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FAO: Day 4, final debates

Tensions have risen high in the FAO as the committee found itself in a heated debate about the merits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Angola has been leading the ideological bloc whose aim is to ban the use of GMOs from the global market to protect farmers from large corporations. Brazil, supported by Jordan and Malaysia, see GMOs as the future of food and of the world.

Malaysia went on a tangent about how GMOs could be used for fuel, but was brought back on topic by other delegates pointing out that this is about feeding humans not engines.

South Korea and Saudi Arabia agreed that GMOs have serious health benefits while Russia said that those who don’t use GMO seed in crops were simply “nostalgic”.

As debate continued, it was agreed that the real focus should be to protect farmers from corporations, but that there is a need to deal with the question of what incentives the corporations would have to help farmers without intellectual property rights.

In the end a resolution and working paper made it to the floor led by members of the two blocs, one by Angola and Saudi Arabia, and one by Brazil with Malaysia and Philippines, with the resolution of Angola passing with a majority.

This resolution sets back the use of GMOs by a decade and will result in more sensitive crops with smaller yields, but less genetic alteration. This is a huge loss for Monsanto, DuPont and other such companies, who have started mass layoffs and prepare for a serious scale down.

In other news, the Global Organic Movement sent a donation of 2 billion dollars’ worth of organic grain seeds to the government of Angola along with a 20%-off discount card to be spent on organic products at Trader Joes for all Angolan government officials.

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