Haitian Farmers Pledge to Burn Monsanto’s Seeds
Writing in the Huffington Post, Beverly Bell reported that Haitian peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called Monsanto’s “gift” of seeds “a new earthquake” and has committed to burning them.Bell writes:“In an open letter sent of May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds..., and on what is left our environment in Haiti.
"Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”In fact, in a report on Haiti by Catholic Relief Services, the number one recommendation was to focus on local seeds, not introduce new or "improved" varieties.If Haitian farmers accept the seeds, they would be throwing away their food sovereignty and be yet another victim of Monsanto’s stealthy attempts to control farmers and the entire world food supply.
Monsanto is a Major Threat to Small Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture
Bell reports:“VÌa Campesina, the world's largest confederation of farmers with member organizations in more than sixty countries, has called Monsanto one of the "principal enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all peoples."They claim that as Monsanto and other multinationals control an ever larger share of land and agriculture, they force small farmers out of their land and jobs.”These fears are not unfounded. Seed used to be fairly inexpensive, in large part due to the practice of planting seed collected and saved from the previous year. With GM seeds and some hybrid varieties, this ancient farming practice is no longer employed and farmers must buy new seed each year.Farmers who buy Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds are required to sign a lengthy and confusing agreement promising not to save the seeds or sell them to other farmers. They must buy new seeds from Monsanto, at prices that are quickly skyrocketing.
Between the years of 1975 and 1997, soybean farmers spent 4 to 8 percent of their farm income on seeds. Last year, those who planted GM soybeans spent 16.4 percent of their income on seeds.
Monsanto's Seed Gestapo
To make sure farmers are not secretly trying to reuse their seeds, Monsanto employs an army of private investigators and agents to secretly videotape and photograph farmers. These “seed police,” as the farmers call them, have infiltrated community meetings and attempted to pressure farmers into signing papers giving Monsanto access to their private records.
Quite fittingly, farmers have described Monsanto’s tactics as similar to the “Gestapo” and “Mafia.” Monsanto has even gone so far as to sue small farmers for patent infringement after their GM seeds spread wildly into surrounding farmers’ fields, contaminating their conventional crops! Again Bell writes:
“As of 2007, Monsanto had filed 112 lawsuits against U.S. farmers for alleged technology contract violations or GMO patents, involving 372 farmers and 49 small agricultural businesses in 27 different states. From these, Monsanto has won more than $21.5 million in judgments.
The multinational appears to investigate 500 farmers a year, in estimates based on Monsanto's own documents and media reports.”So by burning Monsanto’s stealthy “gift,” Haitian farmers are not only taking a stand against the makers of GM crops that would choose to contaminate their country forever, they are taking a stand to protect their rights to farm in the ways their ancestors have done for generations.
India Teaches a Valuable Lesson
Burning Monsanto’s seeds may also spare Haitian farmers the tragedy that Indian farmers have had to endure.Monsanto has been ruthless in their drive to use India as a testing ground for GM crops, and it gives us a very clear picture of what could be in store for the rest of the world’s small farmers if they’re allowed to continue.Over the past decade, millions of Indian farmers have been promised radically increased harvests and income if they switch from their traditional farming methods to genetically modified Bt cotton seeds.To do so, the farmers often borrow money to buy the GM seeds, which then require the use of certain pesticides, which requires even more money.
That’s when Monsanto’s promises begin to fall apart, as when rainfall is sparse, the GM crops fare far worse than traditional crops -- a fact that these farmers oftentimes don’t learn until it’s too late and they’re faced with failed crops, spiraling debts, and no income. This is driving Indian farmers to take desperate actions. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, more than 182,900 Indian farmers took their own lives between 1997 and 2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers commit suicide every day, which equates to roughly one suicide every 30 minutes!
Haitian farmers have taken a wise step to escape this very same fate.
Monsanto Must NOT Further Monopolize the World Seed Market
Allowing Monsanto to monopolize the market could have lethal consequences for all of us. Because not only is Monsanto doing what it can to eliminate competition from other agricultural biotech products, their goal is to do away with conventional seeds, period, and take control of the food supply.Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won at least 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company, and they will not stop there. As I’ve discussed in many previous articles, this is a threat to human civilization and would spell disaster for the entire planet. If you want to help keep Monsanto from expanding their stronghold on the world’s food supply, please continue to stay informed and boycott all GM foods. This is made easier by the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. Every time you choose to buy a non-GMO product over a product that contains GM ingredients, you are making a dent in the empire that is Monsanto … and helping to save the world’s food supply one bite at a time.