Thanks in part to WikiLeaks, we now know that the State Department is acting like a global sales agent for biotech behemoths such as Monsanto. According to a report released Tuesday by Food & Water Watch, American ambassadors are pushing genetically modified products by “twisting the arms of countries,” actively lobbying foreign governments to enact pro-biotechnology policies and waging a vast public relations campaign to improve the image of the biotech industry.
The report was pulled together with the help of hundreds of diplomatic cables that were made publicly available by WikiLeaks.
“The U.S. Department of State is selling seeds instead of democracy,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a press release. “This report provides a chilling snapshot of how a handful of giant biotechnology companies are unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy and undermining our diplomatic efforts to promote security, international development and transparency worldwide. This report is a call to action for Americans because public policy should not be for sale to the highest bidder.”
Common Dreams listed the various ways in which the State Department ensures that the demands made by large biotech companies are met.
The U.S. State Department’s multifaceted efforts to promote the biotechnology industry overseas: The State Department targeted foreign reporters, hosted and coordinated pro-biotech conferences and public events and brought foreign opinion-makers to the United States on high-profile junkets to improve the image of agricultural biotechnology overseas and overcome widespread public opposition to GE crops and foods.
The State Department’s coordinated campaign to promote biotech business interests: The State Department promoted not only pro-biotechnology policies but also the products of biotech companies. The strategy cables explicitly “protect the interests” of biotech exporters, “facilitate trade in agri-biotech products” and encourage the cultivation of GE crops in more countries, especially in the developing world.
The State Department’s determined advocacy to press the developing world to adopt biotech crops:The diplomatic cables document a coordinated effort to lobby countries in the developing world to pass legislation and implement regulations favored by the biotech seed industry. This study examines the State Department lobbying campaigns in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to pass pro-biotech laws.
The State Department’s efforts to force other nations to accept biotech crop and food imports: The State Department works with the U.S. Trade Representative to promote the export of biotech crops and to force nations that do not want these imports to accept U.S. biotech foods and crops.
You can read the full report here.