More on Monsanto

Another article on the class action case against Monsanto.

An article on the United States Department of Agriculture announcing that it will shorten review periods for GMO crops.


What is GMO?

Watch these video clips on genetically modified organisms and foods

Taking Monsanto to Court

The past several weeks have not been good for Monsanto. In the US, organic farmers are taking the chemical company to court over their genetically modified seeds. In France, a court has found the American agribusiness giant guilty of poisoning of a farmer. In India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research is launching an investigation into the alleged genetic contamination of the indigenous cotton crop. Meanwhile, reports are coming out detailing problems with Monsanto’s products and practices. Still, Monsanto stock has been up. Genetic engineering of food and agricultural products is happening everywhere. The question is whether this technological innovation is doing more harm than good.

Gareth Evans on the Syria Situation

Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans is one of the godfather’s of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) concept. In this essay in The Daily Star, he assesses the situation in light of previous developments in Libya and argues that “Security Council consensus about when and how to apply R2P, so evident in February and March 2011, has evaporated in a welter of recrimination about how the NATO-led implementation was carried out of the Security Council’s Libya mandate ‘to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack’.” He adds: “Renewed consensus on how to implement R2P in hard cases may come too late to help in Syria. But everyone understands that the alternative to Security Council cooperation is a return to the bad old days of Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Kosovo: either total inaction in the face of mass atrocity crimes, or action outlawed by the United Nations Charter. After all that has been achieved in the last decade, such an outcome would be heartbreaking.”

Can – and should – R2P be saved?

Read the full article by Evans here.

You may also wish to watch this video of Nayan Chanda, the editor of YaleGlobal Online, interviewing Gareth Evans about R2P.


Check out this blog comment by Dutch historian and journalist Nick Ottens, who argues that “strategic interests always trump humanitarian missions” and that it would be a mistake for Western nations to intervene in Syria in the face of the UN Security Council resolution vetoes by Russia and China.

A Responsibility to Protect Syria?

In this essay in The Atlantic, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Steven A. Cook argues for intervention in Syria. “The arguments for some sort of lift-and-strike-like policy toward Syria are not without their problems,” he writes. Adds Cook:

There are good reasons that contemplating yet more Western violence against yet another Muslim country can (and maybe should) bring a certain queasiness. That said, if the international community wants to see the end of the Assad regime, as virtually everyone claims, then it is likely going to require outside intervention. Nothing ttat anyone has thrown at Damascus has altered its behavior and the current arguments against intervention do not hold up under scrutiny. If there is no intervention and political will to stop Assad’s crimes remains absent, the world will once again have to answer for standing on the sidelines of a mass murder. It is also hard to ignore the possibility that bringing down Assad would advance the long-standing American goal of isolating Iran. Any post-Assad government in Damascus would not likely look to Iran for support, but instead to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That would be a net benefit for Washington and others looking to limit Iran’s influence in the Arab world.

He concludes:

Syria has become a place where violence, colonial legacies, the mistakes of the recent past, and the hopes for a better Middle East have collided to create layers of complications and unsettling trade-offs for policymakers and outside observers. Yet wrapping oneself in the false comfort that Assad cannot hang on for long seems like the worst possible way to proceed. Washington and the rest of the international community must come to grips with the idea of intervention in Syria or get used to the idea that Bashar al-Assad could stick around far longer than anyone expects.

Read the full essay here.

Roger Cohen: “An R2P generation is coming”

In February 2008, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote about the responsibility to protect in light of events in Kosovo and Cuba and the launch in New York that month of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies. Cohen’s conclusion – an optimistic view:

“[R2P principles] need bolstering. The Iraq war has revived a 21st century sovereignty fetish exploited by Sudan to stall U.N. efforts to stop genocide in Darfur, where the government has failed utterly in its ‘responsibility to protect’ without provoking ‘timely and decisive’ international action. Interventionism is increasingly seen in the Middle East and Africa as a camouflage for Western interests. But I believe the tide will eventually turn. R2P will be a reference. It is part of what [author] Lawrence Weschler has called ‘the decades-long, at times maddeningly halting, vexed, and compromised effort to expand the territory of law itself.’ The ‘territory of law’ is now also the universal territory on which human life is protected. Westphalian principles meet R2P. An R2P generation is coming. The prizing open of the world is slow work, but from Kosovo to Cuba it continues.”

Desmond Tutu on the Responsibility to Protect

In 2008, the New York Times published an essay on the concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P) by Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town. Key comments by the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate:

“Unfortunately, the Responsibility to Protect is frequently misunderstood. It is not a justification of military intervention. It simply requires states to protect their own people and help other states to build the capacity to do the same. It means that international organizations like the UN have a responsibility to warn, to generate effective preventive strategies, and when necessary, to mobilize effective responses. The crisis in Kenya illustrates this: The primary role for outside actors is to protect civilians – not least by helping governments to improve security and protect human rights. Nevertheless, despite some encouraging signs, little progress has been made towards implementing R2P, as it is often called, at the UN or at the national level… More must be done to bring R2P to life… The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons. World opinion came together then to say, ‘never again.’

Yet in the past six decades, we have witnessed mass atrocities committed against others across the globe. We all share a responsibility to do whatever we can to help prevent and protect one another from such violence. The place to start is with prevention: through measures aimed in particular at building state capacity, remedying grievances, and ensuring the rule of law. My hope is that in the future, the Responsibility to Protect will be exercised not after the murder and rape of innocent people, but when community tensions and political unrest begin. It is by preventing, rather than reacting, that we can truly fulfill our shared responsibility to end the worst forms of human rights abuses.”

Does the international community now have a responsibility to protect the people of Syria who are protesting against their government?

Mexico’s Calderón: Lessons for Europe

Think back to 1995. At that time, Mexico was going through a serious liquidity crisis and needed the help of the United States and others to come back from the brink of what could have been an a total collapse from insolvency. Instead, resolute action enabled the country to rebound and to repay the US with interest. Fast forward to 2012 and the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. A highlight was this address by Felipe Calderón, the President of Mexico, which currently holds the presidency of the G20. The irony of the Mexican leader giving advice to Europe on how to get out of its debt crisis was certainly not lost on participants:

What is the Outlook for the Eurozone?

The recent flurry of activity to conclude a debt restructuring deal for Greece indicates that an agreement is near, requiring just the approval of the Eurozone countries. Watch this discussion of the Eurozone crisis among European finance and economic ministers at the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland: