Ordinarily, it’s considered the piety of noblesse oblige when the wealthy earmark billions for a charitable cause. In the case of techno-maven Bill Gates, the world might be better off if he kept his money in his pocket. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ranks with Bob Geldof and Bono for image-polishing acts of charity deemed to help end sickness, world hunger and global grief. Of private foundations, BMGF is the world’s largest. Few realize, however, that much of BMGF funding is dedicated to increasing the worldwide reach and power of mega-corporations like Monsanto, and that millions are spent on secret (or just plain stupid) plots to use questionable technology to control nature and populations. The BMGF backs genetic manipulation of crops in a misguided presumption that GM seed will end world hunger, despite evidence to the contrary; has funded genetically modified mosquitoes released on an unsuspecting population; supports questionable vaccine policy in third-world countries; and, as described in a recent article in Gates’ hometown paper, donates millions to media organizations, shaping the content and subject matter of the news. Look in the Windows: there’s Big Pharma. Gates’ foundation heartily backs the drug industry and its vaccines, selecting Dr. Tachi Yamada as the head of its so-called global health initiative. Yamada was head of research development for GlaxoSmithKline, the second-largest drug company in the world. GSK is the company that sued Nelson Mandela over HIV drug prices when he wanted to void patents and get drugs to the needy in South Africa. Forcing vaccines on vast populations that have little or no access to information on admitted adverse side effects of the drugs is hardly excused by any contention by the BMGF that “It’s for their own good.” Many would argue. Forced Frankenfood. Monsanto, the biotech giant that brought us Agent Orange, napalm, DDT, PCBs and the most powerful killer chemicals in history, is the leading owner of patents on genetically engineered crop seeds, also known as genetically modified or GM. Corn, soybeans, beets, alfalfa and cotton are some of their best selling products. Many countries have banned them. But in poverty stricken third world countries with governments easily swayed by Western influence (read dollars) BMGF has managed to coerce farmers to adopt genetically modified seeds by promising they increase crop yield. But research shows that isn’t always the case, and farmers often go bankrupt. In India, it’s estimated 46 farmers commit suicide every day. Some many blame the economic constraints of GM crops that make seed-saving impossible due to a “terminator” gene inserted in the patented seeds. Eco-activist Dr. Vandana Shiva wrote, “As debts increase and become unpayable, farmers are compelled to sell kidneys or even commit suicide. More than 25,000 peasants in India have taken their lives since 1997 when the practice of seed saving was transformed under globalization pressures and multinational seed corporations started to take control of the seed supply. Seed saving gives farmers life. Seed monopolies rob farmers of life.” The BMGF connection is deep. In 2010, BMGF bought 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock valued at $23.1 million. Dr. Phil Bereano, recognized expert on genetic engineering expressed alarm. “First, Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast serious doubt on the foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an enormous conflict of interests.” And there’s more. BMGF has teamed with agri-giant Cargill to the tune of $10 million to develop the use of patented GM soybean in central Africa. Cargill, Monsanto, corporate-controlled Frankenfood — hardly what one could call a humanitarian effort. The Foundation may think it’s doing the right thing but $23 million in Monsanto stock gives pause. Many agencies believe BMGF methods are doing more harm than good. Jurassic Skeeters. BMGF has invested almost $20 million in a scheme to design genetically modified mosquitoes in the lab and release them, armed with killer genes, to wipe out mosquito populations, claiming to fight malaria. That program secretly released thousands of the transgenic mosquitoes on the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman in 2009 and 2010 to see if it would work. They held no town meetings, no debates. They claim they informed the population by mounting a video on YouTube! I can imagine the population of this remote island huddled around their iPhones watching a YouTube video that doesn’t even mention that the mosquitoes are genetically modified! The two releases are believed to be the only release of genetically modified animals into the wild. Who pays the piper calls the tune. The Seattle Times recently published an article revealing BMGF has given $1 billion to print, television and radio programming that covers foundation projects, bankrolling pieces that go so far as to solicit donations. Is it unreasonable to suspect that those media outlets are going to be hard pressed to be critical of Gates’ work or Monsanto and drug companies working with BMGF? It’s understandable that someone who made billions from the field of technology would be romanced and entranced by the notion that there is a high-tech solution to everything. But the problem with hi-tech is that it’s always untested by time. While Gates and the many who work with him spending foundation money may or may not be well-intentioned, the results and the data are showing that their untested, hi-tech methods make things worse instead of better. Their methods end up unhealthful for people and the planet. And spending billions in media-spin doesn’t help matters. With the bugs, fixes, patches and errors endemic to Microsoft products you’d think Gates would have learned high tech is not benign tech. If Gates really wants to end global grief, he’d forget GMOs and find a way for Windows Vista to actually work. Be well.

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