Philanthropy and Profit the Bill Gates Way
The Bill Gates Foundation: Call it what it is: not a Foundation but a Front to advance the interests of an already super-wealthy elite.
Gates’s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is not about feeding hunger, or strengthening farmer rights, but rather about feeding agribusiness profits through the use of commercial seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides which impoverish small-scale farmers and make any effort to advance agro-ecology impossible.
As always, the focus is on creating agribusiness farms that grow corn or soy rather than growing food which is actually nutritious. These pesticide, seed and herbicide companies do everything possible to eradicate the use of local farmers’ seed and lobby to change national and regional regulations--regulations that establish intellectual property rights over seeds, privatizing them for the sake of greater profit.
As I have said before one of the most potent, corporate propaganda tricks advanced by the well-to-do in the United States and Canada has been the projection of themselves as lovers of philanthropy and charity on behalf of the needy and less fortunate. In reality, these people see charity as the perfect means through which they can get their foot in the door of public institutions, universities and other public agencies. Their philanthropy always has a price tag attached to it. Corporate charity typically cashes out for the rich and powerful in the form of decision-making power. Donors are given a seat on boards, advisory committees or commissions where they can influence and restructure public institutions along business lines.
The operative principle behind the Gates Foundation is the expression of compassion for the poor through making market forces “work better.” Of course Gates “smarter charity” really functions to turn private greed into a public good! When they 'give' it is never for the sake of promoting human and environmental health and welfare, but always philanthropy for the sake of private profit and corporate self-interest at the expense of long-term public good.
That is what the Gates Foundation's 'Green Revolution in Africa' (AGRA) is all about. A society that honors fairness, solidarity and equality – that genuinely cares for the health and well-being of its citizens – has little need for manufactured top-down charity. That's because such a society, from the ground up, builds economic institutions, consultative forums and political frameworks that democratically enable all citizens to be participants in a shared commons, where each person is encouraged to develop their particular talents and no one need suffer the indignity of gross injustice, burdensome debt or soul-destroying poverty.