The Emperor’s New Clothes is a story by Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who hires two tailors who promise to make him a set of remarkable new clothes that will be invisible to anyone who is either incompetent or stupid. When the emperor goes to see his new clothes, he sees nothing at all — for the tailors are swindlers and th ere aren’t any clothes. Afraid of being judged incompetent or stupid, the emperor pretends to be delighted with the new clothes and “wears” them in a grand parade through the town. Everyone else also pretends to see them, until a child yells out, “He hasn’t got any clothes on!” However, the Emperor, arrogantly continues parading with his courtiers as though there was no problem.
Hans Christian Andersen’s fable is an apt parody for what is happening today with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and agriculture. The GMO Emperor Monsanto has no clothes: its promises to increase crop yields and feed the hungry have proven to be false; its genetic engineering to control weeds and pests have created super weeds and super pests. Yet the Emperor struts around hoping the illusion will last and the courtiers, not wanting to be seen as stupid, will keep applauding and pretending they see the magnificent robes of the GMO emperor.
Citizens around the world can see the false promises and failures of GMOs. And like the child who speaks up, are proclaiming “What the Emperor is telling us is not true. It is an illusion. The GMO Emperor has no clothes”. Joining together to say that “The GMO Emperor has no clothes” empowers citizens to create a GMO-free world, rich in biodiversity and healthy food. It also advances alternatives that are truly sustainable and provides food security and food democracy for all.