Haiti Farmers Reject Monsanto "Earthquake Relief" Donation, Burn GMO Seeds
by Tony Isaacs
In an attempt to backdoor GMO seeds into a new market, Monsanto has taken the opportunity to donate hundreds of tons of GMO seeds to Haiti and is calling it an effort to help the people in Haiti with earthquake relief. However, Monsanto's "generosity" is being met with skepticism and outright rejection.
Recently, a large group of small farmers burned a symbolic quantity of Monsanto's donated hybrid corn seed in the central square of the agricultural town of Hinche. A 200,000-member national coalition is encouraging Haiti farmers to burn all Monsanto seeds that have already been distributed, and has called on the government to reject additional shipments.
Peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, told IPS News that farmers want to preserve their traditional "organic agriculture that respects the environment and fights against its degradation. We defend native seeds and the rights of peasants on their land." Jean-Batiste also said "Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and our agriculture" and maintained that a "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 Earth."
Another peasant farmer stated, "We have a problem today with Monsanto and all the multinationals who sell seeds. Seeds and water are the common patrimony of humanity."
Monsanto has already donated the first round of what Global Research has referred to as a "new earthquake" and "deadly gift": 475 tons of genetically modified seeds, along with the accompanying fertilizer and pesticides, whose demand usually increases in proportion to the use of GMO seeds.
The multinational seed giant is known around the world for its aggressive GMO policies. It is also known for intimidating and suing farmers and small agricultural companies it claims have violated its contracts and patents, including farmers whose fields have been contaminated by pollen from someone else's genetically engineered crop or who have had voluntary seed sprout from a previous year's crop. By 2007 Monsanto had already collected over $21.5 million in judgments in the U.S. alone.
In addition, Monsanto is infamously known for the deaths and health problems that have resulted from its highly toxic herbicide products, most notable of which is Agent Orange. A large number of U.S. Veterans got cancer as a result of exposure to the company's Agent Orange. The Vietnamese government claims that 400,000 of their citizens died or were disabled and 500,000 children were born with birth defects as a result of Agent Orange.
The corn seed product Monsanto donated to Haiti has been treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, while the calypso tomato seeds were treated with thiram. Thiram is a highly toxic chemical which the EPA examined and deemed to be so dangerous that agricultural workers are now mandated to wear protective clothing when handling them.
While Monsanto is calling the seeds a donation, it isn't hard to see how the company will benefit by getting farmers hooked on a need that only it can supply, as it has done elsewhere around the world - most notably in the U.S. and Canada.
Seed company giants Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer control more than half of the world's seed patents. Monsanto has almost 650 seed patents, most of which are for cotton, corn, and soy. The company also owns almost 30 percent of the share of all the world's biotechnology research and development.
The world's largest confederation of farmers, Via Campesina, has called Monsanto one of the "principal enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all peoples."