By David F. Rooney
With light rain and temperatures of just 10° in the forecast, Saturday may not be the best day for a demo but that shouldn’t stop the truly committed from coming out to protest against Monsanto.
One of the world’s true mega-corporations, Monsanto describes itself thusly:
“If there were one word to explain what Monsanto is about, it would have to be farmers.
“Billions of people depend upon what farmers do. And so will billions more. In the next few decades, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the past 10,000 years – combined.
“It is our purpose to help farmers do exactly that.
“To produce more food.
“To produce more with less, conserving resources like soil and water.
“And to improve lives.
“We do this by selling seeds, traits developed through biotechnology, and crop protection chemicals.”
All of that may even be true — up to a point.
But to millions of people around the world Monsanto is not regarded as a benevolent friend of the humble farmer. To many people it is a colossus that seeks to impose a biological hegemony that crushes farmers and bleeds the biosphere white by claiming patents on genetically modified seeds and, in the developing world, encouraging governments to drop subsidies for small farmers and introduce policies that make it possible for the company to, in effect, gain a monopoly on their seed for their crops
Take what happened in India. According to the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), an independent research and media organization based in Montreal:
“The irony is GM seeds have not been effective in India and the consequences are not as rosy as what Monsanto had promised to deliver. Scathing reports of mass suicides of Indian farmers broke out as recently as three years ago when scores of farmers took their own lives in order to escape the burden of high prices and failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds.
“Monsanto offered its GM seeds to the farmers of India with hopes of reaping plentiful crops. Plain and mostly uneducated farmers thought Monsanto had come to provide a ‘magic’ formula that would transform their lives. They had no idea what was coming.
“Monsanto’s seeds in India did not produce what the company had promised and farmers hoped. The expensive seeds piled up debts and destroyed farming fields. In many instances, the crops simply failed to materialize. The farmers were not aware that the GM seeds required more water than the traditional seeds. And lack of rain in many parts of India exacerbated the crop failure.”
Granted, many people would regard the CRG and avaaz.org as pink left-wing organizations, but that does not negate the validity or urgency of their observations and concerns about attempts by any corporation to gain a monopoly or near-monopoly over seed stocks.
Personally, I think attempts by Monsanto or anyone else to induce farmers to use patented, genetically modified seed stocks should be resisted.
This is a cause every right-thinking person can get behind. See you at the demo.