director of Research in the Department for International Environment & Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He was also a Senior Advisor to the Director General of Bioversity International. There he represented the Future Harvest Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in negotiations on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. In the 1990s, he headed the International Program on Plant Genetic Resources at the FAO. He drafted and supervised negotiations of FAO’s Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources, adopted by 150 countries in 1996. He is a past-member of the National Plant Genetic Resources Board of the US and the Board of Trustees of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, another Rockefeller Foundation and CGIAR project.

GCDT board member Dr. Mangala Rai of India is the Secretary of India’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), and Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). He is also a Board Member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which promoted the world’s first major GMO experiment, the much-hyped ‘Golden Rice’ which proved a failure. Rai has served as Board Member for CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), and a Member of the Executive Council of the CGIAR.

The first installment from the CGIAR collections will contain duplicates from international agricultural research centers based in Benin, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines and Syria.

Collectively, the CGIAR centers maintain 600,000 plant varieties in crop gene-banks, which are regarded as the foundation of global efforts to conserve agricultural biodiversity. The seed banks are supposed to be protected from attempts by Monsanto et al to try to use the seeds for their patent efforts. However, there have been documented cases where seed samples were illegally given to Monsanto and other GMO giants to develop GMO traits.

Global Crop Diversity Trust Donors also include, the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, GMO giants DuPont-Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta of Basle Switzerland, CGIAR and the State Department’s energetically pro-GMO agency for development aid, USAID.

It would seem the foxes are guarding the hen-house of mankind – the global seed diversity store in Svalbard.

Sources:

William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction, Montreal, (Global Research, 2007).
John H. Davis, Harvard Business Review, 1956, cited in Geoffrey Lawrence, Agribusiness, Capitalism and the Countryside, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1987. See also Harvard Business School, The Evolution of an Industry and a Seminar: Agribusiness Seminar, http://www.exed.hbs.edu/programs/agb/seminar.html.
Myriam Mayet, The New Green Revolution in Africa: Trojan Horse for GMOs?, May, 2007, African Centre for Biosafety, www.biosafetyafrica.net.
ETC Group, Green Revolution 2.0 for Africa?, Communique Issue #94, March/April 2007.
Global Crop Diversity Trust website, in http://www.croptrust.org/main/donors.php.