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Articles and analysis, opinions and perspectives on resource policy, social issues, ecology and international development. These pages will cast a glance at my work as a sociologist, freelance journalist, and as trainer in intercultural education and in organisational development.


United Nations had declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. International Year of Biodiversity 2010 "Biodiversity is Life" is the motto of a worldwide campaign to highlight the many facets of biological diversity, and of its erosion.

Background: Agricultural Genetic Engineering and Biodiversity
The global impact of genetically modified crops

The illustrated booklet has been produced in 2009 on behalf of NABU, a major environmental organization in Germany. The publication deals with the global consequences of GMO cultivation in a readily understandable language, touches some of the misapprehensions of agricultural genetic engineering and gives answers to the question of what can be done. It is available in German, English and Spanish language. An update in German was published in 2013.

Impact Assessment: Changes in the Global Food Habits
Research on 'Nutrition Transition'

The trend of an increase of overweight and obesity has its origin in the industrialized western countries, but in recent years has spread to the countries of the global South. Among the facets of the world food problem the issues of 'nutrition transition' is widely overlooked in agricultural and nutricional research. This increase of overweight needs to be understood in the context of a profound »global change of dietary habits« (nutrition transition), i.e. an adaptation to the dietary habits of the industrialized countries, including health risks and food-related deseases. Yet, health care system are hardly prepared for these challenges.
A set of studies on behalf of the German Bundestag (Parliament) dealt with the question of research-gaps in the research related to world food issues. In this context, our office wrote a study in collaboration with the Katalyse Institut on "Changes in the Global Food Habits".
A summary in English of the overall final study at the German Office of Technology Assessment was published in 2011.

Analysis: Salvation Promises of Agricultural Biotechnology - a Reality Check
A study in German language of the industrial and research policy of the so-called "Big Six" agricultural biotechnology corporations - Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont-Pioneer. The sector analysis on behalf of BUND, Friends of the Earth Germany, shows two things: (1) The main interest in genetic engineering in agriculture comes from the agrochemical industry, of which the upcoming second generation of resistance management of weeds and insects give witness. (2) In order to secure the future pesticide profits, strategic alliances for technology exchange and cooperation in research and commercialization are sealed. The salvation promises of yield increases by GM miracle plants are and will remain unrealistic. [2008-09]
Die Heilsversprechen der Agro-Gentechnikindustrie - ein Realitäts-Check, (1,2 MB)
German summary of the study (50 KB)

Costa Rica: "Hidden Pollution in a ‘Tropical Paradise’- Contamination by Transgenic Crops"
The article is based on a comprehensive investigation that was conducted together with a local civil rights group, the Comité Cívico de Cañas. It has been published in the book Genetic Engineering and Food Sovereignty: Reader on Studies and Experiences, by German Protestant Development Service (EED, 2009, page 11-16).
The underlying case study "La contaminación oculta" (lit. translated: The hidden contamination) uncovers the contamination of fields, gardens and river banks in rural Costa Rica due to experimentation and multiplication with transgenic seeds that are produced for the world market. Its focus lies on issues of biosafety, transparency and democracy, thus it sheds light on the activities of the pro-GM lobby and on interventions of civil society in the Central American country.
The study is available in Spanish and German language and was published together with Pesticide Action Network - Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina (RAP-AL), the German Gene-ethic Network (GeN) and EED.

Bonn: "Biological Diversity - regionally, fair, GM-free" – was the call of the global social movements manifested at the Summit on Biosafety and Biodiversity (MOP4 / COP9 of CBD) in Bonn, Germany. (Video/May 2008)

Bonn: Demonstration at the Federal Association of German Plant Breeders (Video/May 2008)
La Via Campesina, the international movement of smallholder farmers, demonstrated on the first day of the UN conference on biodiversity in Bonn (COP9 / CBD) in front of the House of Plant Breeding against bio-piracy and patents on life.

Bangladesh: "We have our own seeds, we don´t need genetic engineering" (Video/May 2008)
Farida Akhter from UBINIG in Bangladesh talks with two farmers from the new farmers movement Nayakrishi Andolon about Biodiversity and their experiences with modern agriculture.

Zimbabwe: AGRA - Old ideas for a new green revolution (Video/May 2008)
The future of African agriculture does not lie in another green revolution. Here Bill Gates and his so-called "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa" (AGRA) are mistaken. Andrew Mushita from Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) in Zimbabwe explains, that those who want answers to African problems of food security have to get back to the origins of local agriculture, namely to the smallholder farmers, and to the diversity of local knowledge and local seeds.

Germany: GM-free Regions (Video/May 2008)
In Germany, GM-free regions are founded by farmers, who are mutually committed to work without genetic engineering.

Background: Managing Agrobiodiversity in Rural Areas
Folder on the global approach of the German Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), 2000

Southern Africa: Seed-Initiative
Due to massive rainfalls in 2000 countless fields in countries of Southern Africa were flooded. The result: In many places farming families lost also their seed. In an open letter the regional gene bank SPGRC in Zambia, the Zimbabwean organization CTDT and Foundation Umverteilen! (lit. translated: redistribute!) in Germany, were calling on the international relief organizations, not to buy seeds on the world market, but to fall back on regionally adapted varieties. At the same time, a study was conducted on the available seed reserves in Southern Africa, named "Southern Africa after the Year 2000 Floods: Seed-Initiative & Seed Stock Review Study (CTDT, SPGRC, Foundation Umverteilen!)



Publication on GMOs in Costa Rica (spanish)
contaminación OGM en CR
 Zuckerzeug zum Totensonntag in Mexiko
 Setzling von Zitronengras
Established: August 1996/Update: September 2014
Copyleft & Copyright: U. Sprenger, Berlin 196-2010.
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