Haiti: Farmers against Monsanto
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Haitian farmers are worried that giant corporations like Monsanto are trying to gain a larger foothold in the local economy under the guise of earthquake relief and rebuilding, according to AlterNet. Earlier this month, in the central square of Hinche, an agricultural town in Haiti's Plateau Central region, some farmers burned a symbolic quantity of hybrid corn seed donated to Haiti by Monsanto. They called on other farmers to burn any Monsanto seeds already distributed, and demanded that the government rejected further shipments. The actions were spearheaded by a regional peasant movement that claims 50,000 members, and the national coalition of some 200,000 members to which it belongs. Despite divisions among Haitian peasant organisations, several of the most important groups joined together.
Haitian agronomist Bazelais Jean-Baptiste said that the foundation for Haiti's food sovereignty was the ability of peasants to save seeds from one growing season to the next. The hybrid crops that Monsanto were introducing did not produce seeds that could be saved for the next season, therefore peasants who useed them would be forced to somehow buy more seeds each season. He continued that their primary goal was to defend peasant agriculture, an organic agriculture that respected the environment and to fight against its degradation, and to defend native seeds and the rights of peasants on their land. According to Monsanto, 130 tonnes of hybrid corn and vegetable seed out of a promised 475 tonnes have been sent so far. The rest, which will be hybrid corn seed, are to be delivered over the coming twelve months. The company stressed in a news release that the seeds were not genetically modified, but acknowledged that some seeds were coated with fungicides and pesticides.
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