Daily Archives: October 24, 2009

Obama declares swine flu national emergency

Catherine Governale

Catherine Governale holds her son George after being vaccinated for swine flu in Culver City, Calif., on Friday. Nick Ut / AP

Order could speed up treatments by waiving certain medical standards

msnbc.com | Oct 24, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation declaring swine flu a national emergency, the White House said Saturday. The order gives his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

Administration officials said the declaration was a pre-emptive move designed to make decisions easier when they need to be made. Officials said the move was not in response to any single development.

Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.

Some hospitals have opened drive-thrus and drive-up tent clinics to screen and treat swine flu patients. The idea is to keep infectious people out of regular emergency rooms and away from other sick patients.

Hospitals could modify patient rules — for example, requiring them to give less information during a hectic time — to quicken access to treatment, with government approval, under the declaration.

It also addresses a financial question for hospitals — reimbursement for treating people at sites not typically approved. For instance, federal rules do not allow hospitals to put up treatment tents more than 250 yards away from the doors; if the tents are 300 yards or more away, typically federal dollars won’t go to pay for treatment.

Administration officials said those rules might not make sense while fighting the swine flu, especially if the best piece of pavement is in the middle of a parking lot and some medical centers already are putting in place parts of their emergency plans.

The national emergency declaration was the second of two steps needed to give Sebelius extraordinary powers during a crisis.

On April 26, the administration declared swine flu a public health emergency, allowing the shipment of roughly 12 million doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile to states in case they eventually needed them. At the time, there were 20 confirmed cases in the U.S. of people recovering easily. There was no vaccine against swine flu, but the CDC had taken the initial step necessary for producing one.

More widespread than ever

Swine flu is more widespread now than it’s ever been, and has resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. deaths so far, officials said Friday.

Flu illnesses are as widespread now as they are at the winter peak of normal flu seasons, Thomas Frieden, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters. “To be basically in the peak of flu season in October is extremely unusual,” he said.

“We expect that influenza will occur in waves and we can’t predict how high, how far or how long the wave will go or when the next will come,” he added.

“Many millions” of Americans have had swine flu so far, according to an estimate he gave at a Friday press conference. The government doesn’t test everyone to confirm swine flu so it doesn’t have an exact count.

Frieden updated some other estimates, too, saying there have been more than 20,000 hospitalizations.

Nearly 100 swine flu deaths in children have been reported, CDC officials also said.

Forty-six states now have widespread flu activity. The only states without widespread flu are Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and South Carolina. There are at least two different types of flu causing illnesses; tests from about 5,000 patients suggest that nearly all the flu cases are swine flu.

‘Frustrating’ production delays

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine won’t protect against swine flu; a separate swine flu vaccine is needed. Vaccine production takes several months, and the work on seasonal vaccine was already well under way when swine flu was first identified in April. It was too late for the swine flu virus to be included in the seasonal doses.

Because of swine flu vaccine production delays, the government has backed off initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million vaccine doses would be available by mid-October. As of Wednesday, only 11 million doses had been shipped to health departments, doctor’s offices and other providers across the country, CDC officials said.

“It’s frustrating to all of us. We wish there were more vaccine available,” Frieden said.

The flu virus has to be grown in chicken eggs, and the yield hasn’t been as high as was initially hoped, CDC officials explained. “Even if you yell at them, they don’t grow faster,” Frieden said.

He added that 5 million new doses became available in the past week, and vaccine should be more plentiful soon.

Much of the vaccine currently available is a nasal spray from AstraZeneca’s unit MedImmune.

The Obama administration has ordered vaccine from five manufacturers: Sanofi-Aventis SA, CSL Ltd, Novartis AG, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca’s MedImmune.

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Tiffany Evans: ‘Rihanna & Others In Music Industry Are Satanists’


In the official picture for the “Russian Roulette” single, Rihanna is not only wrapped in barbed wire naked, but she is also wearing an open eye-patch over her one eye that happens to be the alleged Illuminati Freemason Eye of Horus symbol she loves to show off.

Tiffany Evans Claims Rihanna & Others Satanists; Slams “Russian Roulette;” Rihanna’s Devilish History

People Magazine Daily | Oct 23, 2009

By Editorial Staff

Diary of a Mad Black Woman actress and singer Tiffany Evans insinuated on her Twitter account yesterday that Rihanna worships the Devil as a Satanist and called her new song “Russian Roulette” irresponsible for its glamorization of suicide.

The 17-year-old “Star Search” winner wrote: “Russian Roulette= Suicidal Rate gon sky rocket!

“You gotta watch what u say. Because there are a lot of weak people in the world. They are susceptible to anything so anything you say or do some people actually do listen. So make sure its nothing bad. Its okay to be deep,but not murder deep.



“Man! I really wish I could tell you guys what the industry really is and what stars are apart of destroying this world. The stars who worship satan,and those who have killed to get the respect they have now. You’d be verrrry surprise. Some of your favorite people pretend to worship God but they only do that to save face. Or seem innocent.

“Satan was head of music in heaven. He uses influential people…to help influence the world. Think about that. Once u make a certain amount of money. Just know that that’s when they ask u to join. To get in you have accept the beast, worship. Once you join they assist u with ur career.make u huge.only if u agree and obey to destroy Gods word.and his children.

“Ppl listen and pay attention. Its a war going on right now between Good and Evil. Evil will rule this world for a min. The people that have this power are the people that RULE the whole world. I’m done I won’t say anymore before I get in trouble.

“Being in this industry for many years, I’ve come to realize artist and labels need to be held accountable for their actions. I strongly feel that artists, whether they like it or not, are role models and should act as such. I am opposed to the freedom of speech or artistic expression, but there are certain rules to be followed.”

Article Continues Here

Rihanna – Russian Roulette

“Just pull the trigger…”

Hip Hop and the Occult: secret message in Rihanna song Umbrella Part 1

Hip Hop and the Occult: secret message in Rihanna song Umbrella Part 13

Obama dismisses warming skeptics

Washington Times | Oct 24, 2009

As the Senate prepares for a week of hearings on sweeping climate change legislation, President Obama on Friday accused opponents of engaging in “cynical” claims that are failing to win the debate over the controversial bill.

In a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Obama said the coalition backing the legislation represents a “convergence” of military leaders, businesses, environmental groups and young people who support a transition to low-carbon renewable energy.

Mr. Obama contended that opponents of the legislation are making “cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.”

He added, “The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized.”

Mr. Obama spoke to students and faculty after touring MIT’s green energy research program, before going on to fundraisers for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, two Democrats running for re-election next year.

The House earlier this year passed a climate bill centered on a market-based “cap-and-trade” emissions reduction plan that would raise billions of dollars from greenhouse gas emitters while cutting emissions 17 percent by 2020 and more than 80 percent by 2050.

The government would hand out nearly all of the proceeds from the plan to industry, states, utilities and conservation projects to offset expected higher energy prices and pay for renewable-energy development.

A companion bill was introduced by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mrs. Boxer has scheduled three days of hearings starting Tuesday.

Republicans and business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have mounted a campaign to stop the legislation. They argue that it would amount to a huge new tax on American businesses and consumers and would not reduce global warming because of resistance to similar cuts by China, India and other developing nations.

Spokesmen for the Chamber and its energy affiliate, the Institute for 21st Century Energy, declined to comment Friday.

Mr. Obama went out of his way to praise the alliance of Mr. Kerry and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who wrote a joint opinion piece calling for passage of a bipartisan climate bill.

They laid out a potential compromise that pairs a cap-and-trade system with new offshore oil drilling and expanded nuclear power. New drilling and nuclear power are problematic for liberal Democrats, but considered essential to any energy bill by most Republicans.

“We are now seeing prominent Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham joining forces with longtime leaders like John Kerry on this issue to swiftly pass a bill through the Senate, as well,” Mr. Obama said.

The American Energy Alliance, a group that opposes cap-and-trade, Thursday began airing radio ads in South Carolina criticizing Mr. Graham for his stance. Mr. Graham said Friday that the Kerry-Boxer bill does not do enough for business and consumers as written, so he wants to continue working on a compromise, the Associated Press reported.

“Global climate change is not a religion to me, but I do believe carbon pollution is harmful to the environment and I want to find a way to fix that problem,” he told reporters.

Mr. Obama has pushed the Senate to either pass its bill or make substantial progress before the upcoming U.N. global climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

Quick passage of a Senate bill is not considered likely, however.

Mr. Obama has taken a far more aggressive approach to air pollution than his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new emissions rules for motor vehicles and has taken preliminary steps toward direct regulation of greenhouse gas emissions should Congress fail to pass a climate bill.

Environmental and health groups said Friday that they had reached an agreement with the EPA to impose new restrictions on emissions of mercury, lead, soot and other toxic pollutants from U.S. power plants by late 2011.

Poll: Americans’ belief in global warming cools

AP | Oct 23, 2009


WASHINGTON — The number of Americans who believe there is solid evidence that the Earth is warming because of pollution is at its lowest point in three years, according to a survey released Thursday.

The poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 57 percent believe there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth has gotten warmer over the past few decades, and as a result, people are viewing the problem as less serious. That’s down from 77 percent in 2006.

The steepest drop occurred during the last year, as Congress and the Obama administration have taken steps to control heat-trapping emissions for the first time. The drop also was seen during a time of mounting scientific evidence of climate change — from melting ice caps to the world’s oceans hitting the highest monthly recorded temperatures this summer.

The poll was released a day after 18 scientific organizations wrote Congress to reaffirm the consensus behind global warming.

“The priority that people give to pollution and environmental concerns and a whole host of other issues is down because of the economy and because of the focus on other things,” said Andrew Kohut, the director of the research center, which conducted the poll from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. “When the focus is on other things, people forget and see these issues as less grave.”

Despite misgivings about the science, half the respondents still said they supported limits on greenhouse gases, even if it could lead to higher energy prices. But many of those supporters have heard little to nothing about cap-and-trade, the main mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases favored by the White House and central to legislation passed by the House and a bill the Senate will take up next week.

Under cap-and-trade, a price is put on each ton of pollution and businesses can buy and sell permits to meet emissions limits.

Other results of the survey also suggest that it will be tough politically to enact a law limiting emissions of global warming pollution. While three-quarters of Democrats believe the evidence of a warming planet is solid, and nearly half believe the problem is serious, far fewer conservative and moderate Democrats see the problem as grave as they did last year.

Regional differences were also detected. People living in the Midwest and mountainous areas of the West are far less likely to view global warming as a serious problem and to support limits on greenhouse gases than those in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Both the House and Senate bills have been drafted by lawmakers from Massachusetts and California.

Earlier polls, from different organizations, have not detected a growing skepticism about the science behind global warming.

Since 1997, the percentage of Americans that believe the Earth is heating up has remained constant — at around 80 percent — in polling done by Jon Krosnick of Stanford University. Krosnick, who has been conducting surveys on attitudes about global warming since 1993 was surprised by the Pew results.

He described the decline in the Pew results as “implausible,” saying there is nothing that could have caused it.
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* The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: http://www.people-press.org

Barack Obama sees worst poll rating drop in 50 years

The decline in Barack Obama’s popularity since July has been the steepest of any president at the same stage of his first term for more than 50 years.

Telegraph | Oct 23, 2009

By Toby Harnden in Washington

obama_snobGallup recorded an average daily approval rating of 53 per cent for Mr Obama for the third quarter of the year, a sharp drop from the 62 per cent he recorded from April.

His current approval rating – hovering just above the level that would make re-election an uphill struggle – is close to the bottom for newly-elected president. Mr Obama entered the White House with a soaring 78 per cent approval rating.

The bad polling news came as Mr Obama returned to the campaign trail to prevent his Democratic party losing two governorships next month in states in which he defeated Senator John McCain in last November’s election.

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup explained: “The dominant political focus for Obama in the third quarter was the push for health care reform, including his nationally televised address to Congress in early September.

“Obama hoped that Congress would vote on health care legislation before its August recess, but that goal was missed, and some members of Congress faced angry constituents at town hall meetings to discuss health care reform. Meanwhile, unemployment continued to climb near 10 per cent.”

Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey is in severe danger of defeat while Democrats are fast losing hope that Creigh Deeds can beat his Republican opponent in Virginia. Twin Democratic losses would be a major blow to Mr Obama’s prestige.

Campaigning for Mr Corzine in Hackensack on Wednesday night, Mr Obama delivered a plea that almost seemed as much for himself as the local candidate: “I’m here today to urge you to cast aside the cynics and the sceptics, and prove to all Americans that leaders who do what’s right and who do what’s hard will be rewarded and not rejected.”

Mr Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs executive and multi-millionaire, is currently running even in New Jersey, which is normally comfortably Democratic, while Mr Deeds is trailing badly in Virginia, a swing state that was key to Mr Obama’s 2008 victory.

Mr Obama is also facing widespread criticism for his drawn-out decision-making process over what to do next in Afghanistan.

Republicans sense Mr Obama is in a vulnerable position and this week saw the return to the public stage of his perhaps most vehement opponent – Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In a blistering speech on Wednesday night, he accused Mr Obama of failing to give Americans troops on the ground a clear mission or defined goals and of being seemingly “afraid to make a decision” about Afghanistan “The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger,” Cheney said at the Center for Security Policy in Washington.

“Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries.”

He hit out at Obama aides who suggested that the Bush administration had failed to weigh up conditions in Afghanistan properly before committing troops.

“Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.”

UN Envoy Endorses More Troops for Afghanistan

voanews.com | Oct 23, 2009

By Al Pessin

The top United Nations envoy for Afghanistan says more foreign troops are needed to help secure the country, and to train its army and police forces. The envoy, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, spoke to reporters at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday.

U.N. Special Envoy Kai Eide was blunt during a news conference before meeting with NATO’s defense ministers. The Norwegian diplomat told reporters he endorsed the grim assessment by the NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, and his call for a change in the way the alliance operates in the country.

“We have come to a point where I believe McChrystal is right,” Eide said. “If we continue the way we’ve done so far, both with regard to the military effort, the civilian effort and the behavior of the Afghan government, this project will not work. Does it mean it’s not doable? I believe it is doable, but it requires some basic changes, both from the Afghan government and from the international community.”

General McChrystal is asking for tens of thousands more troops, although the exact figure is secret. Ambassador Eide endorsed the idea, but would not be specific on how many more foreign troops he thinks Afghanistan needs.

“I do believe, yes, that additional international troops are required,” Eide said. “And I emphasize in particular the need that we have for such troops in order to partner better and mentor the Afghan national security forces as they grow.”

He said that means working directly with the Afghan forces, and helping provide security between now and when the Afghans can handle the job on their own. And he called on coalition countries to all do their share.

“I believe that this can not be a U.S. only enterprise,” Eide said. “There has to be contribution from other troop contributors, and in particular Europeans.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is attending this meeting with a similar message, calling for a broad range of additional European help in Afghanistan, even though President Barack Obama has not yet decided whether to send more U.S. troops.

Mr. Eide, the U.N. envoy, also welcomed preparations for the Afghan presidential runoff election on November 7. He said he has a commitment from the Afghan election commission that officials involved in fraud during the first round will not be hired for the runoff. But he also admitted he will not be able to prevent all fraud in the second round.

“I do not expect that we will be able to eliminate fraud in two weeks’ time,” Eide said. “I think that’s beyond the realm of what is possible in such a short time. But what I do expect and what we will try to do is to reduce the level of fraud.”

Kai Eide said a cleaner election and a credible government will go a long way toward closing what he called the “gap” between the Afghan people and officials in Kabul. He also said a more responsive and effective Afghan government would help dispel doubt in the international community and inspire more assistance. He called the runoff and the period afterward when a new government is formed a “turning point” in the effort to defeat the extremists and deliver good government and economic development to Afghanistan.

ASEAN looks forward to realization of ASEAN-China Free Trade Area

Xinhua | Oct 24, 2009

HUA HIN, Thailand, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — The 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit issued a Chairman’s Statement Saturday, saying the bloc looked forward to the realization of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) on January 1, 2010.

“The leaders were pleased to note the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN-China Trade in Goods Agreement and looked forward to the realization of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) on January 1, 2010 when ASEAN 6 and China eliminates tariffs on products in their Normal Track,” said the Statement.

China has become ASEAN’s third largest trading partner in 2009.

The Statement added that ASEAN welcomed the signing of ASEAN-China Investment Agreement on Aug. 15, 2009 which effectively completed the mandate of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.

It also said ASEAN looked forward to the signing of the three Memorandum of understanding between ASEAN and China Sunday.

“These MoUs would contribute towards the enhancement of trade, investment, tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchange, as well as cooperation in the field of intellectual property and standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment on imported and exported products between ASEAN and China to ensure peoples’ benefit and safety,” the Statement said.

Iran proposes setting up ‘Asian Union’

presstv.ir | Oct 15, 2009

The Iranian foreign minister has proposed setting up the ‘Asian Union’ to strengthen economic cooperation among Asian counties.

“We are trying to find a united stance on different economic issues to address the challenges presented by the economic crisis and offer appropriate management solution for the world,” Manouchehr Mottaki said at the 8th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“If we are united, we will have closer cooperation in the fields of trade, tourism and transportation,” he said, expressing hope for the forging of better ties among Asian countries.

“We believe that a collective effort is required to ensure interests are generated and losses are reduced in regional equations,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

The ACD Ministerial Meeting is being held in Colombo under the theme of ‘Spirit of Asia: Global Economic Recovery and Development Prospects’ with the participation of its 31 member countries.

Iran, which became a member of ACD in 2004, will host the gathering next year.

Asian nations look to ‘lead world’


Chinese Communist female soldiers march pass Tiananmen Square during the National Day parade on October 1, 2009 in Beijing, China. The grand celebrations to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of Communist China included a military parade and mass pageant consisting of about 200,000 citizens in Tiananmen Square. Getty Images

AFP | Oct 23, 2009

By Danny Kemp

HUA HIN, Thailand — Asian nations discussed plans at a major summit Saturday to “lead the world” by boosting economic and political cooperation and possibly forming an EU-style community.

The prime ministers of regional giants China and India also looked to foster unity on the sidelines of the summit in Thailand after months of trading barbs over long-standing territorial issues.

But nuclear-armed North Korea and military-ruled Myanmar were also set to top the agenda in the royal beach resort of Hua Hin, underscoring the challenges still facing the region.

The summit groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said a proposed East Asian community involving all 16 countries should aspire to take a leading role as the region makes an early rebound from the global economic crisis.

“It would be meaningful for us to have the aspiration that East Asia is going to lead the world and with the various countries with different regimes cooperating with each other towards that perspective,” Hatoyama, who took office last month, told the Bangkok Post newspaper.

He described Japan’s alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of its foreign policy, but said the region should “try to reduce as much as possible the gaps, the disparities that exist amongst the Asian countries”.

China would “doubtless” grow further, particularly economically, “but I do not necessarily regard that as a threat,” Hatoyama said.

Officials said separately that East Asian nations would carry out a feasibility study for a huge free trade zone covering ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea and a larger group involving India, Australia and New Zealand.

Increased integration has been a recurring theme of the meetings in Thailand, as the rapidly changing region seeks to capitalise on the fact that it has recovered more quickly from the recession than the West.

ASEAN leaders have been discussing plans to create their own political and economic community by 2015.

But cross-border spats have continued to dog the summit, with host nation Thailand dragged into a war of words with Cambodia and India and China seeking to resolve their differences.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh held “productive” talks on the sidelines of the summit Saturday but did not discuss their spat over territorial issues, officials said.

“We have reached important consensus on promoting bilateral ties,” Wen was quoted as saying by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua as the talks opened.

Beijing has voiced its opposition to a recent visit by Singh to Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian border state at the core of the dispute, and to a planned visit there next month by the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Arunachal Pradesh and the Dalai Lama were not discussed at Saturday’s meeting, an Indian delegation official said. The two nations fought a border war in 1962.

Human rights issues have also marred the summit. A widely criticised rights body officially launched by ASEAN on Friday was due to have its first ever meeting on Saturday.

The bloc was caught up in a row on Friday when leaders barred several activists from meeting them as previously arranged.

Meanwhile Thailand and Cambodia remained at loggerheads over the fate of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen bizarrely offered him a job as his economic adviser.

Around 18,000 troops and dozens of armoured vehicles have been deployed in Hua Hin after it was twice postponed by anti-government protests, with another 18,000 on standby or on duty in Bangkok.

The leaders are expected to sign a host of agreements this weekend on economic and other issues including climate change, disaster management, communications and food security in the rapidly changing region.

GM crops no panacea for food security: US scientist

thenews.com.pk | Oct 24, 2009

By Shahid Husain

KARACHI: Senior US scientist Dr Michael Hansen has said genetically modified crops are not the panacea for food security. Rather, the answer to food security lies with small-scale, ecologically rational, sustainable agriculture that focuses on local food systems.

“If you look carefully at global data, the most engineered crop is soybean. Ninety per cent of US acreage, 98 per cent of Argentina acreage and 60 per cent of Brazil are engineered,” he said.

“Scientific data show that on an average Roundup soybean has 10 per cent lower yield than non-engineered soybean. So if you want to feed more people, genetically-engineered soybean will not be the answer,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with The News recently, Dr Hansen, who is associated with the Consumers Union (USA), a non-profit publisher of consumer reports, said: “There is a global agreement under the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTDI) and it basically answers the question what kind of agriculture will be most useful in feeding the poor of the world. This four-year assessment, involving 400 scientists, concluded that ‘business as usual is not acceptable.’ They say the answer is not high technology such as genetic engineering or nano technology; rather the answer lies with small scale, ecologically rational agriculture that focuses on local food systems, reforms of trade laws and enabling policy environment and paying attention to gender issues.”

Asked to comment on giant US multinational Monsanto’s claim that Bt cotton requires less water and is pest free, he said: “It’s wrong! In 2002, Bt cotton smuggled from Australia was planted in Sindh. A detailed survey of 138 farmers in four districts reporting growing Bt cotton on 4,249 hectares showed that local cotton variety non-engineered NIAB-78 received six irrigations while Bt cotton received 11 to 12 irrigations which resulted in increased cost of 1,750 rupees per acre. That clearly shows that Bt cotton uses more water.

“Similarly, in 2002, farmers were surveyed in five districts in Punjab. There the cost in terms of rupee per acre for water was Rs2,600 for Bt cotton and Rs2,100 for non-Bt cotton. Bt cotton used 25 per cent more water in Punjab than non-Bt cotton and almost 100 per cent more water in Sindh.”

Asked to what extent the apprehension was true that with the introduction of Bt cotton and other genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) seed business in Pakistan is likely to be monopolised, he said: “The answer is yes.”

Citing a report of the US Department of Agriculture and the Pakistan Annual Cotton Report released in May 2009, he said Monsanto has gained approval for a plan to introduce advanced genetically-modified crop technology and hybrid technology in Pakistan.

“Approval was granted by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet. In exchange, Monsanto would bring advanced genetically-modified hybrid seed technology to Pakistan.

The government has promised a law called the Plant Breeders Rights and Seeds Act and they will vigorously enforce that law. Such a law will effectively give Monsanto monopoly control over the seed industry in Pakistan since Monsanto is the largest seed company in this country.”

Asked to what extent the claim that GMOs are drought-resistant is true, he said: “While it is true that transnational chemical corporations such as BASF and Monsanto are taking out patents on ‘climate ready genes’ such as genes from drought tolerance, heat tolerance and flood tolerance, Monsantoís field test of drought tolerant corn and drought tolerant maize shows that under drought conditions, the drought-tolerant maize has higher yields. However, under normal conditions, maize has less yield than conventional seeds.

Then there are also other problems with tolerant crops: work with drought-tolerant wheat shows the same results. Increased yields under drought but lower yields when there is normal rainfall.”

He said in the meantime, in the last 10 years the International Centre for Improvement of Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT) has released 50 variations of either hybrid or open pollinated maize varieties. So that means that genetically-engineered hybrid has not produced any useful drought-tolerant wheat varieties while conventional breeding has produced them.

“It makes more sense to go with the conventional technology such as traditional plant breeding that has already shown results in this area while genetically-modified technology has produced no useful results,” he said.