The Crescent Report

May 18, 2010

Food Sovereignty or Food Slavery? Haitian Peasant Farmers Reject Montanto Seed “Gift”

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 4:46 pm

Never underestimate the propensity of corporate greed to attempt to exploit for financial gain, the misery of others.  Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day: “Fat men on Wall Street, care nothing at all.  They’ll keep chasing dollars till the empire falls.”

Food Sovereignty or Food Slavery?  Haitian Peasant Farmers Reject Montanto Seed “Gift”

Why would peasant farmers in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere reject a “gift” of some 475 tons of corn seed from the world’s leading agricultural monopoly company?  Because they value the future of their own food economy, and their very lives.

That is the message from the National Peasant Movement in Haiti, and from their leader Chavanes Jean Baptiste, in his declaration that the peasant farmers will burn the seed donation from the Monsanto Corporation.

The rejection of the donated seed is not an indication of extreme ingratitude. Rather, it is indicative of what thousands of peasant and small farmers in the developing world recognize as the destructive practices of Monsanto, which center on introducing genetically modified seed stocks of corn, tomatoes, soybeans, and other agricultural staples into developing countries.  These seeds are often laced with dangerous chemical pesticides and fungicides, and the introduction of the seeds often drive local small farmers and seed producers out of business.

In fact, Via Campesina, a network of peasant and small farm producers in some 60 nations, calls Monsanto “a principle enemy of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all peoples.”

Genetically modified seeds are a big business for Monsanto, and other food monopoly corporations.  The company owns some 650 patents for various seeds, many of which have been introduced into the economies of poor nations that are struggling to create sustainable markets for their own food producers. Typically, seeds can be “donated” or sold at prices that local farmers cannot compete with; then, when local producers are out of business, the monopolies like Monsanto can raise the prices of their seeds without local competition.

Moreover, the bio-diversity of indigenous food crops is threatened by these genetically modified seeds. Local crop fields exposed to the pollen produced by these plants are often left incapable of growing other foods.

The people of Haiti need massive international assistance as they recover from the catastrophic effects of the earthquake that devastated their country earlier in 2010.  But the price of international assistance should not be, and must never be, at the expense of local farmers and the integrity of what they grow to feed their nation.  Economic justice is not just about fair wages; it’s also about the protection of indigenous communities and local food markets from the destructive impact of massive, profit-driven food producers from the global North.

Ibrahim Ramey

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