Greeks bearing gifts-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
WHO said “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” Many say the quotation came from Sun Tzu, the famous ancient general and strategist.
Wrong. Michael Coreleone of Godfather II uttered that line, which in turn was ripped from Niccolò Machiavelli’s book “The Prince,” that defined how despots can gain absolute control over politics.
Recently, the Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service counselor Mr. Philip A. Shull came to town to present the latest updates of USDA projects in the country. Like Santa Claus, Mr. Shull ticked off the good news on trade prospects and opportunities with the US, mainly on organic products.
Shull presented plenty of sweeteners that Negrenses would love to hear in the Negrense Sugar Industry’s battle against sugar smuggling. Why he’s keeping Negros close to his heart soon became clear.
According to the Organic na Negros! Facebook account where I was tagged, Shull jumped into sugar trade benefits presentation with the benefits of using genetically modified organisms.
Shull’s audience consisted of public officials, agriculture sector leaders held at the Governor’s office. Former Gov Lito Coscolluela and Governor Alfredo Maranon, who have both publicly opposed GMO technology in the past and are sound organic supporters, attended the meeting with Shull.
I wasn’t there when the meeting happened. But from the post, it seems a case of the Machiavellian dictum of putting one’s enemy closer than friends.
Why even raise GMOs when the province has moved on, when even its Sangguniang Panglalawigan proponents gave up pushing the Frankenfood crop?
The FB post raised a question: “Could the USDA counselors visit spark another battle between the organic movement in Negros and the Pro-GMO lobbyist?
“In 2009 GMO vs Organic was a headliner throughout the year with both Pro GMO groups and Organic advocates taking their own stand that included several hearings by the Sangguniang Panlungsod. The following year sales of organic producers skyrocketed and agritourist visitors increased.”
Well, no thanks to Monsanto and other purveyors of GMOs. The provincial government, civil society and organic producers stood their ground in 2009 and banned the entry of these products.
Now are we seeing déjà vu on the issue, with no less than the US government raising the stakes -- dangling the entry of Negrense sugar to the US market in exchange for allowing the entry of the banned GMOs in the province.
A quid pro quo, a trade-off that sounds like a blackmail laced with sweeteners. Your sugar for my GMOs. A Google check has this to say about Shull < http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Philip-Shull/4521553 >:
“Philip A. Shull, an Agricultural Counselor with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, spoke at the US Embassy press briefing, “The Truth About GMOs/Biotechnology…” Through this agency, the USDA partnered with national and local governments, NGOs, the academe, and the private sector for training and scientific exchanges on agriculture, livestock, infrastructure, and other food security matters.
The USDA has given out over US$ 1 billion in loans and grants since 2000. “Anything that the government wants to do with agriculture, we can do it. USDA can provide genetics, grain, infrastructure, technology and the whole chain,” he added.
No, Shull is too good to be true. In truth, he sounds more like the Greek bearing gifts to a sworn enemy. The gift of a Trojan horse that enabled the Achaeans (Greeks) to defeat the City State of Troy.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 25, 2013.