Investigate the Gates foundation, group urges

The foundation has come under criticism for “using its wealth to influence policymaking in Kenya and other African countries”.

Sunday January 24 2016

Bill Gates, founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) gestures as he takes part in a discussion organised by The Economist about expected breakthroughs in the next 15 years in health, education, farming and banking on January, 22, 2015 in Brussels. BMGF has come under criticism for “using its wealth to influence policymaking in Kenya and other African countries”. PHOTO | EMMANUEL DUNAND |

Bill Gates, founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) gestures as he takes part in a discussion organised by The Economist about expected breakthroughs in the next 15 years in health, education, farming and banking on January, 22, 2015 in Brussels. BMGF has come under criticism for “using its wealth to influence policymaking in Kenya and other African countries”. PHOTO | EMMANUEL DUNAND | AFP

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has come under criticism for “using its wealth to influence policymaking in Kenya and other African countries”.

A report by the UK campaign group Global Justice Now (GJN) titled “Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?” has called for urgent international investigation of BMGF.

The foundation has been put on the spot for championing the use of genetically modified crops by influencing the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) to adopt the use of Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema), which could be genetically modified.

The report criticises BMGF for adopting this “big agribusiness” approach to African farming to benefit its own initiatives.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

Kenya banned the import of genetically modified seeds in 2012 but activists say that because of the influence that the foundation has extended to the Kenyan government through grants, the policy on genetically modified seeds is being reviewed for lifting.

If lifted, genetically modified cotton and maize could find their way into the country.

Scientists at Kari previously stated that the seeds are more difficult to germinate, and this, as a result, inflates farming costs.

The GJN report states that the BMGF has become the world’s leading funder of research into GM crops and is funding organisations to push genetically modified crops across Africa.

It is also funding organisations to change “national legislation on this issue, in the face of often considerable opposition”, it says.

The report states that the BMGF’s strategy is far from a “neutral charitable strategy”.

“The Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” it says.

BENEFICIARIES

The BMGF invests Monsato, an American producer of genetically engineered seeds that has been at the centre of advocacy for adoption of genetically modified crops in Kenya.

It owned shares in Monsanto and supports a number of projects in which the company is a beneficiary.

GJN is calling on the UK’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to undertake an independent international review and evaluation of the BMGF.

It is urging the UK’s International Development Select Committee to conduct an inquiry into the relationship between UK’s Department for International Development and BMGF.

Coca-Cola, G4S, Vivo Energy and Total are some multinationals funded by the BMGF.