The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the world, with a trust endowment valued at $48 billion1 and yearly grant payments in excess of $5 billion annually.2 In addition to being one of the largest contributors to the World Health Organization (WHO), with heavy involvement in global public health, the Gates Foundation is deeply involved in agricultural development.
Their website lists four strategic goals as being key to their goal to drive agricultural transformation:3
- Increase agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers
- Increase smallholder farmer household income
- Increase equitable consumption of a safe, affordable, nutritious diet year-round
- Increase women’s empowerment in agriculture
It’s a noble cause but one that’s being carried out using an agenda that supports agrochemicals, patented seeds and corporate control — interests that undermine regenerative, sustainable, small-scale farming.
Excessive Global Influence Focusing on GMOs and Technology
In a report by Global Justice Now, the excessive global influence held by the Gates Foundation is illustrated, starting with the $2 billion the foundation has spent on agriculture, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
“It is the world’s fifth largest donor to agriculture, spending $389 million in 2013; only Germany, Japan, Norway and the U.S. have larger bilateral aid programs to agriculture,” the report noted, and, “With funding comes in influence.”4
Indeed, in February 2012, when the Gates Foundation announced a $200 million donation to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Gates talked of the importance of brining “agricultural science and technology to poor farmers.”5 These are buzzwords that imply genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biotechnology, which are heavily favored by the Gates Foundation.
The No. 1 strategy invested in to drive agricultural change is, in fact, “new products, tools, technologies, systems, and approaches to advance inclusive agricultural transformation. These products may include new livestock vaccines, or new traits that increase a crop’s drought tolerance,” i.e., GMOs, the Gates Foundation website states.6 As further noted by Global Justice Now:7
“The BMGF [The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] is promoting a number of specific priorities through its agriculture grants, several of which are undermining the interests of small farmers while claiming to support them.
These include promoting a model of industrial agriculture, the increasing use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, the privatisation of extension services and a very large focus on genetically modified seeds.”
Funding Front Groups Pushing Agricultural Chemicals
The Gates Foundation funds the Cornell Alliance for Science, which is essentially a front group for the agrichemical industry, which makes sense, since Gates has also bought millions of dollars’ worth of shares in Monsanto stock, according to AlterNet (and also invested in soy- and GE-yeast-based “burgers”).8
He’s also furthering the Green Revolution, the Rockefeller Foundation-funded conversion of natural farming to a system dependent on chemicals, fossil fuels and industry, and in so doing, “Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto,” Vandana Shiva, environmental activist and anti-globalization author, stated in an interview with France 24.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which has received about $420 million from the Gates Foundation, is essentially a Gates Foundation subsidiary, and while some of its projects appear to be beneficial, most of its goals are centered on promoting biotechnology and chemical fertilizers.
“The main problem with AGRA,” Global Justice Now explains, “is that it is laying the groundwork for the deeper penetration of African agriculture by agribusiness corporations,” and:9
“The BMGF, through AGRA, is one of the world’s largest promoters of chemical fertiliser. Some grants given by the BMGF to AGRA have been specifically intended to ‘help AGRA build the fertiliser supply chain’ in Africa. One of the largest of AGRA’s own grants, worth $25 million, was to help establish the African Fertiliser Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) in 2012 whose very goal is to ‘at least double total fertiliser use’ in Africa.” …..