Haitian Farmers Vow To Burn Monsanto Hybrid Seeds Pt 1

On June 4th Haitian farmers will burn seeds as an act of protest in response to what one peasant farmer calls “a new earthquake”. Since the devastating 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti in mid January the country has been in even more need than the poverty stricken nation usually is. A company named Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds. [1]

Their website states “Monsanto is an agricultural company” but that’s not exactly the whole truth. They produce what they call “in-the-seed trait technologies”. Haitian farmers call Monsanto’s products genetically modified seeds and on June 4th, World Environment Day, these “beggars” will show themselves to be choosers when they set fire to the donated seeds.

Above: Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
Just over a week ago, 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.”

[2]

US policies have undermined local Haitian farmers and undercut their profits with tariffs and subsidies by the US government for our agricultural products. Simply put, these policies led to imported US rice being cheaper for Haitians than locally grown Haitian rice and abandoned rice farms. Imported seeds and food undermine local food production and seed stocks.

As if that weren’t enough Monsanto produces Roundup, the biggest selling weed killer in the world. It’s a broad-spectrum herbicide meaning it kills almost everything green. But its main ingredient, glyphosate, “breaks down quickly in soil, so that little or no toxic byproduct accumulates in plant or animal tissue — a detail that Monsanto highlights when describing itself as an environmentally friendly company.” ~motherjones.com

Monsanto also sells seeds genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup herbicide. A farmer who uses Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds can douse entire fields with the herbicide instead of using multiple herbicides that target specific weeds or spraying only the perimeter of their fields.

This way Monsanto gets a double sale. You can’t buy Roundup without buying Roundup Ready seeds or all your crops will die. Seed sale= weed killer sale.

Photo Credit: Monsanto, Haiti Seed Donation, Moving Seeds
Because Monsanto’s modified products are also patented farmers are contracted with them to not to sell, give away or save these genetically modified seeds for next year’s planting. Their seeds must be bought again every year and at times aggressive tactics have been used, not just in the global South but also in the global North, to coerce farmers to sign their highly restrictive contracts even if a farmer doesn’t fully understand what he/she was signing.

Their customers farms are regularly inspected. Violation of their terms will lead to a lawsuit. The company holds 650 seed patents for cotton, soy and corn seeds among others. If a non Monsanto affiliated farmer’s crops are contaminated, through bees and pollen, by a Monsanto affiliated farmer’s engineered crops, Monsanto reserves the right to sue the non Monsanto farmer for copyright infringement and violation of a patent. Since 2007 Monsanto has filed 112 such suits involving millions of dollars in 27 states.

This contamination effects a farmer’s ability to sell their crops as organic, as defined by the USDA, and chemical free. A lawsuit from a farmer against a large corporation like Monsanto is an exhausting, long lasting and expensive undertaking most farmers can’t see through to the end though one such case is to be decided by the Supreme Court this June. [3]

There are no laws currently regulating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Haiti.

Monsanto claims their donation does not include GMOs. The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture approved the donation.

Read Part 2 HERE then visit Organic Consumers Association’s website to

Take Action in Solidarity with Haitian Farmers Who Vow to Burn Monsanto’s Seeds

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