A New Earthquake: Monsanto Threatens Food Sovereignty in Haiti

In efforts to maintain food sovereignty, Haitian farmers decided earlier this week to burn 60,000 toxic seed sacks which will be donated by those omnipresent swindlers, Monsanto, reported Beverly Bell on Truthout. In what can only be a transparently backhanded "gift" (a Trojan Horse, as one commenter put it), the food giant offered the struggling country corn and vegetable seeds -- all non-GMO, they assure -- but nevertheless treated with the toxic pesticides at which Monsanto excels.

Executive director of the Peasant Movement of Papay and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, called the donation a "new earthquake," expressing concerns that Monsanto's entrance into Haitian agriculture would be "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds ... and on what is left [of] our environment in Haiti."

Bell's look at the toxicity of the donated seeds supports the Haitian farmers' concerns:
The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram. Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused concern to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special review. The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides containing thiram must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled. The EPA also barred marketing of the chemicals for many home garden products, because it assumes that most gardeners do not have adequately protective clothing. Monsanto's passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds.
Of course, some pesticides aren't the only reason Haitian farmers are revolting (though when you take into consideration that Monsanto was paid $25 million by the U.S. government to supply a concentrated version of Roundup to kill Colombian drug crops, and that the communities affected now suffer increased rates of birth defects and cancers, as well as a decimated food and water supply, the pesticides certainly are enough reason). To date, Monsanto owns 650 seed patents, over half of the world's seeds. The company has won $21.5 million from lawsuits against U.S. farmers, and investigates some 500 farms a year to make sure its seed patents are being respected. All hail...

Read the full article on Truthout.
Image credit: Beverly Bell
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