This week, a coalition of over 200 U.S. grassroots organizations
have organized a series of events in Washington DC to protest
the devastating effects of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
World Bank projects on developing countries. From April 21 - 25,
2004, the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic
Justice coalition will lobby for transparency and accountability
in the policies and practices of international financial institutions.
Coalition members will also demonstrate how these institutions
undermine sustainable development.
On April 21st an "Unhappy Birthday for the IMF and World
Bank" demonstration was held, in which thousands of postcards
urging debt cancellation and an end to debilitating structural
adjustment policies were presented in front of World Bank and
IMF offices. Other events include a vigil by the Religious Working
Group on the World Bank and IMF with the title, "Cry of the
People, Cry of the Earth: Will the World Bank and IMF Respond?"
and the 50 Years Is Enough annual conference, whose theme this
year is "Resisting Market Fundamentalism: Retirement Planning
for the IMF and World Bank at 60."
PANNA's work monitoring pesticide reduction policies in World
Bank agricultural projects corroborates the findings of the 50
Years Is Enough coalition. World Bank projects continue to promote
the pesticide dependent, high input, industrialized agricultural
systems advocated by the structural adjustment policies of both
the IMF and the Bank. Nor does the World Bank meet its objectives
of promoting "environmentally sound, financially and economically
feasible, and socially acceptable means of economic development."
With specific reference to pesticides, five years after adopting
a revised pest management policy to reduce farmers' reliance on
pesticides and promote ecologically based integrated pest management
(IPM), the Bank has largely failed to translate the policy into
meaningful action. PANNA's new study, The Persistence of Pesticide
Dependence: a review of World Bank projects and their compliance
with the World Bank's Pest Management Policy, 1999-2003, found
that only 9% of the 100 reviewed World Bank projects effectively
incorporate IPM and are likely to be in compliance with Bank policy.
The majority of World Bank projects relied on pesticides as the
primary approach towards pest management or agricultural "intensification."
In addition to pesticides, the World Bank funds the research,
development, field-testing and planting of genetically modified
(GM) crops, despite multiple research findings indicating GM crops
increase pesticide use, among other negative impacts. Recent internal
World Bank documents indicate the Bank has already approved US$
50 million in project loans for "agricultural biotechnologies,"
including funds to develop transgenic crops such as Bt. cotton
and Bt. rice. A dozen or more World Bank funded projects, in Brazil,
Indonesia, India, Peru, Romania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya
refer specifically to agricultural biotechnology in project documents.
For example, the India National Technology Project (NATP) is
a five-year, US$200 million project that allocates US$20 million
to support the research and development of transgenic cotton,
rice, sorghum, groundnut, chickpea and pigeon pea. NATP has published
claims of substantial progress towards its goal of promoting "frontier
technologies," including the creation of transgenic tobacco
and groundnut plants.
As the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice
events highlight the negative impacts of IMF and World Bank policies
on developing nations, PANNA urges the World Bank to support rural
development strategies that empower rural communities to control
their own resources and build on local agricultural knowledge
and technology systems. Farming strategies that rely on local
agricultural biodiversity and locally available inputs have been
shown to increase farmers' profits, better protect the environment
and biodiversity, and lower rural poverty levels. Overwhelming
evidence from the field indicates that there are many better ways
forward when it comes to sustainable agricultural development.
Sources: The Persistence of Pesticide Dependence: a review of
World Bank projects and their compliance with the World Bank's
Pest Management Policy, 1999-2003, PANNA, January 2004; India
for a National Agricultural Technology Project. February 12, 1998.
Report No. 7082-IN. World Bank: Washington DC, http://www.worldbank.org;
Indian Council Agricultural Research (ICAR) Annual Report 2002-2003
and 2001-2002, http://www.icar.org.in./ India, the World Bank
and GE crops. PANNA, Preliminary Research; World Bank Technical
Briefing from the Vice President and Secretary, Biotechnology
for Poverty Alleviation and Economic Growth: challenges and options
for the World Bank, January 7, 2002.