Archive for category: Research and Society


The next meeting of Mycotoxin Society in Nigeria holds this month. Please the flyer and share. FOOD SAFETY    ALL THE WAY




DF  Oct 3, 2023





Eat fat, stay healthy, say dissident scientists. Illustration: Guardian Design Team

Health & wellbeing

Go eat more Butter : the rise of the cholesterol deniers

A group of scientists has been challenging everything we know about cholesterol, saying we should eat fat and stop taking statins. This is not just bad science – it will cost lives, say experts

Sarah Bosele

Butter is back. Saturated fat is good for you. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Claims along these lines keep finding their way into newspapers and mainstream websites – even though they contradict decades of medical advice. There is a battle going on for our hearts and minds.

According to a small group of dissident scientists, whose work usually first appears in minor medical journals, by far the greatest threat to our hearts and vascular systems comes from sugar, while saturated fat has been wrongly demonised. And because cholesterol levels don’t matter, they argue, we don’t need the statins that millions have been prescribed to lower them. A high-fat diet is the secret to a healthy life, they say. Enjoy your butter and other animal fats. Cheese is great. Meat is back on the menu.

This is more than bad science, according to leading scientists and medical authorities. It will cost lives. “Encouraging people to eat more saturated fat is dangerous and irresponsible,” is a typical verdict, in this case from Prof Louis Levy, the head of nutrition science at Public Health England (PHE). “There is good evidence that a high intake of saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease. We need to think about where the sources of saturated fat are and how we can reduce them. The largest contributions are dairy products, including butter, and meat and meat products.”


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The advice from PHE, the World Health Organization, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Heart UK and other institutions and top academics is consistent. Butter and cheese may be fine in modest amounts in a balanced diet, but the saturated fat that they contain is potentially risky. Too much of it causes the liver to overproduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is implicated in heart disease.

Mainstream scientists usually keep their disquiet to themselves. But last week, some broke cover over what they see as one medical journal’s support for advocates of a high-fat diet. More than 170 academics signed a letter accusing the British Journal of Sports Medicine of bias, triggered by an opinion piece that it ran in April 2017 calling for changes to the public messaging on saturated fat and heart disease. Saturated fat “does not clog the arteries”, said the piece, which was not prompted by original research. “Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food,” wrote the cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and colleagues. The BHF criticised the claims as “misleading and wrong”.

David Nunan, from Oxford University’s centre for evidence-based medicine, and three colleagues wrote a rebuttal that the journal at first did not use and then, more than a year later, put behind a paywall, while the original article was free. Last week’s letter of complaint asked Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the BMJ, which publishes the British Journal of Sports Medicine, to intervene, saying the journal had run 10 pieces advocating low-carb diets and criticising statins in the past three years and that the reluctance to run the rebuttal showed a bias and lack of transparency. She replied defending the journal’s right to challenge “the status quo in some settings”, but allowed free access to the rebuttal.

Every time a new review or opinion is published in an obscure or unlikely journal – sports medicine is, after all, primarily about helping the fit get even fitter – it is picked up by newspapers that know statin scares sell. Very often in the UK they quote Malhotra, a charming and telegenic young cardiologist in private practice whose website describes him as “one of the most influential and effective campaigning doctors in the world on issues that affect obesity, heart disease and population health”. He is, it says, “not just a cardiologist. This is a man who wants to change the world one meal at a time by not just rocking the system but by rebuilding it.”

Malhotra urges a low-carb, high-fat diet. His book, The Pioppi Diet, has the distinction of being named by the British Dietetic Association as one of the five worst “celeb” diet books in Britain – celebrities who have tried it include MPs Keith Vaz and Andy Burnham. It includes lots of fruit and vegetables, olive oil and fish, but otherwise “hijacks” the Mediterranean diet, says the BDA.

“The authors may well be the only people in the history of the planet who have been to Italy and come back with a diet named after an Italian village that excludes pasta, rice and bread – but includes coconuts – perhaps because they have a low-carb agenda,” says the BDA. “The suggestion that this Italian village should be associated with recipes for cauliflower-base pizza and rice substitute made from grated cauliflower or anything made using coconut oil is ridiculous. It also uses potentially dangerous expressions like ‘clean meat’ and encourages people to starve themselves for 24 hours at a time every week.”

Malhotra was appointed as the first medical director of Action on Sugar, formed in 2014 by Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine. Two years later, the group agreed to go their separate ways. By that time, Malhotra was expressing strong views about statins, claiming in a BMJ article that was later partially retracted that they caused side-effects in 20% of patients. On BBC radio, he went further. “It was actually probably an underestimate,” he said, and questioned the benefits of the drug for any patient, citing the cholesterol sceptic Michel de Lorgeril.

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He was accused by Prof Rory Collins at Oxford University of endangering lives. Collins said scare stories about statins could do as much harm as Andrew Wakefield did when he claimed that vaccines caused autism.

When it comes to statins, there is a huge database of research. Since 1994, the Nuffield department of population health at Oxford University, led by two eminent epidemiologists, Collins and Prof Richard Peto, has been amassing and analysing the data in order to figure out how well they work in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

They have published many papers. In 2016, in a major review in the Lancet, they concluded that lowering cholesterol over five years with a cheap daily statin would prevent 1,000 heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery bypasses among 10,000 people who had already had one. It would also prevent 500 in people who were at increased risk, for instance because of high blood pressure or diabetes.

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“Our review shows that the numbers of people who avoid heart attacks and strokes by taking statin therapy are very much larger than the numbers who have side-effects with it,” Collins said at the time. Most side-effects can be reversed by stopping the statin, he pointed out – but heart attacks cause permanent damage. “Consequently,” he said, “there is a serious cost to public health from making misleading claims about high side-effect rates that inappropriately dissuade people from taking statin therapy despite the proven benefits.”

But the cholesterol sceptics and statins critics reject the evidence on the basis that the trial data is from big pharma and that the raw data is not in the public domain. Maryanne Demasi, a journalist in Australia whose TV programmes questioning statins were pulled from the ABC network because of concerns over impartiality, wrote in January – again in the British Journal of Sports Medicine – of a “crisis of confidence” in the public because “the raw data on the efficacy and safety of statins are being kept secret and have not been subjected to scrutiny by other scientists … Doctors and patients are being misled.”

There were cholesterol sceptics before statins existed, doubting the hypothesis that high cholesterol in the blood, particularly in the form of LDL, furs up the arteries, leading in the worst cases to a blood clot that can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Yet, says Dermot Neely, a consultant in clinical biochemistry and metabolic medicine and a founder trustee of the Heart UK charity: “The cholesterol hypothesis is supported by a vast amount of scientific data.” Recently, an expert paper was published by the European Atherosclerosis Society summarising all the evidence, to try to silence the sceptics.

But they won’t be silenced. A website called Thincs – The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics – links to published and unpublished papers as well as the various books its members have written, including a joint one entitled Fat and Cholesterol Don’t Cause Heart Attacks. And Statins Are Not the Solution.”

The director and author of many dissident papers is Uffe Ravnskov, a Danish doctor living in Sweden who has been an independent researcher, not part of any university, since 1979. His most recent review, with 15 others who are mostly members of Thincs, was published last month in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology – an obscure source for newspaper stories that has been brought to the attention of media in the US and the UK, including the Daily Express, which has run many anti-statins pieces. “There is no evidence that high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol cause heart disease and the widespread use of statins is ‘of doubtful benefit’, according to a study by 17 [sic] international physicians,” said the newspaper.

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That is flat-earthism, says Collins. “The claims that blood LDL cholesterol levels are not causally related to cardiovascular disease (which is really in the same realm as claiming that smoking does not cause cancer) are factually false,” he maintains. He believes there is an argument for refusing to give cholesterol-deniers a platform, just as some will no longer debate with climate change sceptics.

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Neely says a lot of people ring the nurses and dieticians staffing the Heart UK helpline after reading such stories or hearing about them from family and friends. “We’re very concerned whenever these messages result in people stopping a statin that they were prescribed after their heart attack. Every time there has been a statin scare story in the papers, there is a wave of people who just stop picking up their prescriptions. And as a result of that, many will probably be readmitted with another heart attack down the line,” he says. Some of those are young people who have high cholesterol from birth because of a mutated gene. One of Neely’s patients is a young man whose grandfather and father died of heart attacks at 50. He is on a statin and will be the first in three generations to escape that fate, says Neely.

Asked how he can be sure of his position when the vast majority of top research scientists disagree, Ravnskov says: “Because I am right. The reason why the so-called experts say that I am mistaken is that the vast majority are paid generously by the drug companies.” Asked to elaborate, since statins are out of patent and therefore no longer make money for the companies that originally put them on the market, he expounds on the corruption, illegal practices and wealth of pharmaceutical companies.

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The Oxford researchers, including Collins, have published their funding. The unit has research funds from pharmaceutical companies, but the individuals do not take money from them. Ironically, say the researchers, if people refuse statins because of concerns over side-effects, they may be put on expensive newer drugs to lower their cholesterol – and this will make money for big pharma.

A furore was triggered by the recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in 2014 that millions more people should be offered statins. Anybody who has a 10% chance of a heart attack in the next 10 years – judged on factors including weight, age and blood pressure – should consider taking a statin, it said. Anybody who has already had a heart attack or stroke is strongly advised to take one. Because the patents had expired, the pills had become highly cost-effective.

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That means statins are given to healthy people to prevent disease and side-effects have become a major issue. The stories are so widespread that people repeat them as if they are incontrovertible, yet the evidence from trials is that even the much-discussed muscle pain is rare. The sceptics dismiss that evidence. Those trials were funded by big pharma, they say, which had a vested interest in hiding any problems with the drugs.

Some side-effects may be caused by interactions with other drugs people are on, such as antibiotics. But there is also evidence that some people get muscle pain because they expect to after everything they have heard. It is called the nocebo effect.

The dissidents’ arguments are attractively simple. Eat fat, avoid carbs and don’t take the tablets, says Malhotra – who declined to answer questions for this article. We would probably all agree that we should ditch junk food and eat well instead of taking pills. But, realistically, telling people to “eat good food” isn’t going to cut it. The majority of people in the UK and the US are now overweight or obese, with all the heart and vascular problems that brings, and the trend is ever upwards.

One thing is for sure – the dissidents are not going to shut up shop. “My belief about the cholesterol sceptics is that they are a bit like religious fundamentalists,” said Neely. “They are not open to argument. Whatever argument you present, they will find another argument because this basically defines who they are.” He cites a cardiologist in the 1980s, Prof Michael Oliver, who was a sceptic of the cholesterol hypothesis that more LDL increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Oliver did a U-turn as more evidence accumulated, saying: “When the facts change, I change my mind.” But, says Neely, “unfortunately the cholesterol sceptics we know currently don’t do that”.

Comment==More empirical evidence ad conclusion are urgently needed to prevent unnecessary diseases ad death




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All comments should directed to the Source above


Dele Fapohunda

2 Sept 2023



International trade among African countries witnessed a set back few year ago when  Kenya rejected 600 000 tons of maize from Uganda in 2018 due to poor quality and aflatoxin contamination. A report , by E Gourd  published in The Lancet early in 2023, further raised te alarm in Uganda. At the Kansas State University, researchers hinted of a rise i aflatoxin levels due to high temperatures ad drought, two conditions readily available in Africa. For more, please visit the 2 resources hereunder

Rising temps, drought likely to increase incidence of aflatoxin …

Kansas State University › news › stories › 2023/04
17 Apr 2023 — Researchers estimate losses to triple by 2040 under current trends. April 17, 2023. By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service.

High concentrations of aflatoxin in Ugandan grains sparks …

The Lancet › lanonc › article › fulltext
by E Gourd2023 — “Kenya rejected 600 000 tons of maize from Uganda in 2018 due to poor quality and aflatoxin contamination,” he recalled, “amounting to $48·6 …
Dele Fapohunda
May 4, 2023


Hello Food safety enthusiasts
Below, you find a list of 6 online resources that enhance your capacity with little or NO payment.
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6.Restaurant Customer Service Training Manual Template › editable › restaurant-custo…
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Compiled  Dele Fapohunda
May 4 2023

Procedure for getting Food Handler Certificate in Nigeria


  • A candidate shall check with their respective state, province or municipality on the latest updates and regulations on getting a food handler certificate.
  • The applicant may be asked to provide the blood sample along with the X-ray at the respective office for processing or the applicant may be asked to submit the blood report and X-ray as per the respective department norms.

Apply In-Person:

  1. In Nigeria, the food handlers should get certificate of food handlers through food handlers test / medical fitness tests. The candidate shall apply with the respective office of the “National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control – NAFDAC” (food safety and applied nutrition).
  2. Contact Link
  3. The candidate shall use the contact numbers from the given page as appropriate to find the respective institution to get the required training for this certificate or get certified.
  4. The candidate shall visit the respective office and meet the concerned authority. Don’t forget to take the required copy of documents along with originals to the office.
  5. The applicant shall follow the guidelines of the institution authority to get enrolled in the training.
  6. In general the applicant may be asked to complete the course and obtain a certificate or the applicant may be asked to attend a session on food hygiene as part of the certification process.
  7. Once the training is completed, the applicant will be required to provide samples (Sputum Test, Urine Test, Stool Test, Chest X-ray, Widal Test and Hepatise B) as per the department norms or provide the medical test results from the government approved labs or private labs for the Sputum Test, Urine Test, Stool Test, Chest X-ray, Widal Test and Hepatise B.
  8. Once the above steps are completed, the applicant will be audited by the external entity to get the certification.
  9. The applicant should pay for the training, medical test and other charges as appropriate.
  10. The applicant shall follow the guidelines of the institution to get the certificate as per applicable norms.
  11. The time period depends upon the training period and test result.

Required Documents

  • Application form
  • Valid citizen proof (respective ID’s issued by respective nation)
  • Applicant’s proof of identity (identity card / passport / driving licence)
  • A photocopy of the original certificate denoting completion of food handler’s course
  • Copy of fitness and medical certificate from a medical practitioner
  • Passport size photograph (taken not more than three months from the applying date – 6 copies)
  • Copy of passport
  • A self-addressed envelope with or without stamps (as per requirement)
  • Copy of the police record of the applicant as per requirement
Note: Apart from the above documents, the authorities may ask for additional information or documents. Please provide them for processing.

Office  Contact

Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,
FSAN Headquarters, Second Floor, NAFDAC Office Complex,
Plot 1, Isolo Industrial Estate, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway,
Isolo, Lagos.
Phone: +234(0) 906 095 6907


Source =,food%20safety%20and%20applied%20nutrition).

May 4 2023




These are aerial expressions of vegetative(hyphal)growth of fungi in the substrate. The substrate may be decaying log of wood, tree bark or other dead organic matter Although its macroscopic expressions are now used for all human activities, including nutrition and medicine, it was not originally designed for these purposes. It is designed to bring to the open the spores in order to allow multiplication. The actual organism lives organically under the ground or inside wood, reveals presence only by fruiting. The aerial growth is a reaction to environmental stress, most times, nutrient stress


Benefits /significance

  • A. As food for man e g Agaricus spp, Pleurotus spp

1.Rich in protein, vitamin (B, B2, & C) and has many minerals. The nutritional content is located within the chitinous cell wall. Has no sodium, and cholesterol

Water content- 90%

  1. Protein- 3-4% (retained by N2 content x 6.25)

Dry weight- 20-35%

3.Contains all essential amino acids. Lysine, inadequate in cereals, is in abundance in mushrooms

4.Fat- unsaturated fatty acids (healthy to man) are in abundance is Linoleic acid

5.Vitamins and rich in minerals- Thiamine (B1),  Riboflavin (B2), Ascorbic acid (C), Niacin & Biotin, P, K. Na

6 Fresh mushroom contains fibres and carbohydrates


  • B. As medicine

1.lowers cholesterol level, reduces heart and coronary disease

2.suppresses the growth of tumours

3 controls effect of diabetes  eg Plenrotus, Lentinula

4.reduces infections through the production of antioxidants eg Ganodema, Auricalaria,


  • C. In environmental remediation
  1. neutralizing of polluted          or acidic soil


2.degrade lignin, hemicelluloses like  the basidiomycete white rot (lignin degrading) fungi.  The white rot fungi  can degrade lignin & hemicelluloses leading to the wood turning white, a process called bio-bleaching

3.break down poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)e.g. Phanerochaetes chrysosporium and Coriolus versicolor– both produce extra cellular enzymes


  • D.Ancient people linked mushroom to the gods,
  • E.No arable land is needed for their cultivation
  • F.Agricultural  waste can be  turned to fertili


Edible mushrooms include-Agaricus bisporus (button mushroom), Pleurotus spp, Volvariella volvacea, (paddy straw mushroom)Lentinus edoides(shiitake). Others include Coprinus spp, Auricularia polytricha and the chanterrelle

Poisonous one are usually identified by their deep odour and excessive pigmentation(colouration) Examples are  Amanita phalloides(death cap),Coenocybe filaris, and Cortinarius species.



Mushrooms are generally found in the Division basidiomycota although a few are located in the Ascomycota

They are mostly  saprophytes, symbionts, parasites, but they mostly combine at least two of these i.e symbionts also have saprophytic tendencies. Parasites change to saprophyte after host’s death.

Saprophytes are on dead wood, soil and decaying leaves and other organic materials. The margin and pileus can be used to describe a typical mushroom. The margins  can be Smooth, Crenate, striate or wavy . The pileus can also be smooth, velvety, raised scales, having patches or flat scales.

Looking for mushroom in the wild is called MUSHROOMING or MUSHROOM HUNTING It is the  practice of foraying for mushrooms in a defined area or habitat. They however, can live in diverse microhabitats within a particular ecosystem conferring limitations on their species diversity and number of stands.

The compost is pasteurized to kill the pathogens.

=In mushroom cultivation,  a form of single cell protein is being produced  because agricultural waste is recycled into food(SCP) and the remains serve as organic manure . About 3 weeks is needed to attain harvest of mushrooms. The mushroom grows in “flushes”(sing=flush) which is defined as the group of mushroom ready for harvest. Harvesting of mushroom is also called cropping. Flushes appear at approximately 7 days intervals until 4 or 5 flushes are harvested and the substrate is deemed spent and unproductive. At different stages of maturity the grower can harvest buttons(having unopened caps); or cups (with open caps) sometimes curving up and revealing full gills. 

The significance of mushrooms whether edible or poisonous, is rested on the culinary and medicinal advantage as well as their morbidity and mortality attractions when consumed by the uninformed. The species come in various colours, shapes, together with pileus and stipe configurations.

Amanita phalloides(death cap), Conocybe filaria and Cortinarius sp (web cap) are examples of poisonous mushroom. Edible  types include  Agaricus bisporus, Pleurotus species, Volvariella volvaceaLentinus eloides,  and Boletus sp.


Prospective  mushroom hunters must adopt the following safety rules before embracing any mushroom at all

1 For a confirmed  amateur, totally inexperienced in mushrooming, it is adviseable to stay away from any species  considered difficult to classify.

2 Ensure multiple sources for confirmation of status, before attempting to eat.

3.Do not rush at ‘look- alikes’. Some mushrooms that are considered edible in one region may have some similar forms which may draw an inexperienced person to them for consumption

4 At first, it is advisable to consume only a little of a fairly unclassified mushroom. Then watch reactions over time, even after, enough expert opinion considered such as safe

5.A mushroom that is very attractive in colour is  most likely a candidate for poisonous groups. Equally, those with strong odour must be avoided at first contact.

6 Most edible ones fall under ‘Little Brown Mushrooms’(LBM) group making any similar species, even when not yet confirmed, to be suspected as edible. The danger of such can be avoided by exercising great caution.

7 Avoid mushrooms that grow profusely in heavily polluted areas. They are accumulators of heavy metals, making them unsafe.


Dele Fapohunda

May 4 2023



When a compound is applied to wipe out or control the multiplication of microbes in food or other matrices, the real  intention  is to attack the microbial enzymes, other proteins, the cell wall and other structures in the cytoplasm . Other targets may also be affected as the agent does its destructive duty.

Some factors ,may affect the effectiveness of the cidal agent. These include

1 Toxicity=This measures the power of elimination as captured in the compound. Sometimes the choice will reflect the possible toxicity on the human and environment. If the germicide is too dangerous to the extent of killing the human cells at the same rate it does microbial cells, then this is not to be chosen as an attractive intervention

2 Compatibility=This assesses the function of the agent with respect to the matrix.  Disinfectant or sterilant . One disinfectant that is good for canned food may not be compatible with hard surfaces like glass

3 Presence of organic matter in the surrounding. Sometimes the agent may be weakened by the presence of other matter. This must be taken into consideration when making a choice

4 Environmental safety. If the chemical is very dangerous through inhalation or touch by humans, there may a second thought when making a decision. Its no use endangering the environment, even when the microbe is being killed to stop food degradation

  1. Residual content. Every chemical is eventually expected to break down in to residues. For a germicide to qualify for choice, its residue must also be safe to the substrate
  2. Cost and availability. When an intervention, is beyond the reach of the end users, or not easily available, then it should not be chosen. Pocket friendly and readily available options are always attractive


Among the various classes of microbicides, there are

Alcohols, Halogens(e.g chlorine), Ethylene oxides, aldehydes , metal compounds like silver,  mercury and  copper salts, ozone and  Hydrogen peroxide

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To all our READERS

We appreciate YOU. We celebrate YOU. We are here because you are there. For this, please accept our appreciation for reading our posts. Kindly send us materials like Notices  of Conferences, Seminars, Trade Fairs, International Vacancies,  Awards etc . Of course you all know that such MUST be in the area of FOOD SAFETY.


Keep your environment safe. KEEP your Food safe, this season. We cannot afford your stay in the hospital new year due to food borne morbidities


Finally please give us your advice and any other comment. We may even get them published


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At your service, always


Dele Fapohunda PhD


21 December, 2022


The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa AGRA, has been attracting negative comments of recent. The damning reports were coming left , right and centre. In the midst of this,  a change in its name is being, removing the strategic operative words—-Green Revolution. Many were curious and came up with a conclusion. In this report, T Wise and Jomo Kwame Sundaram  refer to the action as applying make up to a pig——it changes NOTHING   !!!!

Please read on

Gates, AGRA Double Down on Green Revolution

No one will deny that Bill Gates is persistent and determined, but those qualities also make him stubborn, and it makes him sound like a broken record when it comes to his signature Green Revolution for Africa. Despite a damning Gates-funded evaluation that confirmed many of my own findings of low productivity gains, weak poverty reduction, and worsening hunger, the Gates Foundation pledged $200 million to the initiative’s new five-year strategy.

It brings the foundation’s contribution to $900 million, the overwhelming majority of funding. Below, I join economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram to analyze AGRA’s stubborn commitment to its failing strategies and Gates’  stubborn faith that his technological solutions aren’t themselves causing problems.

Gates was in Nairobi recently for a staged Q&A event on agricultural innovation at the University of Nairobi. Civil society leader Anne Maina greeted him with her op-ed piece, “10 questions for Bill Gates on innovation, food security and climate change.” Needless to say, they remain unanswered. But he used his trip to defend the Kenyan government’s controversial decision to import genetically modified corn, offering a dissying spate of untruths, implying that all the corn and wheat he’s ever eaten is GM corn, and it’s safe because it’s been around for “billions of years.” (I’m not making that up, see the video clip here.) And don’t miss Russell Brand’s impressive send-up of Gates and AGRA based on a sign-on letter to Gates from some of our allies.

See my article below, and please consider supporting IATP with a generous donation. The institute stands on the cutting edge of so many of the struggles we face today, including critical work at the recent Climate Summit to highlight the contributions of industrial agriculture to climate change and the urgent need to embrace agroecology. I hope you will support this important work.
AGRA Gets Make-Up, Not Make-Over

Timothy A. Wise and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, IPS News, November 29, 2022

BOSTON and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 2022 (IPS) – Despite its dismal record, the Gates Foundation-sponsored Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced a new five-year strategy in September after rebranding itself by dropping ‘Green Revolution’ from its name.

Rebranding, not reform
Instead of learning from experience and changing its approach accordingly, AGRA’s new strategy promises more of the same. Ignoring evidence, criticisms and civil society pleas and demands, the Gates Foundation has committed another $200 million to its new five-year plan, bringing its total contribution to around $900 million.

More than two-thirds of AGRA’s funding has come from Gates, with African governments providing much more – as much as a billion dollars yearly – in subsidies for Green Revolution seeds and fertilizers.

Stung by criticism of its poor results, AGRA delayed announcing its new strategy by a year, while its chief executive shepherded the controversial UN Food Systems Summit of 2021. Following this, AGRA has been using more UN Sustainable Development Goals rhetoric.

Hence, AGRA’s new slogan – ‘Sustainably Growing Africa’s Food Systems’. Likewise, the new plan claims to “lay the foundation for a sustainable food systems-led inclusive agricultural transformation”. But beyond such lip service, there is little evidence of any meaningful commitment to sustainable agriculture in the $550 million plan for 2023–27.

Despite heavy government subsidies, AGRA promotion of commercial seeds and fertilizers for just a few cereal crops failed to significantly increase productivity, incomes or even food security. But instead of addressing past shortcomings, the new plan still relies heavily on more of the same despite its failure to “catalyze” a productivity revolution among African farmers.

The supposedly new strategy dashes any hopes that AGRA or the Gates Foundation would acknowledge the harmful social and environmental effects of Green Revolutions in India, Africa and elsewhere. AGRA offered no explanation for why it dropped ‘Green Revolution’ from its name.

The name change suggests the 16-year-old AGRA wants to dissociate itself from past failures, but without acknowledging its own flawed approach. Recently, much higher fertilizer prices – following sanctions against Russia and Belarus after the Ukraine invasion – have worsened the lot of farmers relying on AGRA recommended inputs.

It is time to change course, with policies promoting ecological farming by reducing reliance on synthetic fertilizers as appropriate. But despite its new slogan, AGRA’s new strategy intends otherwise.

Last month, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa rejected the strategy and name change as “cosmetic”, “an admission of failure” of the Green Revolution project, and “a cynical distraction” from the urgent need to change course.

Productivity gains and losses
Despite spending well over a billion dollars, AGRA’s productivity gains have been modest, and only for a few more heavily subsidized crops such as maize and rice. And from 2015 to 2020, cereal yields have not risen at all.

Meanwhile, traditional food crop production has declined under AGRA, with millet falling over a fifth. Yields actually also fell for cassava, groundnuts and root crops such as sweet potato. Across a basket of staple crops, yields rose only 18% in 12 years.

Farmer incomes have not risen, especially after increased production costs are taken into account. As for halving hunger, which Gates and AGRA originally promised, the number of ‘severely undernourished’ people in AGRA’s 13 focus countries increased by 31%!

donor-commissioned evaluation confirmed many adverse farmer outcomes. It found the minority of farmers who benefited were mainly better-off men, not smallholder women the programme was ostensibly meant for.

That did not deter the Gates Foundation from committing more to AGRA despite its dismal track record, failed strategy, and poor monitoring to track progress. Judging by the new five-year plan, we can expect even less accountability.

The new plan does not even set measurable goals for yields, incomes or food security. As the saying goes, what you don’t measure you don’t value. Apparently, AGRA does not value agricultural productivity, even though it is still at the core of the organization’s strategy.

Last month, the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA’s other founding donor and a leader of the first Green Revolution from the 1950s, announced a reduction in its grant to AGRA and a decisive step back from the Green Revolution approach.

Its grant to AGRA supports school feeding initiatives and “alternatives to fossil-fuel derived fertilisers and pesticides through the promotion of regenerative agricultural practices such as cultivation of nitrogen-fixing beans”.

Business in charge
AGRA’s new strategy is built on a series of “business lines”, e.g., the “sustainable farming business line” will coordinate with the “Seed Systems business line” to sell inputs. Private Village Based Advisors are meant to provide training and planting advice in this privatized, commercial reincarnation of the government or quasi-government extension services of an earlier era.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization successfully promoted peer-learning of agro-ecological practices via Farmer Field Schools after successfully field-testing them. This came about after research showed ‘brown hoppers’ thrived in Asian rice farms after Green Revolution pesticides eliminated the insect’s natural predators.

China lost a fifth of its 2007-08 paddy harvest to the pest, triggering a price spike in the thinly traded world rice market. Seeking help from the International Rice Research Institute, located in the Philippines, a Chinese delegation found its Entomology Department had lost most of its former capacity due to under-funding.

Earlier international agricultural research collaboration associated with the first Green Revolution – especially in wheat, maize and rice – seems to have collapsed, surrendering to corporate and philanthropic interests. This bitter experience encouraged China to step up its agronomic research efforts with a greater agro-ecological emphasis.

Empty promises?
The new strategy promises “AGRA will promote increased crop diversification at the farm level”. But its advisers cum salespeople have a vested interest in selling their wares, rather than good local seeds which do not require repeat purchases every planting season.

AGRA is not strengthening resilience by promoting agroecology or reducing farmer reliance on costly inputs such as fossil fuel fertilizers and other, often toxic, agrochemicals. Despite many proven African agroecological initiatives, support for them remains modest.

The new strategy stresses irrigation, key to most other Green Revolutions, but conspicuously absent from Africa’s Green Revolution. But the plan is deafeningly silent on how fiscally strapped governments are to provide such crucial infrastructure, especially in the face of growing water, fiscal and debt stress, worsened by global warming.

It is often said stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Perhaps this is due to the technophile conceit that some favoured innovation is superior to everything else, including scientific knowledge, processes and agro-ecological solutions.

Keep up with the ongoing efforts to persuade the Gates Foundation, USAID, and other donors to move beyond the Green Revolution to support agroecology.

All comments to T.Wise and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Dele  Fapohunda

30 Nov 2022


Every year the UN has set aside Sept 20 to create awareness on the role of food loss and waste in the determining  Food security across the world. In your local area, please interact with the people and sensitize them on the need to reduce waste and make the earth sustainable

For further details, visit

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste | FAO

Dele Fapohunda
Sept 25, 2022


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