The Land Report released a report summarizing their research into the top farmland owners in the United States. At the top of the list sit Bill and Melinda Gates, the well-known profiteers masquerading as philanthropists. Bill Gates and his wife have been quietly buying up large parcels of U.S. farmland, making them America’s largest private farmland owners. Covering his tracks and making ownership hard to trace, Gates hides behind shell companies with reports of purchases such as one by a “Louisiana investor,” a limited liability company associated with Angelina Agriculture of Monterey, Louisiana. According to The Land Report, the Gates own 242,000 acres of U.S. farmland, comprised of large parcels in at least 18 states around the country. You have to wonder if he’s hidden more. “The Gates Foundation has rapidly become the most influential actor in the world of global health and agricultural policies, but there’s no oversight or accountability in how that influence is managed,” says journalist Colin Todhunter. And we agree. A guy with no formal science, medical, public health, or agricultural education… yet his obscene wealth has given him obscene power. As a strong supporter and funder of genetically engineered crops, Gates is no friend to public health, our environment, or economic and food justice. His “accomplishments” include:
- Tens of millions of dollars of funding to Cornell University’s “Alliance for Science,” an industry-backed pro-GMO propaganda machine.
- Ongoing efforts to force GMO crops down the throats of Africans as part of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) initiative. More than 80% of Africa’s seed supply comes from millions of small-scale farmers who save and exchange seeds from year to year. But AGRA is promoting dependence on corporate patented seed and the introduction of industrialized, chemical-dependent farming systems which would enable a few large companies to control seed research and development, production and distribution, and to enslave African farmers.
- Strongly endorsed new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR , which have been found in numerous studies to have unintended, off-target effects.
- Supports gene drives that are designed to wipe out entire species.
- Invested tens of millions of dollars in the development and promotion of GMO Golden Rice that was supposed to save the world from Vitamin A deficiency blindness despite crop yield deficiencies, vitamin A degradation in storage, and lack of cultural acceptance. Golden rice remains an unviable technology despite decades of research.
- Supports the development of patented gene-edited animals, which he claims is vital “because a cow or a few chickens, goats, or sheep can make a big difference in the lives of the world’s poorest people, three-quarters of who get their food and income by farming small plots of land.”
- In bed with the big agrichemical corporations.
- Calls his efforts “sustainable” and “regenerative”, attempting to co-opt the messaging of the real regenerative agricultural movement.
We’ve seen the havoc GMOs have wreaked on our health and our environment in recent years. The detrimental chronic health effects, obscene levels of pesticides sprayed on failing GMO crops, depletion of critical soil nutrients and damage to the microorganisms in our soil, corporate control of our food supply… and the financial disadvantage to organic farmers who grow real food are not a coincidence. And as for food security, Gates should leave the food production to experienced farmers who understand the truly agroecological, chemical-free approaches to agriculture, which high-level UN reports have advocated for to ensure equitable global food security. But this would leave the small farmers that grow real food intact and independent from Big Ag, something which is counter to the underlying aims of the corporations that the Gates Foundation supports. The moment of reckoning for Mr. Gates has come. Instead of philanthropy for profit, how about some real philanthropy for good? Tell Gates to donate his farmland to experienced organic farmers such as the Rodale Institute with over 70 years of agricultural research and experience. Leave it to the farmers who know how to grow healthy, nutrient-rich food that feeds real people, not junk food companies. Goodness knows he can afford it.
PETITION TO BILL GATES & THE GATES FOUNDATION
Dear Mr. Gates,
We learned that you are now the largest holder of farmland in the United States and we’d like to have a respectful, heart to heart discussion with you. Over the years, you have expressed unwavering support for genetic engineering and chemical-dependent farming. Sadly, while you may have been misled to believe that this is a sustainable approach to feeding the world, independent science has now documented that this is far from the truth. GMO crops are failing. The USDA is considering the withdrawal of nearly all insecticide producing GMO corn varieties. Pesticide use has skyrocketed, with the latest generation of GMO crops awaiting approval engineered to be tolerant of 5 different toxic herbicides. And a newly published study found that U.S. conventional corn growers now incur over a half-billion dollars per year in extra fertilizer costs due to the long‐term loss of soil fertility through erosion and organic matter loss caused by conventional farming practices. To top it off, synthetic fertilizer runoff is leading to major pollution of our waters. We are all for scientific research. But the science of genetics is still in its infancy. Genetic research and experimentation on our food should be locked inside a greenhouse until each genetically engineered organism can be thoroughly and independently studied in long term feeding trials that would uncover potential chronic toxicity. Multiple studies have recently found that genetic engineering has the potential to create unintended and off-target changes to the chemistry of the plant. Science tells us that traditional 60-day animal feeding studies conducted by companies that stand to profit from the sale of a patented, novel seed just aren’t enough. America is in a public health crisis. GMO crops are primarily used to produce junk foods that have contributed to the deterioration of our collective health. Farmers need to grow a diversity of nutrient-dense foods to restore our health. And one more thing. Organic regenerative no-till agricultural practices…
- are competitive with conventional yields after a 5-year transition period
- produce yields up to 40% higher in times of drought
- earn 3-6x greater profits for farmers
- leach no toxic chemicals into waterways
- use 45% less energy
- release 40% fewer carbon emissions
This is why we are petitioning to ask that you donate your U.S. farmland holdings to credentialed and experienced agricultural experts such as Rodale Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on organic agriculture, related research, and farmer training for over 70 years. Organizations like Rodale can oversee the equitable distribution of your land to organic smallholder farmers. According to a 40-year agricultural study of organic and conventional commodity crops grown side by side, it takes five years for farmers to fully transition to organic from conventional agriculture that relies on synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. So in addition to donating your farmland holdings, and in the interest of philanthropy for public and environmental health instead of profit, we call upon you to create and donate to an organic transition fund to support and encourage the much-needed transition from pesticide-intensive GMO monoculture to biodiverse, smallholder farms that grow organic, nutrient-dense foods using agricultural practices laid out by the Rodale Institute. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully yours,
A Concerned Citizen