Financiers of poverty, malnutrition and death – Part 2

Private ‘philanthropic’ foundations keep African families destitute, malnourished, dying early

Paul Driessen                                                                    

It’s easy to farm organically in the wealthy, advanced EU and USA, where consumers can afford much more expensive organic meats, eggs, fruits and vegetables. It’s much harder if you have to deal with the insects and crop diseases that plague African farmers on constant massive levels and locusts that bring true catastrophes every few decades – and then sell your meager crop yields to impoverished families.

That modern pesticides might save billions of dollars of crops every year and stop locusts before they can swarm by the tens of billions – or that bioengineered crops might feed more people, from less land, with less water, with greater resistance to insects, with less need for chemical pesticides (natural or manmade) – never seems to occur, or matter, to those who demand nothing but organic for Africa.

Many African farmers are women, who today have almost no “right to choose” when it comes to which crops they will plant. They labor sunup to sundown on mostly 2 to 5-acre plats, yet rarely have enough produce to feed their own families, much less sell for extra money. Millions live on a few dollars a day.

A 2005 Congress of Racial Equality biotechnology conference in the United Nations General Assembly hall and a related video documentary, “Voices from Africa: Biotechnology and the subsistence farmer,” dramatically highlighted the difficulties facing the continent’s farmers – and the ways GM/biotech crops can improve their lives, especially crops enhanced with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes that enable plants to kill insects that feed on the crops, while leaving beneficial insects unharmed.

Maize (corn) is much of Africa’s most important crop. But because of drought, poor soil, multiple plant diseases, voracious insects, and lack of modern fertilizers, irrigation and mechanized equipment, average yields per acre in Sub-Saharan Africa are about the lowest in the world. Other crops suffer similar fates.

“I grow maize on a half hectare” (1.25 acres), South Africa’s Elizabeth Ajele explained in the video. “The old plants would be destroyed by insects, but not the new biotech plants. With the profits I get from the new Bt maize, I can grow onions, spinach and tomatoes, and sell them for extra money to buy fertilizer. We were struggling to keep hunger out of our house. Now the future looks good. If someone came and said we should stop using the new maize, I would cry.” 

Countryman Richard Sithole shared her excitement. “Now I don’t have to buy chemical pesticides. With the old maize, I got 100 bags from my 15 hectares. With Bt maize I get 1,000 bags. Now I have money to buy better food and send my children and grandchildren to school and even university.”

It was the same story with cotton. “With the new Bt cotton, I only spray pesticides two times, instead of six. At the end of the day, we know the crop won’t be destroyed and we will have a harvest and money,” South African widow, school principal and mother of five Thandi Myeni explained.

“I sprayed five times a season with pesticides, but sometimes the insects still destroyed my entire crop,” Kenyan Alice Wambuii said. “We would get pesticides all over our bodies. Last year, I got 3,000 shillings for my cotton, but I had to spend 5,000 shillings for sprays.” Bt cotton changed that for her, too.

Biotech maize and cotton enabled these South African farmers to triple their profits, cut their pesticide use up to 75% and save 35-49 days per season working in fields – mostly spraying pesticides by hand.

That was just 15 years ago. Life looked much better. But then the cabal of anti-biotech, anti-pesticide, agro-ecology pressure groups launched new attacks, aided by the growing network of ideologically like-minded donors that helped magnify anti-technology programs and messages – often while insulating the big financiers from direct connections to the radical, callous, eco-imperialist pressure groups. The hopes and dreams, livelihoods and farming preferences of these African farmers mean nothing to the cabal.

The Swift Foundation was founded by an heir to a major stockholder in United Parcel Service, from monies created by UPS going public. Endowed with over $60 million, it awards grants of over $2 million a year and has been a major supporter of pro-organic, anti-agricultural technology organizations in the USA and abroad. They include: Greenpeace, the Pesticide Action Network, the Center for Food Safety (long a promoter of radical anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva), and AgroEcology Fund (AEF).

The Christensen Fund was created in 1957 by heirs of a wealthy industrial engineer. Its $300 million in assets support “biocultural diversity” and fund projects like its Rift Valley Program, which funds “stewards” (subsistence farmers) who want to “maintain culture-based livelihoods on their ancestral lands and adapt their resource management systems in innovative ways that advance food sovereignty and resilience.” (Resilience until they are confronted by droughts, locusts and other insects.)

The New Field Foundation (NFF) was founded in 2002 with money from San Francisco based real estate developers Barbara and D. Thomson Sargent. It claims to support the efforts of rural women to overcome poverty, violence and injustice in their communities. But it opposes biotech crops and other modern agricultural technologies, and gives hefty sums to La Via Campesina and other activists in Africa.

The NFF supports and works with the AEF and is a grantor to the Tides Center/Foundation. With assets of nearly $200 million, Tides helps philanthropies “manage and direct” their giving, but has been described as behaving “less like a philanthropy and more like a money laundering enterprise.” The Center also receives funding and support from major US foundations, including the NFF, Wallace Global Fund, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

The Schmidt Family Foundation (SFF) was established in 2006 by Wendy and Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google. Its estimated assets of $178 million, including Google stock primarily help finance advancing “the wiser use of energy and natural resources to support efforts worldwide that empower communities to build resilient systems for food, water and human resources.” (Resilience again.) The SFF has donated directly to radical domestic and global agro-ecology groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Pesticide Action Network – and Greenpeace, an implacable opponent of Golden Rice.

This miracle rice could prevent some 500,000 children from going blind and save 250,000 lives every year from Vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition. But opposition to Golden Rice caused the loss of at least 1,424,680 life years in India alone just between 2003 and 2013. Greenpeace couldn’t care less.

To date, the AgroEcology Fund (discussed in Part 1) has provided more than $6 million dollars to organizations that promote subsistence farming as a supposed alternative to far more productive modern farming technologies and methods. This includes over $500,000 over the years to the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, as well as $200,000 to La Via Campesina and GroundSwell International.

In the USA, AEF and NFF donors and advisors have included the Packard Foundation, Ben & Jerry Foundation, Swift Foundation, Wallace Global Fund and many others around the world. A representative of the radical anti-technology Pesticide Action Network Asia sits on AEF’s advisory board, and the global network of financiers finds ways to support PANA and many other ultra-radical groups. 

Other callous foundations supporting Friends of the Earth (a core member of AFSA, along with La Via Campesina) has come from the Packard Foundation ($600,000), Foundation for the Carolinas ($5,000,000), Charles Stewart Mott Foundation ($500,000), Ford Foundation ($328,500), Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($300,000) and Schmidt Foundation ($125,000).

These financiers and the radical organizations they support perpetuate what many would justifiably call crimes against humanity. They use their tax-exempt status and clever terminology (like agro-ecology, sustainability and food sovereignty) to advance programs that deny people access to modern agricultural technologies that would improve crop yields, increase family wealth, prevent blindness and save lives.

They should be condemned and deprived of their tax-exempt status, for eco-imperialism and making false and ultimately lethal claims about the farming methods they promote and the modern methods they prevent African, Asian and Latin American farmers from practicing.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power ● Black death and other books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues.

34 thoughts on “Financiers of poverty, malnutrition and death – Part 2

  1. The singular contempt for human life, brutally hard labor, and strife supported by major contributors like oooooh so self righteous Ben and Jerrys makes me want to puke. Each pint of their over priced drek contains another ‘helping’ of human misery served up by their own hands.

    I have never bought any of Ben and Jerrys products. I always was suspicious of their pretentious, virtue signaling, smarmy marketing…. and now I know why.

  2. This is a tale of woe, exploitation, greed and money from start to finish driven by financiers and the radical organizations masquerading as charitable organisations but ruthlessly depriving poor people of help and hope.

    • NT,
      Why are you surprised when these new-money wealthy take advantage of the poor and struggling in Africa?
      They got their immense wealth by taking advantage of the poor and struggling in America.
      I have no idea why these nouveau riche think that they have special insight or intelligence that qualifies them to impose their will on others. In some cases, they just got mega lucky in business.
      Also, we have this unfathomable push for organic farming. As a graduate chemist, I am proud of the ability of fellow chemists to produce very clever, specific, excellent chemicals with the potential to help the world. Why do some come to hate chemicals, when they have no shill to assess how good they are? Organic farming is a hopeless enterprise in just about every way.
      Geoff S

      • Are you arguing that anyone who gets rich does so by taking advantage of the poor and struggling?

      • There’s a lot more to the story. How did these philanthropic funds get taken over one by one through the actions of outsiders? I’m sure the course laid out by the founders was nothing like what we see today.

  3. Don’t panic just yet folks as you know how we were all supposed to give up meat and eat bugs but the bugs were facing apocalypse? Well it seems on further investigation and lots more grants the diet will be a bit more nuanced and variable than they first thought-
    https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/science/insect-apocalypse-more-complex-than-thought/ar-BB1377mn
    I know this will be a great relief to many of you in these troubled times throwing another cucaracha on the barbie.

  4. A significant positive aspect of the “sustainability” programs is that it attempts to improve dry land farming. Many of those landholders cultivating their crops do not have the possibility of accessing water on demand for irrigation & rely on rainfall.

    As such the tactic to increase the capacity of their soil to hold more moisture is to work the land in a way that increases the soil organic matter. Adequate soil moisture is something which lessens the chance of a crop failure.

    There is also variability in the degrees of land slopes & not everyone has level ground. Sustainability tactics attempt to keep the soil depth below 25 cm from drying out before crop harvest.

    Thus education has potential for not only local water management improvement, but also management of field residues & tillage options. In some ecological niches the subtleties of agro-forestry is a positive introduction to local landholders.

    In Africa there are quite often landholders utilizing crop plantings with some livestock husbandry. Culturally this is often their preference, instead of just growing crops on all suitable land & as such the manure becomes an asset.

    European field crop technology that is mechanized, conventionally integrated with insecticides, fungicides, confected fertilizer & special seeds has impressive yields. I am in agreement with it’s practicality compared to what is generally deemed organic agriculture.

    None-the-less the small landholder in the developing world often has financial limits & they can not always afford the pesticides as the growing season requires. Thus, in sustainability programs introducing biological controls there is potential to somewhat limit crop losses.

    Original Post raises good points about developing nation agricultural aid projects being short sighted when oppose scientifically manipulated seeds that are an improvement. There is a bit of unfairness insinuating westerners involved are not contributing to the rural poor’s ability to mange their crops because farming is physically taxing.

    • Sorry I’m not a farmer.
      But, small livestock owners in degraded African landscape may be better off putting livestock in barns, and bringing feed to them, than letting them roam. I believe this is scalable if all farmers in region do the same thing.

    • Sustainability, properly defined, largely came about through the worldwide efforts of agricultural scientists, engineers, technologists, extension specialists, farmers/ranchers/foresters and related fields (e.g., chemistry; genetics; food science). Especially since the late 1800s, the world has witnessed astounding developments that have enabled today’s agriculture to reliably and sustainably feed the world, not just through major agribusiness but also by supporting the small farmer, rancher and businessperson. In the United States, this kicked into high gear with the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862. In the midst of the American Civil War, sponsored by Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill, the Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862. Officially titled “An Act Donating Public Lands to the Several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts,” the Morrill Act provided each state with 30,000 acres of Federal land for each member in their Congressional delegation. The land was then sold by the states and the proceeds used to fund public colleges that focused on agriculture and the mechanical arts (A&M). Sixty-nine colleges were funded by these land grants, including Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Texas A&M University. Today in the U.S., many of the states’ public universities that are named “_____ State University” are the A&M’s of the state, carrying on the traditions of science, engineering and technology through teaching, research and extension (outreach).

      Then along came the post-modern, post-normal science movement, driven by “progressive” (really regressive) culture warriors and knowingly or unknowingly driven by godless, Marxist/humanist world views. In the battle of world views for dominance, “sustainability” was wrested from its deep moorings in agricultural history and packed with false meanings derived from practically every “progressive” cause. Today, any time “sustainability” or “sustainable” are used, one can be almost certain that the writer/speaker has an activist agenda, is pandering to activist demands, or is seeking to feed at the public trough. Unfortunately, this sustainability movement has become so dominantly left-wing, even lunatic fringe, that they have ignored and disenfranchised anyone who does not share their world view. In the U.S., that is expressed politically by the new Democratic Party. On college campuses where I work, the sustainability offices are operated by activists, few of whom have any practical knowledge of how facilities operate. They accomplish some good, but they are mostly busybodies, prying into everyone’s business and taking credit for the good work of others. They are the warmists, the locavores, the gender-challenged.

      In the areas of agriculture and environmental management, my specializations, that is why I refuse the term sustainability. Instead, I say “stewardship” to stay focused and communicate more clearly.

      So to the point of gringojay’s comments, agricultural science and practice were already providing the developed and developing world with benefits such as described by gringojay’s examples, with no need to invoke the words “sustainability“or ”climate change” and with no need of left-wing philanthropists’ ideas about social engineering.

      • Hi Pflashgordon, – It doesn’t matter that western collegiates do not have agricultural experience & are virtue signaling with their word smithing (ex: reverent sustainability). What is relevant in the field is whether the western funded projects do some good for their target populace.

        Therefore, if any of the practices I mentioned above are at least to some degree part of the western agronomic project then that is a positive contribution. We do not need to be denigrating development projects incorporating those aspects if they are not “new” to western agronomists or, for that matter, if the project verbiage is targeted to a contemporary audience that somehow believes it birthed sustainability.

        There are different project funding directives & so not every member on the team in every project is adhering to what the Original Post (OP) thinks is ideal. The relevance of each point brought up is worth a better discussion that requires a broader context than O.P. presented.

        Developed countries with modernized agricultural productivity are not the same as rural under-developed landholders. Often family crop land area has been sequentially diminished as the family founders die & their heirs allocate parcels among themselves.

        Land tracts being worked then become/became somewhat small for heavy mechanized equipment to be an affordable investment for the crop season. It is also quite common for the crop land to be relatively remote from the family living compound & with marginal consistent accessibility except by foot carrying implements (& food) to work the parcel.

        I worked for several years in rural Africa during the early 1970s in an agronomic capacity & slept in lots of villagers’ mud wall thatched huts. In some places the mothers would thrust their young children toward me threatening them that they’d be given to the white man if they didn’t behave; which usually set the child wailing tears.

        At this decade far removed I can not offer details of what those lands look like. My best guess is that there are extensive reaches of rural Africa still without hope of connection to their nation’s electrical power grid & so agricultural development projects relying on water pumping has to balance affordability of fossil fuel driven motors vs. parcel holders who make do hauling water.

        When project participants’ circumstances mean the affordable option is labor intensive water delivery then the project is doing good by finding the ideal tactic maximizing soil moisture retention & calling it “sustainable”. One trick I assume projects promote is a vertical perforated tube alongside large plants to limit surface evaporation & deliver root zone water – I don’t think late 1800s USA agricultural colleges taught that as “sustainability”.

        Please note: I do not “invoke” the phrase “climate change” when commenting at WUWT. Furthermore I am not a proponent of “organic” agriculture. It is my impression that different people use “sustainability” in assorted context &, as such having wide usage, there is no need to besmirch them – retroactively applying it to one’s interpretation of USA agricultural developments over 100 years ago included.

  5. My 16 year old daughter complains about putting her clothes in the laundry basket.
    Her cousin the same age in rural Philippines doesn’t complain about hand washing her own clothes after getting water from hand pump.
    Providing reticulated water and electricity to homes in the underdeveloped world is the most important goal in the world today. Not only is it linked to so many health improvements but it frees up time for young girls to study and work. More women in the workforce leads to greater prosperity and lower population rates.

    • I have provided electricity connection to two homes in northern Philippines
      This has allowed the replacement of bucket and well with electric pump, lighting, washing machine and refrigerator. Cheap reticulated electricity is essential for improving the lives of millions.

      • No argument here

        The green NGOs actively work to prevent these things in Africa

        Criminal

  6. I believe Paul Driessen is correct, that the most productive and yield intensive seed should be promoted.

    Not so sure about how easy it mechanize the agriculture. The culture and tradition, generally in Africa, makes it difficult to maintain and run machinery.

    To give an example:
    The Swedish government gave 10 new buses for free. After three years only 3 buses were still going strong, the remaining seven were used for spare parts.
    In US and EU, the bus operator would have gone down to the nearby spare part shop and bought the needed spare part the same day it was broken, so the but would be up and running the next day.
    In Africa you will not find this network of spare part shops and the Swedish gift did not include money for those spare parts.

    • Donating ten buses sounds so much better than saying we donated eight buses and some spare parts.

    • Yea whatever technology goes to rural Africa needs to be maintainable under prevailing conditions.
      Nicaragua was filled with hulks of useless donations that had been stripped of salable parts because
      they weren’t useful whole without required infrastructural support.

      For example some well meaning donors set up a complete milk processing plant out in the mountains
      somewhere. After everyone shook hands and took pictures and the donors flew home, the Nicaraguans
      dismantled everything and sold it all to people in Costa Rica, where they had dependable electricity,
      without which all that equipment (especially refrigeration) was useless.

      This is why the decisions should be made at the lowest level by the people there who know what
      is most useful and practical. Just give money to the farmers directly and let them decide.

      • As far as ‘maintainable’ technology for Africa goes, you only have to look at the state of South Africa’s Eskom electricity monopoly. If it wasn’t for the ‘lockdown’, we’d be having ‘load shedding’ every week. The problem seems to be that ‘preventative maintenance’ is a Western idea…

  7. We often have the solutions to persistent problems near to hand. We just need the political will to implement them. Between corrupt third-world governments and first-world zealots, such will is quickly overcome.

  8. In 2015, Angus Deaton won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. “His research focuses primarily on poverty, inequality, health, wellbeing, and economic development.”

    Deaton, an economist at Princeton University who studied poverty in India and South Africa and spent decades working at the World Bank, won his prize for studying how the poor decide to save or spend money. But his ideas about foreign aid are particularly provocative. Deaton argues that, by trying to help poor people in developing countries, the rich world may actually be corrupting those nations’ governments and slowing their growth. link

    “Almost all famines are principally caused by war and political repression …” link Foreign aid just exacerbates war and political repression.

    Thomas Sowell convincingly pointed out that minimum wages hurt poor black families. The liberal left ignored him. For the same reasons, I’m guessing that Angus Deaton will also be ignored. That said, the drumbeat that foreign aid is counterproductive is becoming louder and louder and may be harder to ignore.

    Being skeptical and cynical, I’m also not blind to the possibility that the strong campaign against foreign aid may just, like the campaign against CO2, be forwarding someone’s interests.

    • When your goal is merely to feel good about yourself, it’s natural to look for the easiest solution to the problem you have set yourself to solve.

      In this case if there are poor people, the easy solution is to give them money. The fact that this solution doesn’t work isn’t important. The important thing is that you get to feel good about yourself.

      Those who actually care about the poor, will spend the time looking for solutions that work. They also form long term relationships so that they can observe whether what they are doing helps or hurts.

    • I have previously argued with progressives when they want to increase foreign aid budgets but they want to shut down the oil industry in Africa because it is “easy money” and so corrupts people.

      But oil takes work, it has to be extracted, packaged and delivered in order to get that “easy” money.

      Isn’t foreign aid the real easy money, don’t have to produce anything to get it

      Usually I get blank stares

  9. Maybe Michael Moore’s epiphany will continue and we will see a documentary on this topic for next year’s Earth Day. I won’t hold my breath, but the last few days sure have been interesting.

  10. Good report by Paul. I have often worked in poor, rural areas of Latin America and the daily struggle to get by is painfully obvious. We should note that CO2 is plant food and the current rise is helpful to all agriculture, so tell Greta and AOC to lighten up. Day 35 of Quarantine, my dogs are looking at me funny. Stay sane and safe.

  11. Paul Driessen’s Part 2 is excellent! These financiers are guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Parallel thoughts from my previous posts:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/02/10/we-must-fight-climate-extremists-before-they-upend-society/#comment-2913697
    [excerpt]

    Modern greens are dangerous extremists and racists who have killed millions of little African and Asian children in their quest for a socialist dictatorship.

    They are in fact despicable child killers. Call them out.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/02/08/activist-explains-why-climate-change-movements-whiteness-drove-her-to-stop-saving-the-earth/#comment-2912318

    OK, since Karin Hermes has started the conversation, let’s talk about the sensitive issue of race – as it relates to the radical green movement.

    The title of my April 2019 paper states:
    “RADICAL GREENS ARE THE GREAT KILLERS OF OUR AGE”.

    But let’s take it further as Ms Hermes has done, and “play the race card”:
    THE GREATEST VICTIMS OF RADICAL GREENS ARE THE LITTLE CHILDREN OF AFRICA AND SE ASIA, WHO WERE BLINDED AND KILLED IN THEIR MILLIONS TO SERVE DELUDED GREEN VANITIES.”

    Yes, I said it , and I mean it. Greens always profess their virtue, but I reject that false claim. It is clear that greens have long regarded little black kids and little yellow kids as disposable, as long as green delusions are satisfied.

    In 2016-2017 I had a difficult experience as mentioned in this paper, in which I took significant risks to protect the lives of about 300,000 people. This experience has changed me, hopefully for the better. I feel a greater obligation to call out the child abusers and child killers in our midst and to shine a bright light on their heinous acts.

    Have some labelled my statements “hate speech”? Yes, and it has cost me.
    Are my above statements true? Yes, without question.

    No regrets, Allan

  12. So Paul, who are the Good Guy organizations and funds we should be supporting as alternatives? Are there no organizations out there that are doing the right thing?

    You’ve told me who to ignore. Who should we support, and as important, have our government support?

    • My church in Iowa would take up a Christmas donation every year targeted towards drilling wells in villages in Africa and India.

    • PIH Partners in Health. Dr Paul Farmer. DDT or DDVP
      for use in the huts for malaria control. Predator control
      in the cropland . Big cats kill hundreds yearly in E Africa
      while they are protecting their crops from baboons in the evening.

  13. One thing you can say about the Radical Left is they are well organized and well funded. That’s probably why they have made such gigantic inroads into society.

    When will conservatives get this organized?

    Conservatives ought to be organizing against the Radical Left’s agenda with as much vigor as the Radical Left uses to promote their delusional agenda. Conservatives are behind the curve.

      • We typically don’t like banging pots and smashing windows and other forms of childish acting out
        On the spectrum of artism (artists and performers) to autism (STEM types), the artism types are all about the show, anarchists opposing everything.

        Personally I think all such masked black bloc anarchist types destroying property while masked should be taken out on site

        I guess I’m just a mean conservative

  14. Reminds me of a sign a protester on lesbos was holding, “NGOs profit off Human Misery”, Greenpeace is a business not a charity and the Carbon Credit systems are about controlling you not pollution.
    Their donors need to get that message,
    This virus is not only a opportunity to push Green messaging, its an opportunity to kick it to the curb permanently by holding it up too the cold light of practicability.
    “Virtue signaling Woke C@#ts” are not environmentalists but Closet Nazi Marxists, whos only goal is Power at any cost, most of them have never seen the bush, in fact they seem to be afraid of it, what they want is the wealth of a nation to appropriate for their own use.

  15. Paul <===

    Excellent posts, and I agree with your analysis. Keep up the first rate work.

  16. What about if we could get the rules changed? If the people working at these NGO’s, and their donors, had to live in the area they say they’re helping, I bet they’d change their tune pretty quickly.

Comments are closed.