CORE's war on poor campiagn hits the airwaves - DeSmogBlog all over it

Last night we got word that Niger Innis, spokesperson for ExxonMobil, Monsanto, the Congress of Racial Equality was going to be on a CBC national radio show called The Current talking about his organization's “Stop the War on the Poor “ campaign.

We were able to get a hold of the producer of the show and provided information on CORE's cozy relationship with oil giant ExxonMobil and genetically-modified seed producer Monsanto.

It is important that when people like Innis appear on such shows that listeners are given the full context. Much like if a doctor who gets money from a pharmaceutical company was to go on the air touting the benefits of a particular drug, Innis and the media should be obliged to disclose potential conflicts of interest. 

Here's a partial transcript of the Innis interview on The Current with mention of and CORE's links to ExxonMobil:

Host: “There is an organization with a website called who report that your group CORE has been funded in the past by a grant from ExxonMobil. Is there any truth to that?

Innis: “Well let me respond to that in two ways. First of all, CORE has over a million contributors. That is small businesses, that is members, that is mom and pop shops, that is major corporations. I suspect there are members of the Sierra Club and Greenpeace that have funded CORE.”

Host: “But is that, ExxonMobil wants… [cut off]

Innis: Just to finish up Mike, ExxonMobil, yes indeed is one of our funders, as are millions, er, hundreds of thousands of other entities, individuals and corporations. Um, we're a non-profit.”

Host: “On a larger issue, do you believe climate change is a threat to the earth?”

Innis: “I think, we're not engaged in this to debate the issue of climate change. I'm not saying climate change doesn't exist, I'm saying we should not over react to it and what I am saying we should do is balance whatever the environmental responsible and good stewards of the earth with very real economic concerns that poor people have. And that whatever changes we're going to make, that these burdens should not borne out disproportionately by poor people.”

For more on the who's who of the climate denial industry, check out our comprehensive climate deniers research database.


Have you no shame?

The high cost of energy hurts poor people, CORE is doing its job by bring that fact and the main reason for those high cost to light.

ExxonMobil gave $275,000 to CORE from 2003 to 2006. Just another one of millions of small contributors - yeah, right.

Genetically modified food has created a boon in food production, it is feeding us, why should it be denied starving people in Africa? and why should Monsanto be condemned for supporting its product? It will most of all benefit the poor.

Environmental groups tried to prevent Africans from gaining this incredible tool to increase food production…why?

Do you still count on your fingers because buying a calculator would enrich Texas Instruments?

How would the ability to grow more food per acre not benefit the poor?…the affluent, or the environment that is being taxed to grow more food?

Couple things off the top of my head as reason to oppose mega corp like Monsanto….

1) Usage of gmo crops in some cases has destroyed the genetic supply for conventional varieties (see canola, and what would have happened if gmo wheat had be released). As out crossing with gmo plants to conventional has occurred farmers who wish to grow conventional varieties can no longer do so. The problem is so great that in north america you cannot grow conventional canola any more, as all market varieties are contaminated with gmo genes. The result has been market loss, as certain countries refuse to purchase gmo food stuffs for consumption.

2) Monsanto owns the seed as opposed to the individual farmer, meaning a farmer cannot keep his own seed to grow in the following season but must buy from Monsanto yet again the following season for crops he or she wishes to grow.

3) There are no long term tests on human health from consumption of genetically altered food stuffs, while conventional has about 10,000 years of clinical trials.

4) The average cost per acre last time I did any herbicide application in research trials on conventional canola was around 50$ per. GMO be it round up ready or liberty link, was 5$ per acre. While this seems like an benefit for the farmer(cheaper to grow the crop), the vast majority of that profit gain was not seen by the farmers in north america but the chemical companies, who then own both the seed and the chemicals needed. You certainly didn’t see people rushing to get into farming now that GMO crops were on the market. I suspect there is a healthy dose of skepticism that gmo varieties will benefit farmers more than the companies that sell the chemicals and seeds.

5)Certainly some GMO varieties that have disease resistance and healthier nutrition could be of some benefit. Golden rice is a good example of increasing the vitamin content in a gmo variety. When it comes to Monsanto from experience their gmo lines are for weed control purposes with the intent to sell their chemical products. This practice of 1 chemical system its general over use also leads to increased resistance to herbicide. As seen with round up resistance in naturally occurring plants.

That’s what comes to me off the top of my mind as reasons people would oppose gmo’s

The huge growth rate of the number of individual farmers using GM crops makes my point. 93% of soybeans, 79% of cotton, 52% of maize and 82% of canola are now GM in the US. Other progressive nations using GM crops show simular percentages. Do you really think you would see this rate of growth if there was not an advantage?

Ian would you post a link to where you read 10,000 farmer committed suicide as a result of using GM crops….thanks.

Try this one for starters, there are many more, just use Google:

Unfortunately, one of the best sites has been disabled for some time now. The site is A temporary site exists at: However, the excellent archiving and searching functions do not seem to be presently available. The site was knocked down (for a second time) a few months ago. I do not know if their vast archiving data base has been permanently destroyed or not. I sincerely hope that it has not been and I truly hope that the vandals who did this are exposed and punished. There are suspicions of who was behind the attack but I guess not enough evidence. If you want an example of how malicious the promoters of GMO’s are just follow what Monsanto has done in their crooked PR scandal. Ian Forrester

Just a reminder - can everyone try and use tiny urls:  - if you’re posting web addresses with really long tails.

Thanks! And I agree Ian, GM watch is a great site! 

You realize (I hope) those sites are junk? I have since read an India Time newspaper account and an .edu account from an anthropologist who was there, both of whom mention nothing of mass suicide.

Along the same lines.

By not addressing them do you all agree my other points stand?

BTW Monsanto wrote a letter to the public vowing to abandon any research into suicide seeds…years ago.

So respectfully, I will listen to farmers actions over your words.

Here’s a revcent investigative piece on Monsanto done by Vanity Fair - all about suicide seeds and the lawsuits Monsanto slap on US farmers:

But I’m in sure in Africa they’ve cleaned up their act - ya know, because there’s a lot more oversight over there than in the US

A little racist sarcasm eh? Typical leftard crack. You pretend, in your narrow elitist way, to care about the poor but, every once-in-awhile there’s a crack in the facade.

Excuse me for being thick, Zog, but can you point to the African political jurisdiction that has more stringent environmental oversight than the United States?

I mean, if you’re going to call someone racist (and take this as a warning) you should either spell it out and back it up, or take your abuse somewhere else.

You are using the same tactics as the AGW deniers, post lots of lies with no sources and accuse everyone who disagrees with you of spreading lies.

You are not worth debating with.

Ian Forrester

If anyone wants to really find out how GMO’s are affecting poor farmers all they have to do is check out what is happening in India where Bt cotton was introduced to “help the poor farmers make more money.”

It has been a disaster, both from an agricultural point of view and from a social one as well.

Tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide because they cannot repay the loans they took out to buy “Monsanto’s miracle seeds”. Costs were far higher than for traditional seeds and yields were drastically lower.

The seeds were only introduced because of corrupt politicians and government workers.

Everywhere GMO’s have been used costs have gone up and yields have decreased, contrary to what US, Canadian and other politicians, along with the large seed companies who have these politicians in their back pockets, are claiming.

So far genetically modified seeds have been an economic and environmental disaster.

You may ask, “why are farmers using them?”. Two reasons, firstly, they were suckered by all the initial hype put out by the seed companies. Secondly, they do have a benefit to North American farmers. In Canada the only benefit is that using these seeds allows the farmers more time to spend on “off farm jobs” (I always assumed that farming should be full time). Secondly, in the US GMO seeds allows farmers to plant more acres hence gain access to larger subsidies from the US government. I’m sure that most tax payers in the US think that agricultural subsidies go into the farmers pocket when in fact they go into the pockets of the seed companies.

Ian Forrester

I agree; altruism and profit making creates a conflict of interest. Creating a wider margin between the rich (few) and the poor (many) only makes things worse for the poor. Many sources will attest to this reality.

I live on a 38,000 acre ranch where ExxonMobil operates and oil and gas lease. I can tell you first hand that they do not care about the environment. I got so fed up I just made a youtube page and a website a few weeks ago so people can realize that Exxon polluting isn’t an accident. They have run this lease since 1935, it is a total pit and even today they openly dumping oil on the ground, salt water, heavy metals. The EPA has our ranch cited as a hazardous site, Exxon is non-compliant, no one cares.We filed lawsuits, exxon drags them out. ExxonMobil continues on.

I see a lot of stuff about the Exxon Valdez. I don’t know if that was an accident. I wasn’t there. But I can tell you that our ranch is just day in day out gross negligence.

CORE - the Congress of Racial Equality - is an African American group that played a leading role in the American civil rights movement. During the late 1960s, however, CORE all but collapsed and the remnant was taken over by Roy Innis who moved the organisation to the Republican right.

In January 2005 CORE organised two events as their Dr Martin Luther King celebrations. One of these was a ‘UN World Conference’ promoting GM. The other was CORE’s reception at the New York Hilton Hotel where they honoured, amongst others, Green Revolution scientist, Norman Borlaug, and neo-conservative, Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s election strategist and the man who oversaw black voter disenfranchisment in Florida and Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.

Past CORE invitees to their King Day celebrations are reported to have included Austrian politician and Nazi-sympathizer Jorg Haider, and right-wing radio host Bob Grant, who once called Dr. King a ‘scumbag’.

The Chairman for the New York Hilton reception honouring Rove and Borlaug was Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of Monsanto. Monsanto is also listed as CORE’s corporate partner. CORE does not only get support from Monsanto for its campaigning. In 2003 ExxonMobil gave CORE $40,000 - $15,000 of which was earmarked for ‘global climate outreach’. (see Black gold?)

CORE’s Chairman, Roy Innis, was the ‘host’ at the Hilton celebrations as well as the opening speaker at CORE’s ‘UN World Conference’ on GM. Roy Innis has proven a curious champion of racial equality. He is said to have called the struggle against Apartheid ‘a vicarious, romantic adventure’ with ‘no honest base,’ and when asked in 1973 why his organization supported Idi Amin despite the Ugandan president’s hatred of Jewish people and praise of Hitler, he said, ‘we have no records to prove if Hitler was a friend or an enemy of black people.’ Amin’s decision to expel 50,000 Asians from Uganda was hailed by Innis as ‘a bold step’.

CORE’s GM campaign got underway in 2003. In September 2003 CORE was among groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, taking part in pro-GM protests during the WTO summit in Cancun, Mexico.

A few months earlier, in May 2003, CORE was reported as planning a protest against Greenpeace, alleging that the environmental group had committed ‘eco-manslaughter’ through the impact of its policies on the developing world. Greenpeace’s ‘opposition to genetically modified foods’ was listed by CORE as among the ways by which ‘these zealots’ cause ‘misery and death’.

Roy Innis’s son, Niger, who currently serves as CORE’s National Spokesman, was quoted in a press release for the anti-Greenpeace protest as saying, ‘The carnage has got to end. People should be ashamed to support these fanatics and the eco-manslaughter they are perpetrating on the world’s most destitute people. Today’s protest is just the first step in bringing justice to the Third World.’

Roy’s son Niger is no stranger to ‘counter protest’. The Competitive Enterprise Institute noted the involvement of Innis when reporting a counter protest outside an ExxonMobil shareholder meeting in Dallas: ‘…faced with the unexpected numbers of free market demonstrators the anti-corporate protestors finally left. “I think we rattled them. They’re packing up their bags and they’re leaving,” said Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality, one of the groups conducting a counter-demonstration. “Victory is sweet.”’

In late January 2004 CORE organised a ‘Teach-In’ in New York entitled, ‘Eco-Imperialism: The global green movement’s war on the developing world’s poor’. Contributors included the lobbyists Patrick Moore, CS Prakash, and Roger Bate. In a press release CORE’s Niger Innis, another contributor, said that after the Teach-In ‘eco-imperialism’ would be a household word, adding, ‘We intend to stop this callous eco-manslaughter’ ”.

It is obvious from this that they are in the pockets of both EXXON-Mobil and Monsanto.

Ian Forrester

Elizabeth, see Greg Palast’s report on the Exxon-Valdez at and IN his other articles he has debunked the drunk Cap. Hazlewood story. Sorry I couldn’t find the specific article but it should be on his website.

He exposed a little known part of the story where Exxon deliberately cut costs by not maintaining what he calls its radar. I think he means sonar but I will defer to Palast here. The radar the Exxon-Valdez used for depth sounding was broken and was costly to repair and operate so Exxon cut costs by not fixing it. Hazlewood was below deck at the time of the hull breach with a junior crewman at the helm.