By Bev Bell
May 19, 2010
The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
“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).
Would anyone in a position of responsibility, who has a brain, and even an iota of common sense, ever believe an agent of Monsanto? They have an excellent record of proven misrepresentations, legal thuggery, and an absolute lack of conscience. In other words someone who has a dark agenda and stands to make a lot of money.
Monsanto is known for aggressively pushing seeds, especially GMO seeds, in both the global North and South, including through highly restrictive technology agreements with farmers who are not always made fully aware of what they are signing. According to interviews by this writer with representatives of Mexican small farmer organizations, they then find themselves forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year, under conditions they find onerous and at costs they sometimes cannot afford.
We will not even discuss their record in Canada, the United States, India, Iraq and Central America.
Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special review.
The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides containing thiram must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled.
The EPA also barred marketing of the chemicals for many home garden products, because it assumes that most gardeners do not have adequately protective clothing.
Monsanto’s passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds.Haitian social movements’ concern is not just about the dangers of the chemicals and the possibility of future GMO imports.
depends on local production
with local food for local consumption,
in what is called food sovereignty.
Monsanto’s arrival in Haiti, they say, is a further threat to this.
These Haitian peasants are very wise and far-seeing. The only way for a people to survive is to have this control over our own food. This is the common sense of the common people that seems to disappear in the laboratories of these highly educated fools who have lost the natural touch.
Exposure to Agent Orange has caused cancer in an untold number of U.S. Veterans, and the Vietnamese government claims that 400,000 Vietnamese people were killed or disabled by Agent Orange, and 500,000 children were born with birth defects as a result of their exposure.
The corporations’ record does not support the claims.
Over the years every one of these claims has been thoroughly debunked.
The company holds almost 650 seed patents, most of them for cotton, corn and soy, and almost 30% of the share of all biotech research and development. Monsanto came to own such a vast supply by buying major seed companies to stifle competition, patenting genetic modifications to plant varieties, and suing small farmers. Monsanto is also one of the leading manufacturers of GMOs
Colombian communities and human rights organizations have charged that the herbicide has destroyed food crops, water sources and protected areas, and has led to increased incidents of birth defects and cancers.
Vía 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.”
The Center for Food Safety has led a four-year legal challenge to Monsanto that has just made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. After successful litigation against Monsanto and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for illegal promotion of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, the court heard the Center for Food Safety’s case on April 27. A decision on this first-ever Supreme Court case about GMOs is now pending. “Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and our agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said in an interview in February. “We have the potential to make our lands produce enough to feed the whole population and even to export certain products.
The policy we need for this to happen is food sovereignty, where the county has a right to define it own agricultural policies, to grow first for the family and then for local market, to grow healthy food in a way which respects the environment and Mother Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of PapayEarth.
I wish the people of the earth all the good luck to withstand the onslaught of these corporate vultures. Certainly all of us who love the planet and respect all of humanity stand Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papaybeside you.
Many thanks to Moira Birss for her assistance with research and writing.
1. Group email from Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, May 14, 2010.
2. Email from Elizabeth Vancil to Emmanuel Prophete, director of seeds at the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, and others; released by the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, date unavailable.
4. Extension Toxicology Network, Pesticide Information Project of the Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University and University of California at Davis.
5. Jonas Deronzil's comments are from an interview in April. He was not specifically discussing Monsanto.
6. "MSNBC," January 23, 2004. "Study Finds Link Between Agent Orange, Cancer." The Globe and Mail, June 12, 2008. "Last Ghost of the Vietnam War."
8. La Vía Campesina, "La Vía Campesina carries out Global Day of Action against Monsanto," October 16, 2009.
9. Center for Food Safety, "Monsanto vs. US Farmers," November 2007.
10. Andrew Kimbrell and Joseph Mendelson, Center for Food Safety, "Monsanto vs. US Farmers," 2005.
11. La Vía Campesina, October 16, 2009, Op. Cit.
12. La Vía Campesina, "La Vía Campesina Call to Action 17 April 2010 - Join the International Day of Peasant Struggle," February 23, 2010.
13. Organic Consumers Association, "Taxpayers Forced to Fund Monsanto's Poisoning of Third World," Finland, Minnesota.
14. Center for Food Security, "Update: CFS Fighting Monsanto in the Supreme Court," May 11, 2010