Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just loves GMOs

It is fascinating to read just how much Bill Gates is getting involved in the world food business. He's not doing it through personal investments, though. He's doing it through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ostensibly, a non-profit. While it is probably true that his heart is in the right place to want to feed the world, numerous non-governmental agencies have already discredited the idea of feeding the world with GMO anything.

It is important to understand how Bill Gates operates. I watched how he operated as chairman and CEO of Microsoft. I watched through the 90s and the 2000s, how he worked to build up and extend the private monopoly that is Microsoft. I watch him and his partner, Steve Ballmer, as they did everything in their power to remove their personal enemy, Linux, from the market. It is fortunate that they failed to do that.

Through contracts, patents and copyrights, Bill Gates made it nearly impossible to buy a computer that didn't have Windows on it. He made sure that manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard paid a Windows tax on every computer sold, even if it didn't have Windows on it. Even now, it's very difficult for an ordinary consumer to walk into a brick and mortar store and buy a computer without anything on it. Shouldn't we be able to buy hardware without having to pay for Windows or Mac on it if we want it? Only the most discerning and well read consumers know where to go to get a clean box. Even then, we have to pay more for it.

Microsoft, at the behest of Gates, also attempted to use their patents to threaten Linux, a free operating system. They publicly asserted more than 200 patents against Linux, but failed to gain any credibility from the public with their wild claims. They even went on a "Be Very Afraid Tour" to cow developers into avoiding Linux development. It is fortunate then, that despite all of their efforts, Linux has bloomed into a dominant worldwide computing utility free for anyone to use, anywhere, for any purpose.

Let's turn now to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and their investments in Monsanto and Cargill. Both of those companies are all about monopoly power. Monsanto is more familiar to me. I know them for their seed patents and their Round-Up Ready soy and corn. I know them for their dominant market share in the seed market. I know them for their lawsuits when they sue farmers for using patented seeds without a license.

Our second president, Thomas Jefferson, would never stand for that. Jefferson was a farmer at heart and knew well the power of the seed. He also understood the freedom that comes with growing generation after generation of seeds. Monsanto and others like them, seek to end this freedom with their patents, for they want nothing but monopoly power.

So it seems fitting for Bill Gates to see something shiny and nice in Monsanto. But they will never really feed the world with their GM products. As long as there is money in their sights, their goals have more to do with extending monopoly power and growing the bottom line. This despite the fact that even the UN says that small scale organic farming is what will feed the world. This despite all the harm wrought on the environment due to Monsanto's flagship product, Round-Up with the active ingredient, glyphosphate. This despite the fact that people just want to see a label on their food to know if it is genetically modified. This despite the fact that one third of the food we already produce is wasted.

Mankind is not even remotely smart enough to anticipate all the problems associated with genetically modified crops. We've been growing organic food for thousands of years and there is no reason to stop now. We could just stick with and build upon what we already know about organic farming and teach that to the world. Then the world will feed itself. Without patented seeds.

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