Demonstration in Haiti against Monsanto.
Monsanto may be showing strong economic growth—19 percent last quarter!— but it's also generating more opposition than ever, all over the world.
A report out yesterday illustrates the struggles against Monsanto, and the agribusiness model it embodies, being led by small-holder and organic farmers, local communities and social movements around the world.
"Who will hold Monsanto responsible for the global depletion of biodiversity, soil erosion, and violations of peasant rights wrought by the application of petroleum-based inputs required by industrial agriculture?” said Dena Hoff of La Via Campesina, adding that while farmers everywhere are resisting for food sovereignty, the rest of the world needs to join in.
And in many places in many countries, it is. “The majority of Europe’s public remains opposed to GM food production, and several countries in Europe now have national bans on Monsanto’s MON810 maize and BASF’s Amflora potatoes, despite the strong pressure of the biotech industry and of the European Commission to lift those moratoriums,” said Héloise Claudon from Combat Monsanto.
Fighting for Food Sovereignty
La Via Campesina defines "food sovereignty" as the right of all peoples to produce and consume healthy, culturally appropriate, sustainably-produced food—and to define and own their own food and agriculture systems.
The new report, which is a collaborative effort by La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International and Combat Monsanto, is worth looking at for a closer look at resistance to Monsanto and GMOs around the world—like in India, for example, where:
a moratorium has been implemented on the cultivation of Bt brinjal, a GM version of a key Indian food staple, and Mahyco-Monsanto has been formally accused of biopiracy by India’s National Biodiversity Authority. After a decade of popular opposition in India, a movement rejecting Monsanto’s colonial-style approach is gathering under the ‘Monsanto, Quit India!’ banner, with a view to ejecting the company from the country. This would free India’s cotton industry of Monsanto’s current stranglehold, and help to stop the suicides of small farmers driven into debt by the ever-increasing costs of GM and chemical inputs.
It also emphasizes the importance of seed biodiversity and conservation:
In 2004, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entered into force. This treaty has played an important role in recognising the farmers’ struggle to save and conserve their seeds in the face of the threat posed by the multinationals’ patented seeds. In article 9, it “recognizes the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world... have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world.”
Based on this treaty, a French campaign called Sowing Biodiversity (Semons la biodiversité), was launched in 2008 by the network, Peasant Seeds (Réseau Semence Paysanne). This campaign aims to defend local varieties and promote the free exchange of seeds among farmers, in order to restore rural biodiversity and guarantee consumers a large range of local products.
Read the report for more, but what it comes down to is a fight for the future of the global food system.
As the report concludes:
Monsanto and agribusiness in general are increasingly unwelcome wherever they operate. They ruin local agriculture and harm communities with their attempts to dominate food production systems...
We are calling for collective action from all of those who share our vision of a sustainable world. There has never been a more important time to globalise our struggles.