Picture from Vanity Fair feature on Monsanto dominating the American food chain (Barlett and Steele). Picture by Melvyn Calderon /Greenpeace HO / AP images. Anti-Monsanto crop circle made by farmers in the Philippines.
It seems Monsanto are officially making their move to spread their questionable crops across Nepal (see Himalayan Times or Agro News or USAid.
Who makes the decisions about which companies, crops and farming practices should be promoted and celebrated in Nepal? I mean, which individual person is responsible for the incredibly stupid move to ACTIVELY PROMOTE Monsanto to farmers in Nepal? I want to meet this man (and in Nepal it'd be a man) and give him one word of advice: GOOGLE.
A search on Monsanto will return 17, 400, 000 results. The first page of links reveals "Monsanto - World's Most Unethical and Harmful Investment", a title like that has to at least give you pause, if not cause for further investigation. There is an abundance of articles discussing the failure of Monsanto crops, the possible health effects and the risks to food sovereignty and food security posed by the companies aggressively promoted GM, Hybrid and alarmingly pesticide dependent crops.
So not the reading type but that's not really an excuse, there is also a video: "Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years". but I guess with the slow internet it might take too long to load it.
I know politicians are not known for their unbiased appraisal of proposals put forward by international big business but this is a joke.
Why is USAID, a development agency, working so hard to push US products and companies on to developing nations? I have ethical issues with USAID, their food aid policy is despicable, they allow people starve to death in order to use their own boats and crops but that's another blog post entirely. My problem with USAID and Monsanto working together is it gives Monsanto the appearance of being motivated by concern and caring. Let's not forget this is the company who produced Agent Orange, the chemical used in the Vietnam War. 400,000 people killed or disabled and 500,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to the chemical. We are talking about giving a company with no soul freedom to promote itself to farmers in Nepal.
In my opinion (and feel free to argue) the long term health effects to consumers and farmer and the ecological impacts of hybrid and GM crops and the pesticides which come with them, have not been adequately established. Rather than spend an appropriate amount of time and money figuring out if these things are safe they flog them off to poor countries in the name development and wait and see what happens.
There have been studies which indicate some Monsanto crops MAY lead to decreased fertility in mice. The studies have been labeled inconclusive and no one can say IF this could also be the case in humans. Maybe its just me but i'd like to know if something is going to lower my fertility chances before i eat it, not in 20 years when the tests are finished! Why are they allowed to give this stuff to farmers if they aren't even sure if it is safe? In Haiti farmers are refusing the vegetable seed given to them by Monsanto because:
"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 U.S. 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." Beverly Bell Huffington Post 2010
And what about sustainability and food sovereignty. There has been a lot of noise about Monsanto coming into Nepal to help local farmers increase maize output and help with food security. Trials in the Tarai region saw the crops fail. The crops grew but there was not actual corn. The farmers were the big losers as thousands of hectares had to be destroyed and monsanto have refused to pay compensation. The cause of these crop failures? According to monsanto it was cold weather... Nepal is a cold place, maybe it isn't the best country to be pushing crops which are sensitive to cold climates?
Ok, i could keep ranting but i have run out of steam. If you want to read about Monsanto and the unhappy maize farmers in India the look at Tehelka. Or check out the Organic consumers Association - millions against Monsanto.
**NOTE** if your wondering how i got on to this topic it was over here at With love, from KTM