At the WTO meeting...Eco-Imperialism challenged in Cancun
A somber procession today presented the first annual "Green Power - Black Death" Awards to organizations that have done the most to bring poverty, misery, disease and premature death to billions of people in developing countries. The award ceremony was held during the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Cancun.
Led by a Grim Reaper, some members of the procession carried coffins, while others held placards that read "DDT Stops Malaria and Saves Lives," "Biotechnology Saves Lives and Habitats," "Save the Children," and "Sustainable Development = Sustained Poverty." The event was held to dramatize the harmful effects that misguided environmental policies have on the poorest people on our planet.
Environmental activists looked annoyed and bewildered, as a crowd of journalists and other conference attendees gathered. Accustomed to targeting companies and government agencies with protests and street theater, the Greens were unprepared for an event that targeted and ridiculed them. But according to event organizers, they deserve to be targets.
"These environmental policies are lethal eco-imperialism," said Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, one of the oldest and most respected civil rights groups in the United States. "They know their opposition to genetically engineered foods, pesticides and energy development devastates families and communities - and kills millions every year. And yet, they continue to impose more and more layers of misguided laws, rules and treaties on citizens who have no time to worry about esoteric First World concerns, because they are trying to put food on the table and survive another day."
Innis then presented three Green Power - Black Death awards. The first went to Greenpeace, for leading million-dollar campaigns against any technology and economic development that could improve or save the lives of poor people.
The second was awarded to the European Union, for using its vast monolithic powers to impose self-serving laws, rules, tariffs and subsidies that stifle trade from developing countries, and pressure them into kowtowing to the EU on even the most extreme environmental rules. Both Greenpeace and the EU stridently oppose energy development, pesticide use and biotech farming in developing countries.
Green Power - Black Death Awards
Innis also presented a special "Uncle Tom" award to the Pesticide Action Network, as the developing world NGO (non-governmental organization) "most willing to sell out its own people," in exchange for funding from rich country foundations, agencies and companies. Headquartered in Malaysia, PAN opposes pesticides and biotechnology.
"We always hear how bad colonialism was," commented Leon Louw, president of the Free Market Institute of South Africa. "But colonialism rarely did more than enslave people and take a country's natural resources. Eco-imperialism is far worse. It actually kills people."
"This was not an easy decision," Innis observed. "There were many deserving candidates - and many who deserve to be given dishonorable mention for their own roles in keeping people mired in squalor, starvation and early death from diseases we hardly even hear about in the United States and Europe."
In the NGO category, dishonorable mention went to Friends of the Earth for its high pressure bullying on a wide range of issues, and to Food First - a supposedly pro-Third World special interest in Berkeley, California - for imperial aspirations, alliances with trade protectionists and "bedding down with big-money interests."
Narrowly missing out on an award in the foundations and governments category, were the Foundation for Deep Ecology (for funding anti-biotech scare campaigns), the Pew Charitable Trusts (for best impersonation of an even-handed, open-minded foundation), and Oxfam International (for the worst impersonation of a charitable development agency).
Uncle Tom special mention went to the Third World Network - in recognition of the patently absurd activities of Martin Khor and Vandana Shiva, whose opposition to biotech foods and so-called "bio-piracy" would be laughable, if it weren't so lethal.
Some of these heavy-handed environmental rules may be appropriate for wealthy developed countries that have already conquered malaria, typhus, dysentery and malnutrition that still plague poor nations, Innis suggested. "But for these rich countries and NGOs to tell poor nations that they must adopt the most stringent environmental rules, to counter hypothetical problems like global warming - and ignore real, immediate, life-or-death problems in their own countries - is hypocrisy of the most lethal kind."
Worldwide, two billion people still do not have electricity, he noted. Malaria kills two million people a year, half of them children. Dysentery and diarrhea kill a million adults and three million children a year in developing countries. Lung diseases kill another million women and 4 million infants and children annually. Millions more die from malnutrition and starvation.
All these deaths are foreseeable, and many could be prevented if
energy, pesticides, biotechnology and other modern miracles were more
available in developing countries. "But these Green Power - Black
Death organizations and their callous comrades in arms do all they
can to continue the slaughter, and for that, they deserve to be pilloried,"